The often underestimated the struggle of repatriation – moving back home

 

not at home

Most of my friends and family know that I struggled and still struggle by being back “home”. At least back home in the country I was born and lived most my life. But as the saying goes “Home is where your heart is”, and even after 2.5 years my heart is not here. I am better, but not good. And even though it pains to see other friends struggle with the same, it is sort of a relief to see that I am not alone out there. Instead of writing a post on this myself now (I still intend to do so one day) I let below post speak for itself.

http://blogs.wsj.com/expat/2015/04/15/repatriation-blues-expats-struggle-with-the-dark-side-of-coming-home/

To me, it says most of it and I hope it will help my dear struggling friends. And perhaps let family and friends of those struggling friends understand a bit better where they are coming from.

Stay strong, heads up!

AK

 

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What is this “Yoga Feel” they talk about?

I came to Yoga during my first pregnancy. The first class I remember ever since. I was just beyond the 3 months mark and the class was a mixture with small bellies like me up to 9 months pregnant. And here I was going into a forward bent barely touching my knees – looking around and watching the larger bellied women around me going all the way down touching the floor (with straight legs!). I know, Yoga is not a competition but did I feel stiff and inflexible that moment compared to everybody around me! It felt like a nice ‘workout’ though. After all, my teacher said she will challenge us, ‘we are ‘just’ pregnant and not sick’. And yes she did make us work!

I loved the class itself but over the next couple of lessons I struggled to get the “Yoga Feel” they all talked about. It was a lot of information to take in, the new movements, twists and feeling muscles I didn’t know I had and that all combined with proper in- and exhalation. And not to forget about these relaxation minutes at the end of the class! Everybody seemed to look forward to those minutes and I had to force myself to not get up, my mind spinning and my body feeling restless. What is this talk that Yoga makes you relaxed and feel good I wondered. To me it was a just a good pregnancy workout.

But then, during one class when I really didn’t think about anything and just went with the flow it all clicked together, the movements and the breathing and an enjoyable relaxation / meditation part towards the end.  And that’s when it got me. It all just felt right, smooth and relaxed and good for body and mind!

Yoga has so many facets and every teacher is different and every participant has different interests and reasons for joining a class. If you are interested in Yoga make sure you do find the right teacher and class (I surely had some that were not always “my cup of tea”). And give yourself some time to get into the swing. Yoga does feel awkward and ‘just wrong’ at times and it takes a while to get into the flow. But once you can relax into the poses and combine it with your breathing it might just all click together and you get this ‘Yoga Feel’ and realise why it is not only good for the body but as well the mind.

Experience, have fun, go with the flow and let go!

Bye

AK

logo(copyright Ann-Katrin van Schie)

Oat Muffins – super quick and easy

 

Here a great, ‘quick-mix-it-all-in-a-bowl-and-ready-to-bake’ muffin recipe that works well for a school and/or office snack!

oat muffin

 

Oat Muffins
(makes 12 muffins)

1 ¼ cups quick oats
1 cup all-purpose flour (I usually mix it with some whole wheat flour)
1/3 cup white sugar (I usually use less and brown sugar instead)
1 tbsp baking powder
½ teasp salt
1 cup milk
1 egg
¼ cup vegetable oil

1 cup fresh for frozen blueberries or dried cranberries, etc.

Now the difficult part 😉

Combine all the ingredients BUT the fruits in a bowl, mix with a spoon until just moistened. Add the fruits and mix gently. Spoon into muffins forms and bake at 220deg C for 20-25 min.

I sometimes sprinkle some cinnamon on top before baking.

Freeze any left-over as a stand-by snack!

Unfortunately I am not sure where I got this recipe from anymore. But it is definitely worth a try!

Mix, bake and enjoy,

AK

Help to Fight Obesity

Today a different “Food for Thought” as I will refer you to a petition from Jamie Oliver where he asks for help to fight for Food Education in schools. One might think on or the other way about Jamie Oliver but what I like a lot about him is his passion on food education.

Obesity is something close to my heart, an area I currently educate myself in. An area in that I hope that I will be able to reach out to people who want to change to be healthier. But it is one thing to reach out to adults who often at least know that moving and healthy eating is important but who might feel helpless in taking this first step into a healthier and fitter life.

But it is a totally different scenario when you want to approach children. They often are helpless, hardly aware of the difference of healthy and unhealthy food, hidden sugars, fresh fruits and vegetables, or even the difference between fast food versus fresh home cooked meals.

Unfortunately obesity among children is on the rise and is it needless to say what huge negative impact that will have on their health and life when they grow up. We need to get more tools on hand to educate children all over the world about healthy food.

That is why I signed Jamie Oliver’s petition for “compulsory practical food education in schools across the world” and I hope you will, too. Please have a look at his petition and sign if you feel you want to make a change is this area. Thank you!

https://www.change.org/p/jamie-oliver-needs-your-help-fighting-for-food-education-foodrevolutionday?recruiter=64365366&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=share_twitter_responsive

And check this out to get into the swing –  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lpqM0WPjgt4

petition jamie oliver

Going for a run – a love and hate relation

Somehow running is one of those sports that lots of people do but most of them do not really seem to love. I put myself into the love-hate category.

I have a standard running track where I run regularly with a running buggy, my son strapped into. And on days like today it somehow feels so light, free and smooth, perfect weather and I even run faster than usual. Just great and I LOVE to run! But I remember days when I run the same stretch and it just never – ever – seems – to – end. As if somebody secretly stretches it while I am out there. On those days I just drag myself along and sometimes even hate it. Yet, I am still out there more or less regularly.

