Saturday, 2 January 2021

Celebrating light





The warm signs of January are welcome to make us more awake. When the sun is shining even a little bit through the thin clouds,  I feel like stepping outside and I want to capture the moment.



Contrasts and reflections are making the reality bigger than it is. Like we could watch the streets and the silhouettes in all a way round, 360 degrees. 

I can see the sky on the street, reflecting from the water puddle.
It feels we could jump in there and end inside the Earth. Like the Earth would be just an invisible bubble or a cell that reflects the space. 

But here I am standing on the asphalt, feeling the warmth of the sun and hearing the noice of my shoes when I'm walking. Celebrating the light.

I'm happy this is real,
Celebrating the life.
The light goes through me with a patient speed.
It makes me curious and it makes me dream.




The first Saturday of 2021

So many sunny days to remember from the last year even it was a hard road to walk sometimes.
What I learned? I learned to appreciate the movement of mind and the movement of body. Together these two are making the action possible.

I learned not to wait too long and think too much before taking the action. Because of the still life in society during the pandemic, the limited possibilities, the loss and the fear we read about. It made me realize I have to start doing the things that really support my interests, my happiness and my health. 



Every year I want to start and learn something new.        

*Happy new Year*

January can start



Wednesday, 9 December 2020

December vibes



I had to take the opportunity to go out this morning and enjoy a long, misty morning walk. The mist is the most beautiful winter elements in Amsterdam and in Holland I think. This is the closest we get to the white Christmas mood. It is comforting and mysterious to walk near the water and inside a park in a morning like this. The contrast between white emptiness and the shapes of the trees, the architecture, the canals and boats just makes me smile. The people disappearing to the horizon and the houses hiding behind the curtain made of minimal water drops in the air.

It is rewarding to experience these sort of magical moments especially this winter. To keep the mind and thoughts healthy and getting some extra energy in these weird times is sometimes connected to the most simple things.
 

Stripes in Vondelpark






Mind talk

It is about choosing the perspective.
Listening and watching, letting the messages and impulses to enter to your conscious mind.
We should not trust too much on our own assumptions, every situation and every person deserves more open ground to be understood. 

The fear of unknown and the fear of loosing control is often stopping us to really listen to ourselves and to other people. 

What sort of challenge makes the unique 'me' and unique 'you' to develop?

We sometimes like to interrupt too much and we like to believe that what we say is right and the absolute truth. It can be a positive challenge to our mind to not always push our point of view in front and let it dominate our behavior. We can try to be a little bit more flexible and give a thought of the opposite way of thinking. We can be friends or have a positively challenging connection with different sort of people. We do not have to stay in our own safety bubble.

I always come back to this theme.
The communication is one of the biggest keys to our happiness in a relationship, friendships and in professional life. This includes how we talk to ourselves and how we draw the map of our mind first. The Personal goals and making plans together are equal important. The needs are changing...because we, the situations and the environmental factors  are changing all the time.

I try to develop in this skill of communication constantly and it is difficult. Sometimes I have to try to "step out of my skin" to let some uncomfortable emotion to go and to be able to understand the situation more objectively.





New perspective 

Spontaneous, inspiring sidesteps

On our many walks last months, we saw some interesting places. For example in  New West, near the little lake of Sloterplas is a local museum, Van Eesteren museum. At the moment there is an exhibition how the youth culture developed in Amsterdam during the time the rock 'n roll music started to spread around the world during the sixties. One part of the exhibition is made from the portrait photos by a Dutch photographer Gijsbert Hanekroot. He took many pictures of famous pop and rock stars during the 1970's and 1980's when they were visiting Holland. We saw some fabulous photos from Mick Jagger, Tina Turner, David Bowie, Patti Smith and many more. Many museums were closed last month, but now it is possible to plan a visit to museums again. It is better to make a reservation online, because of the limited space and capacity during this Corona winter. 

We have some limitations right now, but we can do some small, surprising, inspiring things!! 








