Sunday, April 21, 2013

Begin it now!

It's been a while!!!! I've missed you blog :)

When you sit and day dream and imagine what your perfect life would be do you attach timelines? Married by this age, have a home by this time, start a family at this point, perfect career when.... I have to admit, I'm guilty! 
When we attach these timelines are we sabotaging the dream? If we achieve them later are they any less rewarding or is the timeframe part of the dream? If we knew when everything was going to happen what kind of life would it be? So many questions. 
Nick and I are moving to Champaign in July and I have been exploring my options. I was presented with the opportunity to start a PhD in Kinesiology at the University of Illinois. This is something that I have thought about before and in fact I went so far as to interview for a position in 2007. At that point life happened and I was pulled in other directions. I wasn't sure if it was something I really wanted. I met my husband and I had a job I loved. It just wasn't the right time. 
When presented with the opportunity again, I got butterflies, I was excited but then doubt crept in. I thought to myself I am 31 years old; what about children, career, finances. I decided to consider other avenues. The meetings I had were positive but the idea of the PhD just kept resurfacing. After much consideration I've decided to go for it. I'm going to jump with both feet and see what happens. It's never too late, I'm not too old and who gives a crap about what anyone else thinks!!!!! PS my family approves :)    
—Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Commit.  Begin.  Believe in it with everything in you.  And then just trust.
I’ll see it when I believe it. GOOOOO Me!!!!

Alana :)

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Emotion Sandwich: Excited, Nervous, Anxious with a side of Humbled

Cheers to Champaign! 

Now that sounds like a celebration :)

Excited. I am very excited to say that my husband, Nick, was offered an Assistant Professors position at the University of Illinois. I am very excited to see all of Nick's hard work, passion and dedication pay off. He knows what he wants and he really has sacrificed to get it. I admire that more then I can express. Such a proud wife-ie!
Being the strong and independent women that I am I have found myself a little lost in this great news. I am excited for new opportunities and to put down some roots in a more permanent place. I am thrilled about the potential of growing our little family and having a home. I am excited to develop my business, empower.ed bodhi - manual therapy, therapeutic exercise &  fitness.  I am so excited for him and us, because we are a team, but this is a new frontier for this Canadian Girl. I will be moving to the United States (always a Canadian Girl) and starting another chapter in my own life story.
Nervous. At the same time, I am nervous. Moving across the world, again. What will people be like? Will I fit in? Will I find my own success? What about my Canadian friends and family? I miss them soooo much! I have never been to Champaign but Nick tells me it is a great place. We are flying over to buy a home in April, so exciting!!! I am really hoping this helps to relieve some of the nervousness. I'm looking forward to exploring the different neighborhoods, finding the whole foods grocery stores, figuring out the best places to run and do yoga and getting a sense of the community.
Anxious. We move July 22nd and some days it can't come fast enough and others I feel like I need more time to organize and figure it all out. 

Can you ever figure it all out?!?!?! 

Humbled by the lesson. I think the important thing when experiencing nervousness and anxiety is not to ignore them or take the approach of being tough. Recognize that nervousness and anxiety are a message. Spending time with with these feelings will lead you to discover the source of the message and what you have to heal can be achieved in many ways. You have to find what works best for you, but here are some approaches that have helped me.

1. Welcome it. Make peace with anxiety. Reassure yourself that it is ok and normal to experience these feelings when something is bothering you. Fighting with anxiety or resisting it will cause it to intensify and persist.

2. Write about it. The slower pace of writing and full engagement of your senses helps you travel down the path of the message to its source. Hence my blog. We don’t always know where our anxiety is coming from, so we have to take the time to dig and poke. Plus, we’re literal people. Our thoughts are literal. By using a linguistic mechanism the analogy of anxiety message becomes more clear and easier to work with.

3. Laugh. Bring more laughter in to your life. 

4. Love. Express love for people, places, and things that you cherish. Embrace the moment.

5. Help others. The more people you help, the greater a vocabulary you’ll develop, and this will help empower your inner dialog for when you’re sitting with anxiety.

6. Meditate/ practice relaxation techniques. Anxiety races thoughts and can be very distracting. With a rushing mind, it’s hard to hear the anxiety message and follow it back to its source. If you can learn to notice your thoughts without attaching to them—seeing them as cars passing by as you stand on the edge of a busy highway—you’ll become better at picking out what really matters in this moment.

