Saturday, 6 June 2020

30 000 Healthy Steps

We are having a first rainy day after a long period of warmth and sun in Amsterdam. It is time to look back to last weeks and what happened to me personally. I have seen so much beauty during this challenging spring time and something has changed inside me. Even the most negative news, the shaken world situation or personal difficulties are not taking me down. All I see and feel is the wind of change that has helped me to realize that only I am responsible of my own growth as a person. I have to take the decisions that are good for me and it is my responsibility to draw my borders and decide how I react on challenging situations. That is all I can do. 

This simple clarity gave me the strength to do some personal changes. One of them is this idea of walking every day minimal 10 000 steps. I have downloaded an app on my phone to follow up my walking habits. Normally I cycle a lot for practical reasons, but by walking I have found the most inspiring corners of Amsterdam. Most of the times I do these walks with my husband and this is helping us to deal our difficulties as a couple. Talking is easier outside and we can listen each other better in other environment than home.

I share you some impressions from two different walks this week. During these walks we achieved about 30 000 steps in 2 days. I have missed the nature and green views more and more this year. We can't find the same peace and quiet rhythm here as we do every summer in Finland, but even near Amsterdam there are some nice areas where you can enjoy your time outside surrounded by the water views and green silhouettes. 

On monday we walked along the water from the canals of South Amsterdam and along the lake(het Nieuwe meer)towards to Amsterdamse Bos. The walk lasted almost 4 hours with a little snack break. We found an excellent boat connection to the other side of the Nieuwe meer and could spontaneously walk via "the woods of Amsterdam" back home. The boat trip was 1 Euro per person and you can take the bike on board. All the walks we have made are also nice to do by bike and for us it felt like being abroad in this Corona time. I find it very  interesting to explore our home town in this way. 

de Nieuwe Meer: you can see the boat route (Helena) as a white line crossing the water.

Breaking some habits

I have changed my eating and drinking patrons this spring. I never felt that alcohol is a big problem for me, but lately I just felt my system, my body doesn't want it any more. When I was younger I was going out every week with my friends and drinking alcohol was always part of it. We were dancing and drinking until late at night. During the last years we were more or less just drinking home: a glass of wine or maximum two with my husband. Otherwise we just had some drinks with our friends during the visits. 

One year ago I started to feel that I actually hate alcohol and how it makes me feel. It used to give me more energy and good spirits when enjoyed with a good company, but lately I just started to feel tired and it seemed to be just an old habit to relax with a glass of wine. But even a small amount of it destroyed my sleep and I got slow and my body seemed to be fighting against the chemical attack.

One day I felt I don't want to drink anymore regularly. I just did not miss it anymore. It did not help me to communicate better, it did not help me to find more joy in my life. I wanted to feel sharp and face every day the way it comes. Still I would drink a wine or a cocktail at the party or when we were invited for a dinner. But otherwise I would give my body and mind a rest, letting go the almost daily habit of wine and leave it to some social situations if I felt like it. The whole process that I am going through is to listen to what I feel and what my body needs. The change was very easy. I do not have any need to buy some wine or beer for normal days and my body says "thank you". During the last two months I only had some wine with the dinner when we went to visit our friends. I can enjoy it when it's just every now and once a month.

Cauliflower  beef going to oven with some spicy olive oil, chili and herb based mixture (25min, 180 celsius.)

Eating more vegetables.
I had a health check by the doctor about a month ago. I had felt tiredness for a longer time and woke up often during the night. It turned out that I have a lack of vitamin D and that my total cholesterol level is much higher than recommend. The high cholesterol runs in my family and I have to be careful with it. I have a normal weight, I do sports, I do not smoke, my blood pressure is normal and we cook quite healthy food. Still I have a high cholesterol. I will come back to this issue some other time, but I just want to remind it is important to do regular health checks after you turn 40. I would like to avoid the medication and make more healthy choices and avoid the stress.

I will attack to this problem by eating less animal fat and go and test my results again after the summer. I have cooked quite a long time low carb style. This diet includes a lot of vegetables, but also a lot of hard animal fat. I did no feel totally comfortable with it. I have started to follow more like a mediterranean style food philosophy: olive oil, peanuts, much vegetables,fruit and berries, sometimes fish and almost no meat. I left all the fetty creams, cappuccinos, butter and extra sugars etc. I feel better. The more colorful plate of food, the more happy I am. You have to be careful with all the trendy diets there are. Like me having a genetically high cholesterol, I really have to avoid hard fat, but still know that some plant based oils and margarines are not always good as well. Instead of butter I use olive oil. It is better really to learn to listen to your body and how it reacts to different foods. So I take the best parts of different ideas that are suitable for me. Everyone is different. 