Music 

I have always found so much energy and positive recourses from listening to music.

Sometimes I miss the times when we went to dance and had so much fun.

The following video reminds me of the mindset of the youth - BUT let's not forget.. many things are still possible at any age :). 

No one can stop us dancing and dreaming, but sadly we are sometimes our biggest negative voices. 

I have two teenagers in my house. 
Watching their friendships and listening to their stories are so big source of joy.
It gives hope and an example of the genuine, honest and pure attitude in life.

Power music for this week, great positive vibes in this video!



P.S - Insecure times

The amount of new Covid-19 cases are increasing in the Netherlands and in Amsterdam. I just got an email from the highschool of my older child that they will be closed from tomorrow on. Next week they will be back to online lessons until Christmas holiday. The government did not give any strict rules for the schools for this next period until mid January (the rule of using masks was already there),but it seems that the virus is at the moment spreading fast inside the schools as well. The restaurants and cafe's are closed at least until the mid of January. The life goes on with these "given cards" at the moment. You can have 3 visitors at home. Our christmas will be peaceful. We stay home and keep on walking in our hoods.

I wish everyone a lot of strength with the challenges and hopefully the injection process will slowly make some new perspective on this situation. 

I am happy I have my fourth session of the Sound Bowls course this weekend. I have to travel there by train, but I am happy that this opportunity is still possible. I am enjoying my new skills and I am eager to learn some more. 

Sunday, 25 October 2020

Memento Vitae ~ Reminders of Life



Life is now.
 


Remember the good days and the happy feelings.


The Autumn days have been lovely. The soft light and the warm colors are spreading the positive energy. I went for a walk to a small, old graveyard in south of Amsterdam "Huis te Vraag". It is open only few days a week.  It was like walking in a secret garden. A peaceful place in the City if you want to take a breathe and travel back in time. The sun was shining and the old trees and plants were surrounding the old grave stones. Just a gardener doing her autumns tasks, one older lady enjoying the sun and me. 

I have always thought a graveyard is a positive place, a place to remember the stories of all the passed away people and their families. A place to appreciate the life and feel more thankful of the good things we have. A place to respect the dreams we have and the paths we take. 



Aut viam inventam, aut faccian. (Latin)

I either find a way or make one.



Solvitur ambulando     

It's solved by walking



VENI, VIDI, AMAVI

We came, we saw, we loved

Another walk around the Sloterplas in New West.




Transit umbra, lux permanent.

"The shadow passes, light remains"


Saturday, 17 October 2020

Balanced changes



A little bit of Autumn colors here and there. It is slowly getting more yellow and orange at the park. We have continued our walking rounds even the evenings are getting darker and colder. It is different than it was in the summer and it is more challenging to reach the same daily goals now. It is good to have goals, but I have learned to be more flexible in my thoughts. What I can't or feel doing today, I can do tomorrow or some other day. It is common to say " Better do it now and not wait until tomorrow". Sometimes it is useful to do things immediately and sometimes it is wiser to be more gentle and wait for tomorrow. We only know what is best for us right now. Waiting for tomorrow is different than waiting until the next week or to next month. 

This new situation with the covid-19 virus is changing our perspective. We are having now a partly lock down in the Netherlands for the next 4 weeks. After this period it will be evaluated if the current rules had any effect of the amount of the new infections during this time. If not, there will be some more rules. Our own behavior is in our own hands. At the same time our children still go to school and meet their friends and seem quite balanced. Children under 18 can take part to sport training and the schools are going to stay open as long as it is possible. We are planning things for small periods at the time because we do not know what the next weeks are bringing to us. The outside world is unstable, but we want to feel safe inside our own little unit. We need some continuing routines to frame our days and give a feeling we are going forwards. 

This week it has been more quiet on our walks. The restaurants had to close their doors and there was less traffic on the streets. We have a Autumn holiday at the moment. We are staying home. I went to pilates studio this morning and it was great to be there as a small group of six people and the teacher. Keeping the distance and taking care of the hygiene, but enjoying doing some healthy activity with other people. Small delights are important in these days.








