My Tipping Point: Health

Major life changes can typically be linked back to one specific trigger, a tipping point so to speak. There are many minor and even some major events leading up to this, but there is usually one moment when the flip switches.

My tipping point was waking up in the middle of the night to blood on my pillow. A lung specialist had prescribed a new medication to me to help with my nearly constant allergy problems and increasing issues with asthma and migraines. The medicine triggered a middle of the night, gushing nose bleed. The night before, it had put me into such a deep sleep, my husband could not wake me. And after both nights, I awoke to a pounding headache.

The medicine scared me. So I stopped taking it.

The lung specialist was the latest in a series of doctors I’d seen over the last two years. I won’t bore you with the rest of the symptoms, but I came to think of it as being sick and tired of being sick and tired. Doctors – female and male – told me it was because I was a working mother with two young children. I was just too busy.

After myriads of tests and exams came back inconclusive, they told me it was in my head. No really, in characteristic Dutch bluntness, a doctor told me I had a ‘mind issue’. He prescribed, with a half laugh, that I get more ‘me time’.

My sister has a gluten free and dairy free lifestyle. That planted the seed.

It was time I start evaluating very closely not only the medicine entering my system, but also all of the food.


Last Kisses & Mini Funerals 

I have been hosting many mini funerals lately. It feels like saying goodbye to the family goldfish with a flush down the toilet. Sometimes it feels like that last kiss (or more) from the boyfriend you need to break up with. 
It is grief on a bite sized scale. 
I love clothes. More specifically, I love shopping. I love the feeling of purchasing stuff or finding that perfect thing so much that I kind of hate it. Buying something nice for myself is a kind of reward. It is an indulgence. I get a rush from it. 

Shopping is like chocolate cake. It serves a purpose and I enjoy it, but if I consume too much, I literally feel ill. I have never gone into debt over it or anything like that, but I have worth and hiding issues tied up in just like people have with all sorts of objects. Labelling this an addiction is over the top. 

I am a functioning person. This is me letting you behind the curtain. So, please no labels, no judgement. I can do that very well on my own, thank you.

So, back to these mini dirges. I prefer to think of them as last kisses. You are what you think, after all. 

I am saying goodbye to most of my wardrobe. It isn’t serving me anymore. I now have a clear idea of how I want to look. Thank you Allison. The rest has got to go. 

Most of the clothes were very easy to let go. Some clothes I had my reservations about. I am finding that wearing them one more time clarifies for me why they need to go or stay.

I force myself to wear them for an entire day. I am proving a point to myself. D Day. Judgement Day. Stay or Go. Around lunchtime or after I have been out in the world a little, I feel uncomfortable or embarrassed a little by the piece of clothing. There is no place for that in my life.

So begins the process of letting go and saying goodbye. It is not a crying and nashing of teeth. I am a grown ass woman. I am out in the world. I am at a cafe or in the grocery store. No one can see this on the outside. It is an inner clarity. A small switch flips. 

Yep. This shirt (or pants or shoes) goes. Decision made. 

So where is it going next? Am I going to try to sell it or give it away? I wash it and separate it from the rest of my wardrobe. Off and out it goes.

The next day, I make a point to wear an outfit I feel great in. It reminds me of how I want to feel and reminds me that clothes can make me feel great. There is no place in life for clothes that don’t make you feel great.

Flush. Kiss. Sniffle. Shed a tear. Say your goodbyes. 

Clear out that closet and make space for…

(Photo by Morethananexpat)

NT2 II: My Second Tongue

This morning, I sat for the written portion of the NT2 II exam and, this afternoon, I will sit for the speaking portion. In the next two weeks, I have the listening and reading comprehension exams. The NT2 translates to “Dutch as a second language”. These are the level two exams and so this should tell anyone looking at my resume that I am fluent in the Dutch language.

Nope. Not fluent. I don’t feel fluent. I don’t know what that would feel like. I still sigh and squint as I read Dutch text. My heart still races when I speak Dutch. I still use Google translate. I have to consciously suppress my, “Oh Shit!” face when people ask me a question in Dutch.

Other people, other immigrants, say they dream in Dutch. Blek! God I hope not! Other people start watching Dutch television programs. Why? I come from the land of “Scandal” and “House of Cards”. One word – Netflix

My family and friends from America speak slightly awe struck when I talk about sitting for these exams. Everyone else smiles and thinks, “It is about damn time. You have lived here for ten years.”