7. Realize that You Are Enough in this MomentRealize that you are your own solution. You have what you need to look clearly; to hear and to heal. Anxiety is a message born within you, speaking to you through you, and therefore it’s within you to heal. Be accountable, no matter how much “such and such/so and so did” to you. It doesn’t matter. Now is what we have to work with. Tomorrow is what we have to create.

By acknowledging and learning about your feelings, spending time with it and finally holding in your hand, you can enjoy the next step: You can relax your grip, and let it fall away. It will have served its purpose. You will have loved that part of yourself and it won’t need to get your attention with such a difficult message again. These emotions are a gift the same as excitement; you will feel connected, you will feel an inner fullness, you will recognize your own strength and power over your own life.

All we have to do is listen…

Friday, October 12, 2012

Loneliness or Solitude?

Wednesday, Nick left for the US and will not be coming home, Dutch home, until Oct 21st. He is visiting with his family and attending his best friend Ty's wedding. Both of which are very important and he really needed to do. He hasn't been home for over a year. He was really excited and I was happy to see him take a break from work. He never really does that. Unfortunately, because of my work commitments and the cost of flights I was unable to make the trip. So, I will be holding it down here for 11-days, on my own. Well Pumpkin, Gizmo, Maggie and me.

I know that many people embrace alone time and some have even said I must be happy to have a little time to myself when I told them I was flying solo. To be honest, I've always been a person who preferred the company of others and have avoided being on my own. So after some self reflection I have realized that it isn't that I'm not self reliant or that I need others to take care of me, if anything I like to feel independent and pride myself on being an independent lady. But rather I think it is that I don't like to feel lonely. I don't like the feeling of missing out on something and I don't always like being in my own head for too long. I think that often we can get stuck on the feeling of loneliness but I was thinking what if we used the word solitude instead of lonely. Language, has created the word "loneliness" to express the pain of being alone and it has created the word "solitude" to express the glory of being alone. So I've decided that these 11-days of flying solo will be filled with solitude and not loneliness. I have decided to embrace this time on my own. To do some things I want to do. Run, paint, learn to knit, cook a new recipe, girls night. Of course I will miss Nick and he never prevents me from doing the things I want but when he is here I will bounce things off of him instead of thinking them through on my own. It isn't always fair that I don't filter things or that I make him do my thinking for me. It is wonderful that I get to think about only myself and what I want to do and what I want to eat and that I get to work on thinking through things on my own. 
I feel like Macauley Caulkin in Home Alone when he realizes his whole family is gone. I'm kind of excited!!!! I'm sure by the end of the 11-days I will be wishing for Nick to come back just like he wished for his family to reappear :) Now I'm excited for Christmas!!!!!!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Canadian Girl in Maastricht: Take 2, Year Two!

Well, my one year anniversary of living in the Netherlands has come and gone and Nick and I are still holding it down Dutch style. I know it has been a while but life has been crazy. Maastricht is continuing to treat us well and the adventure continues! Nick is applying for jobs as they come up and I am working part time at Maastricht University. I was offered a contract for 20-hours a week with UM SPORT and I am doing special projects as they come up.  Which has proven to be more frequent then I originally thought :) I have my little business that I am doing on the side, a few patients each week and I am teaching Yoga and Bodyshape classes at Zenden as well. It is nice to have regular work and the flexibility to continue to study Osteopathy. I have two courses this year in May and June and my third year exam on my birthday :(

That should be good luck, right??!?!?!

I was really busy in the spring of this last year with a pilot programme I developed for employee health at the University as well as settling in after the move and just life in general and decided to take my last two courses and exam this year instead. I am still loving my osteo and I have developed a love of studying holistic nutrition as well. One of my most favourite things to do on the weekends is to try recipes and take instagram sister Leigh says this is weird but hey she above all people should know, I am weird!

My cats are thriving over here (still a crazy cat lady) and I feel like I am in a better place "psychologically" then I was when I first got here. I have come to realize that it is ok to miss home, it is ok to miss my old life but that this moment is pretty good too! With a clear mind I hope to get even more out of this European adventure.