I was writing about my high cholesterol level last spring. I am happy to announce that the changes that I made with my eating and drinking habits have lowered my total cholesterol(HDL and LDL-cholesterol) level from 10 to 5. I found an excellent, professional Finnish blog about nutrition and it made my planning easier. I will link the blog article in the end of this blog post. It is in Finnish, but there is also some references to international studies.

This week I saw a small document about genetic high cholesterol (FH disease)on dutch tv. It was about how people are recommended to use  the medication to lower their cholesterol levels and decrease the risk for the heart and blood vessel diseases. The tricky thing is that many of these people feel totally normal and healthy with their high cholesterol, but get many side effects by using the statin medication for their genetic condition. There are some new studies that suggest that the high cholesterol itself doesn't increase the risk for the heart and blood vessel diseases or to earlier death. The bigger indicator can be the individual differences between the blood clotting. The more easily the blood is clotting, the bigger the risk for the problems with the heart and blood vessel functions. 

Anyway I am not a doctor. I just want to point out that you can try to make some changes with your lifestyle to make you feel more healthy and be more healthy. The cholesterol is just a one indicator and there are a lot more behind many conditions: smoking, stress, lack of movement, overweight...the list goes on. 

When I visited my house doctor this spring he was suggesting for me to start using the statins to lower my cholesterol. I was friendly to my doctor, but against this sudden suggestion. I made it clear that I first wanted to make some changes with my eating patterns and I did. He also agreed that the medication is sometimes too easily offered and that eating more vegetables and less animal fat could really help. I think he was worried, cos my total cholesterol was so high and he wanted to lower it effectively and he was suspecting if I had the familiar cholesterol disease (which I do not have).

Like I earlier wrote I had been eating more or less the high fat/low carbs style of diet before and how I did not feel comfortable with it. My body was telling me...this is not for you. I honestly do not think there is only one suitable way of living for everyone. We have to really carefully listen to our body and mind by choosing the right ingredients to support our health. Everyone has their own weaknesses or risk factors that we have to evaluate.

One key of my beter well being is using more vegetable fats and oils instead of animal fats. I use colors on my plate. This means I am using more vegetables, fruit and berries. I do not take too big portions and I try to enjoy every bite that I eat. I can eat something unhealthy every now and then if I get back to my normal patterns the next day. I do not eat evening snacks after dinner.

I am not being too hard on myself. I still have bad habits like drinking too much coffee...but I use oat milk instead of cow milk. I love cheese, but I am not having a collection of 5 different ones in my fridge anymore. I use cheese sometimes when cooking or have a slice of it with a good bread. 

Here is a list of my favorite ingredients to lower the bad LDL cholesterol in a natural way. 

-A handful of non salted and non roasted peanuts every day (especially the walnuts are excellent)

-Eating enough of Oats and barley (fibre: beta gluten). For example a morning porridge of overnight oats are great.

-Pectin from vegetables, fruit and berries. -avocados
                                           -green beans
                                           -pear with the skin
                                           -brussel sprout
                                           -cassis berries
                                           -bataat
                                           -apple
                                           -orange
                                           -plum
                                           -aubergine/eggplant
                                           -okra
                                           -corn
                                           -rasberry

Other good sources of pectin: Black beans, chia seeds, chickpea, unpeeled potato, peanuts, sunflower seeds

-Using Tofu or other vegetable options instead of eating too much meat. Soya products are lowering the cholesterol. 
The different sort of beans and lentils are as good options as well.

-Using vegetal oils( olive oil, avocado, peanuts) instead of hard animal fats(meat, milk products and butter).

If eating less meat is difficult, try to eat more fish and choose less fatty meat products. Fish is not lowering the cholesterol, but the good fats from the fish are good for the heart.

From milk products the cheese and natural yoghurt are better choices  than fatty milk or butter. I Use more soya-, oat- or amandel products instead of milk.

