Friday, March 30, 2012

Odds + Ends (Positive Reflections)

Inspiring, isn't it?  
I've been trying to relish the moment and for me that's much easier said than done since I'm naturally someone who's focused on what's happening next.
 Lately, I've become quite aware that my focus should change from mapping out a plan for what's 'supposed' to be done and what I have to do to get there 
 (I actually love making 'to-do' lists and checking them off) 
and instead just live in the moment. Often, it's hard for me to simply let go

Hang on now, ‘cause  I’m about to get personal, which doesn’t happen too often on this blog 
(but maybe it should?...)

Since returning to Amsterdam I'm blissfully content with my life here (so far) 
and really want to absorb all of the somewhat fresh, new moments and enjoy reflecting how it feels to be on the cusp of a new path surrounded by boundless opportunities. 
I know that as time goes on more obstacles will come my way
 and when that happens it's important to stay positive. 
All the sunshine this week has indeed gone to my head!

Here are five reflections of my life (so far) in Amsterdam... 

Be thankful...
Returning to Amsterdam has been great so far. Instead of letting my mind get boggled down by all the overwhelming moments (save those for another post) I’ve been ending my days  with thankful thoughts and in turn feeling so lucky that this is my life. Doing yoga daily has most likely heavily influenced my positivity and whenever I feel completely out of my element I remember that I remind myself there is always something to smile about...

I've just moved back to Europe with my handsome Dutchman (exciting!), caught up with old friends (the few still around), made some great new ones (hello ladies!). Despite the distance I still have a strong support system of family and friends back in America who I’ll always miss dearly (come visit!)
There is just so much to be thankful for, especially since the suns been shining all week.

Adjust + assimilate...
I like Holland...most of the time,when it isn't raining...
 but living here again has been a surreal mix of emotions. Daily life feels foreign yet normal, familiar yet confusing  (like getting back on a bicycle, literally).  

I've already gone through many of the expected expat experiences: explored the city, felt completely overwhelmed, learned some Dutch, survived homesickness, made good friends, accepted the cultural differences… But this time around my life here is more permanent and I have no clue of the challenges that are bound test me here. 

Knowing that living here is no longer a fleeting moment but now a long term reality adds motivation towards building something great here. Which in turn means (slowly) having to let go of some of my own cultural comforts. I'm desperate to fully understand an entire conversation and the ability add my own comments in Dutch or better yet crack a few jokes of my own!
Instead of getting frustrated with the cultural barriers the best I can do is take it all day by day…


Appreciate what once was...
As I'm beginning to feel adjusted here, all over again, there are daily reminders that so many familiar faces from my last chapter of life in Amsterdam have now left the city. At this was a sad observation because I couldn't ignore the constant little reminders. Even biking through the park or visiting a favorite cafe rekindles memories of my previous Amsterdam life.

That’s just an inconvenient truth in the life of any foreigner abroad. Our lives have continued in different directions and that’s healthy since friendships have their own ways of moving forward and changing (at least we’ve got Facebook and Skype). In essence my life here has a similar backdrop from before, which is reassuring but also odd since in many ways returning again feels very different this time around.

Embrace new surroundings.
 It's no longer just a gap year abroad, these choices in turn have created a potential life long commitment to existing in this country.
I need to accept that there will be a million moments where I'm forced to approach life in different way than I'm used to even with simple events like finding a doctor or applying for jobs. I'm on the edge of many new experiences that, with time, will build up my life and our life here. It's thrilling and unnerving to think the longer I'm here, the more Holland becomes my home.

Stop worrying + enjoy the moment...
Instead of always stressing about what I have to/supposed to/want to accomplish next, I'm want to let go and cherish this unique time and make the most of the sweet and simple aspects of life here with my Dutchman. In my observations, that seems to be something the Dutch are very good at. They don't feel guilty to enjoy leisure time and uphold an importance towards spending time with family and friends versus exhausting yourself with long hours at work. 

In Holland, anytime the sun shines people rush out to find their own little spot and soak up it up while it lasts. I'll probably never let go of all the aspects of American culture instilled in me but maybe there is something to learn from embracing an 'in the moment' attitude. 

It's so interesting to hear about the experiences from others which is why I wanted to share this post.
 I'm curious to hear from my fellow expats on this subject...  
What helped with your adjustment phase after moving abroad?
Have you learned any new approaches to life while living in a new country?

PS. It's FRIDAY! So head over to Ellen's blog and check out our link up

Company of Clever
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  1. "Our lives have continued in different directions and that’s healthy since friendships have their own ways of moving forward and changing (at least we’ve got Facebook and Skype). In essence my life here has a similar backdrop from before, which is reassuring but also odd since in many ways returning again feels very different this time around."

    .. couldn't agree more! I struggle with this when I go home or even here in NL. The problem with life abroad is that we want to grasp elements of each place we may call "home" and it's just not possible. Ah, a learning lesson for sure.

    Really enjoyed this post! x

  2. Yay New Friends! I think having the attitude that this is your life totally helps!You just have to dive in and start living! During the winter, I played the glad game from Pollyanna whenever it was freezing and I was lonely, I found something to be glad about everyday and it totally helped my overall attitude.

  3. Lily, this is such a great post. I really enjoyed reading your current perspective, it is something that I can definitely relate to as a fellow expat, and you have inspired me to really seize the moment as well. Checking things off my to-do list is a habit for me as well, so 'living in the moment' is easier said than done, you're right.

    This sentence really resonates with me: "Knowing that living here is no longer a fleeting moment but now a long term reality adds motivation towards building something great here." This is so true, and the fact that you have the ability to see this bigger picture will undoubtably change your perspective on living here, in such a positive way! Although I may not be here 'forever', we also do not have a definitie time frame, so I am going to take your advice to heart & use it as motivation to build my "own something great here."


  4. very sweet post! I can relate to what you're going to, but know that your life abroad is an exciting adventure fueled by love! Because that's what it is!