Getting to know new places in Amsterdam. 
Because we had more time to be outside lately, we wanted make our horizons wider in our home town. This week we had our second walk around the Sloterplas. This lake in "nieuw West"(new west)is a beautiful spot for a longer walk (6km), for a swim at the sand beach or just having a picnic on many grass fields around the water in Sloterpark. A very peaceful route around the lake with nice views. You can cycle here easily from the centre or take a tram number 1 or 17 to direction "osdorp". It is worth to explore the city further than just staying in the centre. It gives the feeling of freedom to have more space and see people enjoying their time in these green living rooms of Amsterdam. This park is one of the biggest in Amsterdam and gives a real picture of the many faces of the City. At the moment this is my favorite route.

Many personal changes and dreams are in my mind right now. One of them is that I hope we are able to go to Finland this summer. Hopefully our flights will not be cancelled. I want to see my parents and my sister and enjoy the peace at the summer cottage by the lake. We will be quite isolated there and we will be careful. 

I am thankful that I have got rid of the unnecessary feeling of shame. I do not find it so difficult anymore to talk about my weaknesses or about my history or what I really want. I am getting closer to the courage and the honesty and trust more to this moment and the future. I have surprised myself that I can so easily let go some patterns and do some changes I want. 

Happy weekend!

Sunday, 3 May 2020

Recharging Outside

I recommend having a daily walk alone or with someone. This helps a lot against the stress, keeps up the condition and improves the communication if you have a partner. Otherwise it is important to connect with yourself as well.

I know it is not possible to have big walks outdoors in every place yet. Some countries are heavier hit with the corona-virus and more or less locked down. We are still keeping our distance outside, but free to have a walk as a couple, as a family or with a friend. We try to find the routes and times when it is less busy and easier to avoid other people. 

Kids are having some sport training again, but keeping their distance to the trainer. Contact sport will be more focused on building up the condition and practicing individual skills. Children over 12 years have to keep the distance to each other. The elementary school will also open the doors after the spring holiday. Only for two days a week for half a class and the other half going to school in different two days, otherwise homeschooling. This is an improvement...I hope it is a good decision. Our older child will be continuing the online lessons and some other tasks from home. 

Lately we took more time to ourselves as a couple. 

With you
Without a direction, getting rid of some thoughts and getting space for the connection and for new perspectives.  

 Finding peace, we are going to be fine.

Focusing on details and having the courage to say meaningful words, exposing the scars for the growth and healing.

A new habit has born in this corona time. We are having long walks together at the park, in the woods, at the beach and we are talking more than ever. Keeping our distance to other people, but getting closer to each other again. It is possible to get over from the old phase and get to the next level. When the times are different and harder, finding back the humor in our relationship and not taking ourselves too seriously is helping to get rid of the extra stress and pressure. 
Recharged :))

Thursday, 16 April 2020

Limited springtime

Much has changed in our life since my last post in March. The spreading of Corona-virus took a huge spurt in Europe, in the USA and all over the world in such a short time. The surreal pattern of this pandemic development is repeated in different countries. Often it is not taken seriously enough during the first days and weeks, even there is more and more information available and the hard hitten countries, like China and Italy, are warning about the effects. The experience of these countries, their guidance and the international team work of scientists is important for planning how  to control the spreading of the virus and keeping the Health care system effective enough during this crisis.

Home is the centre of our private world nowadays. We are missing some social contacts, the freedom to be spontaneous in the outside, going for a holiday and taking part in hobbies. But we know it is important to adapt to this situation and stay home. We have luckily enough of space at home and it's possible to have a walk or a jog at the park nearby. We keep our distance and try to make the best of this period of home schooling and working home. We are cleaning and clearing the house like many others and more mindful with basic things like eating and keeping up "the positive mood". 

These outdoor pictures are mainly taken last weekend in Laren. We visited the nature area near the mansion of Verwolde. Normally you can visit the house and the garden around it, but because of the corona it was obviously closed. The weather was great for a walk, so we had a beautiful walk in the woods around the house. We also noticed a very nice holiday house for rent. It is located just beside the mansion.  A nice option to stay near the nature with a family some time in the future. Have a look here .  