Margarines are not a good options with the bread. The palm oil is often used to make the product harder. Also some other methods by producing the margarine have an negative effect on the quality on the used vegetable oils. The best way is to use more pure and high quality vegetable fats like  

-extra virgine olive oil
-peanuts
-avocado 

I love to dip my bread in the mixture of good olive oil, pepper and  lemon! I also eat often bred with avocado. If you want to use margarine, do not use the light products, because the quality of the fat is often worse in those ones. Also the margarines that are lowering the cholesterol are not necessarily good for the health of the heart. The European heart organisation is not recommending on using the vegetable statin margarines. Just search the information about products before you make your own individual decisions.

-carlic

-filtered coffee instead of espresso-type of coffee (filter stops the   unhealthy fats from coffee entering to your coffee cup)
- dark chocolade (20-30g)

Read also this Harward study about eggs ! It is not dangerous to eat some eggs. We were always taught that eggs are big cholesterol bombs and bad for the heart and blood vessels. 


I am using a bergamot oil pill to keep my cholesterol level low. Many people who can't use statins are using this natural product instead. Bergamot is a citrus fruit from the south Italy. You can find more information about it by searching from the internet. There are several scientific studies made of using Bergamot to lower the LDL-cholesterol.

You can read more from the following link: 
Basic information about Bergamot. If you are using statins, never stop using them without talking to your doctor first!

I am only writing about these nutritional issues, because I want to take a better care of myself. I recommend everyone should go to regular health checks and try to find the ways to improve the health that are suiting to you. You should always talk to your doctor or with a specialised nutritionist if you have a medical condition and use medication. 

Using a common sense and listening to your body, searching the information and taking small steps can make your eyes open. 
By leaving the alcohol use very minimal, eating better quality food and walking daily I surprised my house doctor with excellent results. I lost my zwollen morning eye bags and lost the few extra kilos from my waistline. 



Egg plant filled with cherry tomatoes and onions. One of my favorite foods!

The lifestyle change gave me new energy to start things I had thought over for a long time.

"I had postponed my own plans and my own needs of growth for a while. I had to get my thoughts clear and dig in deeper to reach my own ground again. 
  I learned to trust more of my instinct or the driven feeling I had in some new situations or during the decision making moments. I am still listening other people, but I trust my own decisions and work on the paths and directions I chose."

The most beautiful and inspiring path I found lately is learning to use the singing bowls for relaxing and trying to find the inner calmth and be better connected to your self. I am taking part in a course to learn a singing bowl massage by Peter Hess method. 




This journey takes me to a small dutch town in Friesland for a few weekends during the next months. It gives me a great joy to give this relaxation to my family or to my friends. Especially in this strange time when we might feel some other sort of stress or fear that we are normally used to. Our body consist about 70 % of water and the vibration of these bowls, set on the human body, are moving through our cells. Like dropping a stone in the water, relaxing our system. It is so interesting! I will tell more about this method in some other post. 

With this shaky picture from my evening walk, I wish you a good weekend!! 



 

Sunday, 30 August 2020

A weekend in Trier


It's the end of August and the evenings are getting darker. The summery  heatwave is gone and finally we have some cooler days and nights. Actually we had quite a strong summer storm last week. Some winds blowing about 100km/hour were measured near the dutch coastline. Two days in a row my son came home soaking wet after school. He doesn't want to wear rain clothes when cycling(a typical teenager).



It has been a different year so far, but many nice memories were also  made in these insecure times.


We were mostly at home, but I'm glad we could make a few small trips. Like in many European countries the corona virus cases are increasing also in the Netherlands after the summer holidays. We just try to follow all the rules and stay healthy. It is important that the kids could go back to school and have some social contacts and normal lessons there. At the schools of my kids they only use masks if the teacher wants, at some other schools it is obligated to use a mask at least in crowded hallways. The schools can make their own decisions on some issues, but for example the ventilation should be checked and updated to modern regulations. It is a problem in some older buildings. You can't keep the doors and windows open during the colder months.