Nick's birthday is coming up this Sunday and we have planned a trip to Tongeren, Belgium to the antique markets. Nick loves that show "American Pickers" so we will be North American Picking in Tongeren. Tongeren is the oldest city in Belgium so I am looking forward to a day filled with history and cool antiques. A Belgian beer with lunch sounds pretty good as well. There is a small antique market held here in Maastricht every Saturday, when the weather permits, by the train station. Nick loves to "wheel and deal" and has made some neat purchases. We will have to see what transport of these items back to North America entails. Hopefully, it isn't too crazy because we love collecting memories this way.
An antique coffee grinder. My grandpa always had one and my mom loves them. Notice the Al Cappuchino art work in the back ground. The artist was making them and selling them in the city centre. He lives in Maastricht.
Yes, I actually let Nick put this up!
This is red delft instead of the usual blue and Amstel is a very common beer here.
A WWII plate. Notice the horse stomping on the nazi symbol and the American flag on the right hand side. Nick had to have this and blew the days 20 euro budget on it :) He got home and checked it out online. It was valued at 30. We would be kicking butt on American Pickers!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Another Relaxing Weekend

It's Sunday night and Nick and I are just relaxing and watching the Olympics. Another relaxing weekend, just the two of us. This past week was pretty eventful so I was happy to just chill out. Last Friday we went to the Frape, a little local watering hole that Nick has become obsessed with. He loves to try new beers and Peter the owner is an awesome 'ol guy'. Nick always orders cheese with mustard and Bitterbolen. The atmosphere is pretty cool but after the weekend, usually by Monday evening, Nick starts talking about going again and by the time Friday arrives he can barely contain his excitement. For those who know Nick you know that super excited means he says in a relaxed voice with a big smile - I am looking forward to going to the Frape. He doesn't really get super excited the way I do.
This past Friday we went with friends - Imre, Silvie, JW, Ben and Mandy. Nick tried the Dark Damn Nation and LOVED it! His other favorite beer is the Black Albert. I really think it's largely because of the names that Nick orders these beers. On Saturday we went to our friends Richard and Laura's wedding party. It was a great evening and I was sorry we had to leave early so I could teach the next morning.
This week was an emotional one with one of my closest friends, Laura, heading home to Canada on Thursday :( I sure will miss her! Good news is I will be heading home for a visit in two weeks and maybe I will see her when I'm there. I am really looking forward to my visit. I haven't seen my dad in over a year. Time sure has passed quickly. I am looking forward to seeing my mom, dad, sisters Char and Leigh, my nephews, my friends and their BABIES... so many babies...there is a lot to do. I hope I am able to fit it all in and still find some time to relax.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Ladies of Leisure Living Large

My friend Laura has recently wrapped up her post doctoral fellowship at the University and we regularly joke about being "ladies of leisure". Laura has kept herself  busy with planning her wedding, her move back to Canada at the end of the month and writing her book. She is preparing to go back to school in the fall to the Naturopathic College in Toronto. She is so smart - she will be a Dr, Dr when she is done :) and more importantly she is awesome because she is going after her dreams.
I keep myself busy as well - teaching, studying, writing, cooking and yes taking care of Pumpkin, Gizmo and Maggie. We joke but on more then one occasion I have caught myself making comments about not doing anything or enough, not contributing to the world and my job being a stay at home mom for our cats. I catch myself under valuing my contribution to the world. Shame on me!
Since I've moved to the Netherlands something is different. Obviously my surroundings, but also something within me. I don't know what it is exactly but something in me has changed. I can't quite put my finger on it but I have noticed I have a harder time opening up to people. A harder time sharing my thoughts. It's almost like an uncomfortable feeling of heartbreak that I don't want to burden others with or perhaps, on a sub-conscious level I think that if I share it, it makes this whole thing real. Am I grieving the death of my former workaholic self, an identity I strived so hard to achieve, or is it the fear that my previous life was as good as it was going to get?!?!?! I call bull-shit on that!
Of course I share my thoughts, concerns and questions with Nick but not so freely with others. I'm getting brave and I have decided to share it with you. I'm doing a whole lot more observing and am reluctant to jump into things as I would have so easily in the past. Maybe this is me growing up and choosing to spend my time on things that I truly love as opposed to having my schedule reflect a more, is better philosophy. Maybe this is me protecting my heart. Fate stepped in and forced this change upon me: be it fate, destiny, a higher power...change came. After much reflection, I think this is a positive thing. I am more protective of myself, my time and my focus on doing and being the best at the things I really love. Honoring my authentic self! Whatever it is, it's different. With challenges come change and this is definitely a change I was not expecting
Today, I made a list of my goals for the upcoming year and I am really excited about pursuing my dream of becoming an Osteopath. I will be working part time and teaching classes which will be the perfect balance for my study schedule. Without the universe stepping in and relocating us here I don't know if I would have made the change on my own. Focusing on these goals is so important to achieving what I want. Keep your dreams big and your beliefs in your dreams even bigger. A wise person once said;

