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Starting Anew in September Pt. I

Life never stops moving and new things are always underway, but it genuinely feels like September is a good month for starting something new or undertaking something new. Kind of the same way that the new year always feels like a good moment for change – even though we all know how “effective” new year’s resolutions can be…
I think the feeling largely comes from having always started a new school year in September. Ever since fifth grade (I was 10), September has often meant new students/friends in my year, occasionally it meant starting a completely new school in a new country, but it has always meant a fresh start. A whole academic year ahead of you. It’s how I measured my time, truly, relating to school.

Now that I’m no longer in school, I haven’t viewed time the same way. This summer was the first time that I noticed that this was how I had always measured time and events. Now there is no three-month long summer vacation. Even though I’m realising that having found a structure in my day-to-day life, between work, fun, self-development, exercise, and sleep, is much more enjoyable. I’m lucky enough to have the beach nearby my house and to live in a climate where I can actually, almost always, go to the beach, as well as that I don’t have an office job. No need to spend time travelling from and to the office, nor mandatorily spend eight consecutive hours there. I am truly lucky and very much aware of that fact.

Sunrise from the Balcony this morning

Now my newly found structure doesn’t mean I don’t occasionally enjoy a holiday or a period of time where I don’t have any obligations for a consecutive couple of days, but I value the structure I have found in my day to day. And honestly this feels very valuable. It IS very valuable.

A day like today is a good example. I had initially planned to get my next tattoo this afternoon, but after an unexpected turn of events it had to be postponed to (latest) September 23rd (initially Sept. 22nd, but I know Rowie wouldn’t be too pleased if I skipped out on four precious hours of her birthday) (also it’s latest the 23rd, because if a gap opens up earlier, Eva, the tattoo artist, will schedule me in). I had spend all morning being super productive: woke up early, washed my hair, did yoga, and worked my butt off all morning in order to get as much of my work done before taking off the rest of the day. So when, by 11 AM, about five hours into my day, I found out my afternoon plans had changed, I initially felt very uneasy. As you know by now, I’m a planner, and stuff like this really throws me off balance for a hot minute. Sometimes I can easily get back into the day, other days not so much.

I headed to my mom’s apartment where I made lunch, and afterwards headed back to our apartment with Rowie to work. During lunch our evening plans – to go have a cheese platter and some drinks at La Cantina, a local bar – were also cancelled because they had been tied to me getting my tattoo, I felt extra bummed. I also still hadn’t heard back about the apartment in Amsterdam, and waiting for the response has made this week feel infinitely long; nor had the friendly lady at DHL emailed me yet that my package had arrived. So everything just kind of felt blegh. I had woken up with the feeling that today was going to be a big, busy, life changing day, and now, as I’m writing this, it doesn’t feel like it at all.

After lunch, instead of going back to work, I decided to bake – something to take my mind off of the day and just do. We had bought some extra bananas that were in the “promotion” section (no one ever wants to buy them because they look all squishy and as if they’ve gone bad, but these are the best bananas for baking or for freezing for ice cream). I made the “Banana Muffins” (which I should really just call “Banana Cake” at this point), but changed it up a bit by making two different versions. One version was the regular one that I know the whole family enjoys, the other one I turned into a chocolate version. I used some of the 100%, no added sugars cacao, as well as placing small squares of 100% chocolate on top. They turned out tasty!!

After doing something for myself, I once again felt encouraged to work and managed to produce for two solid hours. I took a break and moved to sit outside; to enjoy some fresh air. I feel much less blegh right now. Sitting outside with the beautiful world around me has that effect. The sun is starting to set, so the lighting outside is that of one of my favourite moments of the day. Dusk and Dawn have, in my opinion, the most beautiful lighting and are a great way to make the world feel somewhat okay again. Even if it’s just okay in my “bubble”. Which I believe is important too. If my “bubble” isn’t okay, how can I help other people’s “bubbles” become okay?

So now I feel calm. And even though parts of today were stressful, I managed to exist and enjoy simple day-to-day aspects. Reviewing the day, I enjoy the fact that I managed to be efficient in my work, had time to cook tasty food (both lunch and baking snacks), and mainly, today’s highlight, is this blog post and the calm environment I’m writing this in.

September doesn’t only bring new things (obviously). Especially now that my time is no longer centred around a long summer and a new school year. September also brings that which every other month brings: Life. And it feels a little cliché or silly to emphasise that, but every time the date shows a new month, I am reminded by how life is continuously moving and moving and that every day little things are happening and changing, and that these are truly the things that shape life and who we are.