As a family we just follow our weekly plans and avoid big crowds of people. We keep it simple at home and try to enjoy the beauty of our daily routines. We are not stopping living and planning, now it's time to dream and  find some new ideas for the future. The virus is among us and we can't just totally stop the spreading of it. There has to be a some sort of balance between keeping the life going on and controlling the corona spread. I don't think the total isolation and spreading the fear is a good thing. I am not anymore following the news about this issue on daily basis. The way media is talking about this is just taking my energy down. The news and the journalism are important, but our time is overwhelming with all the details, scenarios and speculations. I'm just focusing on our well being as a family right now.






Augusta Treverorum 
-Trier-

Two weeks ago we drove to Germany for a weekend with my husband. We visited a very old, actually the oldest German town Trier. We drove nonstop from Amsterdam via Maastricht and Belgium to Trier. It takes about 4 hours and driving through the first flat dutch scenery followed by the beautiful, hilly views of Ardennen (Belgium)...there is so much great nature to see. It's not possible to stop in Belgium at the moment because of the corona rules. 

Trier is an old Roman town. Surprisingly it existed already before the Rome in Italy. There are very many interesting ruins and museums to visit and to learn about the Roman culture. Trier is easy to discover by foot. Just perfect size for a quiet weekend trip. It is also a student town and there is an international vibe when walking on the streets. 




We found many nice terraces and restaurants to visit. You have to wear a mask when entering to restaurant, but the mask can be taken off after you are seated on a table. Also at the Hotel everything was organized well. People are wearing masks in the public areas of the hotel and the breakfast buffet was clever with individually served small portions (breads, fruits, yoghurts, cheese and meats, veggies already set on small individual boards of bowls- ready to take to table).







Porta Nigra

Porta Nigra is the north gate of the town and it used to be a part of the old, more than 6km long city wall around Trier(build around 160-200 after Christ). It was made from a white sandstone which got black over the time, because of the small micro-organisms on the stone. Since the Middle ages it's known as a black gate (Porta Nigra). At one point the whole gate was a part of a new building, a church. The roman gate was hidden and also protected behind these new construction for centuries. During the French rule (1794-1814) Napoleon arranged for the excavation of the ancient building. The extensive conservation work took place between 1969-1973. As a visitor you can go and climb to all 3 floors of the gate, learn about the history and admire the panoramic views.






Amphitheatre

The weather was great the whole weekend and we decided to stay more outdoors. One afternoon we walked to the ruins of roman amphitheatre nearby our hotel. The roman arena was build around 160-200 after Christ. It is estimated there was about 20 000 seats for the audience to watch the animal fights, gladiator shows, religious gatherings and musical happenings in Roman times. Now you can hardly see any seats. The curves of the arena are covered with grass and earth. You can see better the old stone structures under the arena and around it. It is an interesting place to visit and surrounded with nice views.








In the last morning we walked to a hill nearby our hotel and admired the views above the vineyards and over the Mosel valley. It was a beautiful morning and worth to walk there. A last look over the green hills and some fresh air before it got hot in the sun. 











Thank you for the wonderful trip my partner. It was so relaxed and interesting. Autumn can come now. I have some new plans for me for the next half a hear. I will tell about them in my next post and update the info about my healthy lifestyle changes as well. 

...Best September wishes...


We definitely have to go back to Trier. We did not have time to see all the nice places. Maybe next year!

Nice restaurants:


A great place to sit along the Mosel river in a garden like terrace. You can also eat inside during the colder months. We only had drinks, but the food looked delicious. 


More Traditional and elegant place with super good food and attentive service. Modern and fine tuned portions. Fine dining in relaxed athmospere. 

Great, modern, fresh vegetarian dishes. Young&urban style with ecological ideas. Funky interior.

For a late night or a afternoon drinks:


A sandy beach on a rooftop of a shopping centre with a bar. Nice place to chill and enjoy the sky and the silhouette of Trier.