Corona reality
I have watched too much news lately. I hope we are staying healthy and that the kids do not have to live like this for too long. Some scientist are saying we might have to live in this "1,5 meter distance reality" until 2022. So we have to accept there will be some limitations for a while. There might come some new waves of corona infections if the cure and a proper injection will not be invented. This crisis will have so many unpredictable influences on our lives. We do not know when we can get back to normal. It will be a slow process and will happen with small steps. The economical, mental, sociological, health impact and the educational challenges...the list goes on! 

Pink words at the park: Geen paniek- No panic

Now is the time to be kind and supportive. We have to be patience, think carefully our priorities, respect each other and help other people. This is also a time when the art, the nature, sport and culture can help us to stay mentally and physically fit and balanced. Luckily my favorite pilates-studio has online lessons. We need to take some moments to ourselves, because we spent so much time with our families now. But it will be a totally different story if you are lonely. It is important to stay in contact and ask how other people are doing. Simple things can help.

Take care


Sunday, 8 March 2020

A chance to change

I have been reading about the climate change almost every day during the last few years. You can't avoid seeing the titles in the news papers, in the internet, on Tv or hearing people of all ages talking about it. One thing bothers me in some of these discussions and reactions. It feels like there are very opposite sides on this case: some people are refusing to believe there is a climate change going on and the other side is painting big devils on the walls, saying there is no hope in the situation we live in. Many people are thinking that this process is something that always happened on our planet, there always was a change of climate and people have very little input to this change. It sometimes sounds like a big fight: who is right and who is wrong! 

I guess there is not such a very simple one truth. But there is an unhealthy process going on around us and it will affect on our lives in very basic levels. The food production will be challenged, more and more people may loose their homes in extreme weather conditions and there will be increased pressure to move to the areas with more stability. 

Our life conditions have developed better in many ways during the History and we live much longer these days than the generations before us...but the Nature is slowly collapsing around us. 

Maybe it would be more effective just to talk about the health influences of our actions. The healthy environment is good for everybody: for people, for the animals, for plants, waters and forests. A healthy environment is based on clean air, clean water, clean earth, clean food. I would like to see people and different countries making good choices to limit the unhealthy habits and circles of production and consuming. The industry and the leaders have to make better rules and commit to this healthy planet project. The scientist are following up the changes, measuring the facts and making prognoses how bad or good our situation can develop. No one can claim that the environmental changes and extreme conditions, like forest fires, are not affecting  to the physical and mental health of the people living in those areas. 

If one doesn't want to speak about the climate change, would it be more easy to talk about the health problems of our ecological system and it's impact to our life. Who doesn't want to have good air to breathe, clean water to drink and enough good quality food to eat. I often think of my children when I study the latest news about our planet. Parenting is a long term mentorship in so many ways and I have learned to be more attentive to many important things since having my own kids.

We had a Winter holiday last week in the northern part of the Netherlands. It is very popular that the dutch people go for skiing holidays during that time. I can understand that. Dutch winter is far away from the concept of "real winter". It is constantly raining this week.

We have been taking some healthy steps towards a better balance as a family. The holiday seasons are dedicated for being together. My husband  planned all the holidays in advance and he is totally present when the kids are having their school off. Last week we took the train for a few days trip to Berlin. Traveling by train instead of driving a car was a stress free journey, it took about six hours from Amsterdam. I enjoyed watching the landscapes, seeing the stations and even hearing the sounds of a moving train.

A nice family room in Lulu Guldsmeden hotel

The absolute "Hit", thinking of the kids, was driving the long streets of Berlin with an electric kick scooter. We noticed during our stay that one museum visit per day is the maximum for our teenagers. They need some fresh air and action. I was surprised how fun and effective way of transportation this kick scooter was in a large scale city like Berlin. You just download on app to your telephone, inlog and pick the scooters from a street. You can find them from everywhere. It is quite expensive, so we just used them a couple of times for moving longer distances.

We visited two museums this time: the DDR-museum and the Jewish Museum. These places were interesting enough to all of us. I really liked the Jewish museum in many ways. The architecture of the modern part of it is just amazing. The contrast of the spiky, geometrical forms of the building and the individual stories from the second world war with personal belongings was touching. Big open spaces made you feel small and the light coming from the top was giving some hope.

The Holocaust Tower (Jewish museum)

Great photography from Israel by Martin Collar (Jewish museum)

One week after the holiday we got some sad news. It just reminded how precious the time with your loved ones is. 

We always have a chance or many chances to change, but it can be very difficult.
First of all we have to be motivated and feel it's worth it and stop being too hard on ourselves. 

Caring about yourself can be harder than anything else. 

We just lost one charismatic and friendly person one week ago. Someone who was struggling with himself.