Because no matter what – Every run is a good run, even the bad one! You are out there and that is all that counts.

Here some thoughts / ideas which come to my mind in regards to running and might inspire you to get out there:

When you start running try to run either a fixed distance or a set time, eg 10 min. And start slowly, try to increase regularly. It is ok to walk if you can’t run anymore, just try not to stop.

Run with music for distraction, or use this time to really focus on sounds and happenings around you. Focus on your breathing.

Your body can take more, the legs can carry you further – it is usually the mind that we need to overcome! And the mind can be pretty loud when you are out there!

It is a great time to let your thoughts and your mind run freely, great ideas often come while you are running around! It relaxed, inspires and calms down. You do not need to focus on anything particular but to move your feet forward.

If you are stressed, edgy or overwhelmed it helps to release the tension. But only if you do not force yourself to set up a new record and you are just out there to let it go (or run).

Even, or especially when you are tired, a run brings energy!  It releases endorphin, so you might really end up happy after a run! OK as some researchers say you might get a similar kick from chocolate but….how about a run first, followed but a little chocolate treat! 😉

We spend too much time inside, enjoy the outside and your surroundings.

Running with a running buddy often leads to most honest talks and a lot of fun and laughter and makes time fly by (well…). I definitely need the “me time” during my runs, but now and then some company is welcomed and great!

If you have the possibility change your routes. I have my standard with the buggy or when one of the older kids joins on their bicycles (great running buddies by the way – especially when they ask you if you could move faster…) and a “just me” trail through the forest and small hills. It helps to not get bored and to fool your mind of not getting tired at the same spot over and over again!

And one of the biggest pluses for me – it is easy – you only need good running shoes, no membership, no fixed timings. You can just tie on your shoes and head out whenever you feel for it! Go for it!

Besides all this there are of course as well medical reasons why running is good but I won’t go into this. I am not an expert but rather want to inspire you to just go out there to have Fun on your Run! Try to not take it too serious. Enjoy this time!

And if running is really not for you or you can’t run – why not head out there for a quick walk to achieve the same results for yourself?

Have a lovely day,

AK

run love hate

(image by google images)

The joy of digital pictures – or digital procrastination

It is such fun to just click away, make endless pictures and have loads to choose from, isn’t it?
It is not so much fun though when it comes to de-cluttering, sorting or even worse trying to find specific pictures on the vast array of sheer endlessness.

I constantly procrastinate – or perhaps I should just say I fail – in this area. The bullet point “declutter pictures and make albums” has been a yearly roll over on my to-do list. But I am determined to tackle it this year!

Not only because it is getting too much but even more so because I get a bad conscience! My now 6 1/2 year old keeps asking why she doesn’t have a “first year” album like her big brother (oops). And we now as well have a little 15 months old in the house and I can hardly start his album before hers is done…and add to that all the lovely things we did and places we lived in over the years. They should be able to see those great memories. Somehow I better get going NOW!

I decided to keep it short and simple. Nobody wants to look through hundreds of pictures for just one year. So I will look through, copy paste the key moments and get this thing of my list! It will be a huge relieve to have some albums in my hand I know that already. No more excuses, time to tackle the past 7 years!

Who wants to join me on this quest?

declutter and sort digital pics

PS: Make sure you do have all your memories safely stored on a separate drive – nothing sadder than losing such pictures due to a crashed computer!!!

Just ‘breathe’

It is something I practice consciously and subconsciously every day and something I keep on addressing in every Yoga class – correct breathing. Deep conscious but relaxed breathing does have such an impact on our wellbeing, so for me it became a vital thing to try to pass on to others.

We often tend to breathe very shallow throughout the day, the breath often stops around the lung area and/or we tug our belly in while inhaling instead of expending the belly to let the air flow deep. Have a go and check out your breathing right now!
Is it stuck around the lung area or do you have to push it all the way down into your abdomen area with force?
Or are you able to let you abdomen expand like a balloon while you inhale and to tug your bellybutton towards the spine while you exhale – nice and relaxed?

And even if you are not into Yoga and such; you should become aware of your breathing pattern!

My Yoga teacher once told me that Yogis believe that humans and animals have a certain number of breathes in life. So the slower, deeper and consciously we breathe the longer we might live. Whether you agree to this thought or not, deep, conscious and relaxed breathing does have its benefits.

  • Deep breathing helps to clean the ‘old air’ (carbon dioxide) out of our system to make space for more fresh oxygen.
  • Deep breathing helps to relax and calm down the mind.
  • Deep breathing helps to relax and calm down the body and its functions, the pulse and heart rate.
  • Deep breathing helps to focus and concentrate.
  • Deep breathing helps to increase our energy.

Of course we can’t breathe deep all day long but being aware of our breath and really concentrating on it now and then throughout the day does have huge positive impact on our wellbeing!
Ideally the exhalation should be double the time than the inhalation, so try to count to 3 or 4 when you inhale and slowly exhale to the count of 6 respectively 8.

So, use the time when you sit down with a cup of tea, a glass of wine or any free moment to really BREATHE. Feel the body and mind relax. Even if just for a minute or two! It is as well a great way to calm down before falling asleep!

Remember – good, conscious breathing will have a positive impact on our physical, emotional and mental state! Now go and breathe!  😉

breathe