August was like that. I have grown a lot in August. It was a really tough month, a really fun month, and a really busy month.

And life, overall, is great, and I am loved and most of the time I am genuinely happy. I have nothing to complain about and sometimes I feel so weird talking about the simple struggles of my life when there are so many greater and heavier things happening in the world and all over the world. But then I also think about that “bubble” stuff I was talking about before. And I wonder if getting my shit together in my bubble, will directly impact the way my community/network are affected, and hopefully that creates a ripple effect, or something like the butterfly effect.

So I try and be honest on here. I try and share ups and downs and things I do and experience. And sometimes thats easy, sometimes it feels difficult or as if I’m sharing too much personal information. But I also realise and think that if I share about me and about who I am, you will be inspired to share about you, whether to me or to those around you. Or maybe just to yourself.

So August, on a Leona-life-scale, was challenging. It was a grand learning opportunity on lots of levels of my life. One thing that hit hard was that my boyfriend and I split up – a mutual decision. The way our individual lives look for the next lengthy period are so diverse. I don’t want to go into too much detail about this as it is also relating to someone else’s personal life. But overall, (mutually) deciding to break up with your best friend who you love with is tough.

Besides the break-up, I managed to put my life in a spin too by deciding to move back to the Netherlands. I’m still waiting to hear back, which is hopefully tomorrow, but it’s made my mind race back and forth between here and there, between the now and the future. I’ve already thought out infinite different things of what my life would be like living there. And while I know it has no point, because life never goes the way we expect it to, just the way we (unknowingly) need it to. But either way it’ll be a bit strange. I moved away 12 years ago and I’ve almost never even considered moving back. And now, when my dad is gone and there are technically only very few reasons as to why I would move back that aren’t for myself, I am (most likely) moving back. I do really like Amsterdam. I like its internationality, I like that everyone speaks English, I like that its small and walkable. I like that the airport is so close and easy to get to, and that it has so many international connections. I love that I will be closer to my oldest sister. But the possibility of moving is impactful. I’ll keep you posted how this goes.

But alongside external changes, I’ve also done a lot of personal, internal development work regarding my behaviour, the way other people’s actions and words affect me, or rather working to not have them affect me, and to stand strongly in my own shoes.
This has required a lot of self-confrontation and self-reflection. To look at the way I live life and deal with challenges that come onto my path, or how I act in my day-to-day life and the way that influences who I am becoming. It occasionally feels exhausting. But at the end of the day it always feels good.

Whenever I am stressed, angry, being judgemental, I take a moment to release and return all those negative thoughts and emotions. To return them with love to wherever they came from and to focus instead on myself and on the positive things in my life. Not to walk away from the sad, challenging, or frustrating things, but rather to acknowledge them, see them as learning opportunities, and move forward. I know this sounds easy, and I’ve noticed it is becoming easier – but its also hard. It’s a challenge to let go of negative and judgy thoughts when you feel angry – but I know that those are the moments when it counts to actually reinforce this restructuring of my thoughts and behaviours.

And alongside all of the internal and external influence, August was just busy, I had a heavy work load, vacation, and upon return an even more heavy workload. Nothing that isn’t manageable, but there has been lots to do and many extra work hours.

Hard work requires a tasty boost! An açai bowl and a noisette to kickstart my day.

I do feel like I’ve gotten back on track. I spend many afternoons going for a run, taking time to read, and spending time creating. My goal is to work on something creative for myself everyday; whether it is this blog or my book. Sometimes this comes super easy, other days its a struggle. Sometimes the inspiration just appears, like it did the other morning when I wrote most of this post.

I’ve also, amidst the chaos of life, work, and self-development, found time, alongside my “me-moments” to have family moments. Earlier this week Rowie and I went to Oubli to have breakfast and work, we’ve gone to Shell Beach for a swim, and we’ve had lots of work breaks for coffee (also at Oubli – it is both our favourite spot on the Island, and currently during hurricane season the only open spot).

Another way to create some zen in my day-to-day is that (almost) every day, before starting work, I make sure to take a moment outside and do some yoga. Always very short, 10-15 minutes max, but just something to get the blood flowing and my body moving and stretching. Sometimes, when I’m up extra early (for no special reason), I enjoy a cup of coffee while writing in my journal, enjoying the still somewhat cool breeze on the balcony.

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