There are two kinds of people:  Those who say, “I will believe it when I see it.” And those who say,“To see it, I know I must believe it.”  
    Ladies of Leisure Living Large in Ireland :)

Monday, June 25, 2012

MIA...Ibiza, Visitors, Anniversary and Birthday...

The last month has been busy to say the least. I was busy and I was all up in my brain trying to figure things out. Sorry that I have been MIA. Did you miss me?????
My sister Leigh came to visit to keep me company while Nick was in San Francisco for our 1-year anniversary :( We really should have chosen a different weekend to get married because ACSM is always going to conflict and I know who wins that war every time. I understood that he had to be there and he spoiled me to make up for it. I got a sweet ipad with a pink cover!!! He knows me well.
It was wonderful to spend time with Leigh and she made my anniversary more then special. Thank you, thank you thank you doll!!!!! She came to Maastricht and we spent two days visiting with Nick, touring the city, going for runs and hanging out with my friends.

I am so lucky to have had my mom and sister Charlotte come visit and then Leigh. The ladies in my life are too good to me :)

It was Sunday when Nick left for San Francisco for his conference and Leigh and I spent the day hanging out and then caught the train to the Amsterdam airport. Our flight from Amsterdam to Barcelona was easy but we had a 13-hour wait over until we flew to Ibiza in the morning. Being the wild women that we are we decided to take a shuttle to La Rambla and pull an all night'r; eating tapas, drinking beer and dancing the night away, before our early morning flight. What a crazy night!!! Leigh is a party machine. Needless to say when we arrived in Ibiza we didn't need much convincing to slip into our bathing suits and sleep for the afternoon by the pool. I realized right away that this was a place where the culture is for women to tan topless. I never realized how shy I was about this. I am very comfortable with the human body and am not offended by others but exposing my chest was just not going to happen. I thought about how liberating this could be but never gathered the gumption to go for it. These bad boys have never seen the sun and I wasn't about to start now. Ibiza was beautiful and our hotel, Ibiza Corso, was spectacular. Not in the same was as some of the lush tropical vacation spots I've been to but in an arid and authentic/ lived in kind of way. There was a fantastic DJ who would come and spin by the pool in the afternoon and it was perfection.
We had a wonderful three days of lounging by the pool, walking the beach, exploring old Ibiza, marathon hikes, crazy workouts, amazing food and LIO! LIO was the coolest restaurant/ bar that I have ever been to. This place was better then all of Vegas. The food was AMAZING and the atmosphere was like nothing I have ever experienced. There was a cabaret show throughout the evening and the people watching was insane. These could not have been real people. If you go to Ibiza I cannot stress more how much you need to go to this place. AMAZE-balls!!!!!! Leigh and I celebrated my 1-year anniversary at a quaint little authentic italian trattoria on the water with a glass of champagne and a delicious dessert. I missed Nick with all my heart but felt very lucky to have a sister who came across the world to spend it with me :) We spent one night in Amsterdam where we stayed at the Pulitzer and had a room service picnic watching the Matrix. Not what we had planned but it turned out to be perfect. That bed was unreal and the couple next door sounded like they really enjoyed it as well ;)
After our trip, lots of deep sister talks and five days of total relaxation I came home to settle back in for a few days before Nick came home. When Nick arrived home we had some serious discussions about the future and we finally came to the decision that I would be staying here with him. I contacted my boss, Debbie, at McMaster to let her know I would not be back in August. It was a really tough decision but I felt as though a weight had been lifted from my shoulders. I shed a few tears but then tried to smile because it was amazing while it lasted. There is nothing left to do but move forward now and not look back. Scary!!!! I mean EXCITING!!!!
To top it all off I celebrated my 31st Birthday on June 19th. I'm getting old...but man I look good :) ahahhaha