Taking these exams makes me feel equally parts old and privileged. I’m an immigrant just like they are, but I am termed an expat or even mistaken for Dutch because of my skin color, my hair texture, my clothing, my last name. 

Most of the other people at this sterile government office building are here as a requirement to continue their education at a Dutch university. They have so much ahead of them. In many ways, they have so much behind them. We all sit here dreading the same thing – The great equalizer, government red tape.


 (Image by morethanexpat)



People asked me what my career goals were and I’d say accounting manager or something or other that meant working for a big corporation. I could ace any interview that came my way. I knew what they wanted to hear. I thought it was what I wanted. I ignored that dread that weighed down my limbs and shook it off as nerves.

I’d take a job and six months in I’d start dreading Monday’s. I’d go in everyday and give it everything I had and feel like I wasn’t being appreciated enough. The resentment would start. My cousin made a comment about why she started working for herself that really struck me. She said that she realised that maybe it wasn’t the job or company that was the issue, but her. She didn’t fit the traditional mold. It wasn’t the company or the boss or the job. It was me. Ouch.

Maybe I am a square peg in a round hole. I felt like I was working much harder than everyone else. To some extent, that was true. If I commit to something, I will finish it. It will be my best effort. No half assery.

But pouring yourself into something just because you are good at it and it is safe is a losing battle. Sooner or later, the well runs dry. And doing something for someone else’s approval, it feels like hiding. 

The only way to stand in my own shoes is to dare to say that my ideas are good enough and to give them the light of day. They have been hiding inside me so long that I stopped hearing them.

And instead of beating myself up about that, I need to go find my square hole to fill.

And so I am making a start as a business owner. Will you come along with me for the ride?

(Image from


They sang a Creedence Clearwater Revival (CCR) song tonight on The Voice. (We can watch it here in The Netherlands, but it is on a delay.) For me, CCR (and John Fogerty) is synonymous with my Dad. It doesn’t really matter which song. When one plays, I am right back there in the cab of my dad’s pick up truck. I am sitting in the passenger’s seat as he drives. Or I am cutting across farm fields driving on country roads. Or my twin sister and I are belting out a song while heading to our softball game. Then I am huddled in a chair next to his open casket begging for this nightmare to end and cursing my father for taking my kids’ grandfather from them. All the while, CCR plays in the background.

Then I have this thought that Dad is looking down from wherever he is and feeling like he isn’t missing much. Yes, he is missing out on memories with his family, but outside of that little circle, I bet he doesn’t feel like he is missing much. I wonder if he felt that while he was still alive. Do we all feel like that at a certain point? Do we eventually feel like we have seen all we want to see? We have hit all the milestones there will be. We have felt the highest of the highs and lowest of the lows and nothing else will ever push us to those extremes. Do we reach a jaded, ragged, easy assurance or peaceful resignation? Is that the goal?

(Photo by Piano Piano! from Flickr)

So Damn Lucky

Look at this face. She is gorgeous. Her smile just lights me up from the inside. She has that effect on everyone. Wiglet is eight and a half months old and sitting up. She just goes for it. In her quiet, happy way, she sets her sights on something and wiggles her way over. Her crawl looks more like the worm at this point. And she love, love, loves her big sister E. She squeals with delight when E tries to make her laugh. Wiglet laughs so hard she gets the hiccups. Their relationship right now is such a gift to watch.

Izzy is our little trooper for sure. I think she had a stomach bug for two days, but I could not be for sure because she was so happy through it. Everything that went in came right back up. She gave the meaning to the words ‘throwing up’. She would fuss, pause, chuck her guts across the room, look at me and start gurgling and smile again. No crying, no fever, no sleepless nights – what an angel. And beautiful on top of that. How did we get so lucky?

Update: Dropping a Ball – Food

I picked up our second batch of meals today. I found a nice woman that makes great food. Once a month, she makes us a batch of seven meals. It is so nice to try new food, to not cook and to not grocery shop. Tonight’s meal was a bit of a miss, though. Goat stew. It was well made, but, well… And then there are these buns. Wow! Yum! They are filled with beef or curried chicken. So great! I could wolf down five of these.