Personal Update: The Happy Part

In my last blog post, I mainly talked about serious stuff: the mental consequences of quitting my job, daily struggles, that sort of thing. But, apart from the good old ‘what the hell am I supposed to be doing with my life’ type struggles, I also suddenly had plenty of time for enjoyment as well. So let’s talk a bit about the bright side of life!


Making music has always been my biggest hobby so it was time to invest in it more. My orchestra had a spring concert that was coming up so it was very nice to practice for that. After the spring concert we picked up practice for a concert in June. Another amazing part of the orchestra is the get-together after practice. People stay around to have fun and drink some beers. I didn’t have to worry about work so I could stay until the end.

Want to see my playing the clarinet? Check this:

When it comes to listening to music, I’m a big fan of both classical music and heavy metal. I visited a couple of concerts and went to Roadburn Festival. All were great experiences that I enjoyed immensely.  I could now go all the way into the festival because there was no work to return to. I noticed I’m getting older because it took me days to recover from Roadburn. It was worth it though! I danced away on the metal-disco into the wee hours of the night, head-banged to some great bands and connected with the people out there.   


I reconnected with my friends and spent more time with them. I don’t know if those of you who are working full-time recognise this feeling, but I always felt like I didn’t have enough time left after work and chores to spend with friends. It felt like my priorities were out of whack, with work always coming higher on the list. I didn’t have to worry about that now! I felt way more relaxed when seeing my friends because there was simply no stress from work in the background. For the future, I’ll have to devise a way to have either less stress or find a way to manage it better.


When I was studying, I used to enjoy cooking a lot. That lost priority when I started working. I now tried to find healthy recipes to make and find the joy in cooking again. The fact that I am now cooking for two was a plus, because then you’re not just doing it for yourself. I felt like a traditional homemaker by supplying my boyfriend a healthy meal every evening, but no shame: I enjoy taking care of him!


Walking is my absolute favourite thing to do. Taking daily walks in my neighbourhood is something I enjoy immensely. It’s such a shame we don’t have mountains in the Netherlands, because my goodness, I would walk in them all the time. Yoga is my other big hobby. I do it everyday for 30 minutes if I can. I’ve written about yoga before, but it’s almost a necessity for me. My spine benefits from the daily yoga practice, as does my mind!


I went on four vacations so far: to Portugal, Scotland (2x) and Italy. They were all really different types of vacations. In Portugal, my boyfriend and I enjoyed a quiet week in the Algarve. We already know that region, so it was nice to come back there. We enjoyed the beaches and the nice food the region has to offer. I had never been in the Algarve during springtime, and it’s absolutely beautiful. All the flowers were in bloom, there was just so much colour!

In May, I went to Scotland alone. My goal was to hike the East Highland Way. That is a long distance trail running from Fort William to Aviemore. I had my eye on that trail for awhile and now was the time to do it. Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to finish it. Already on the second day, I had very bad blisters on my feet. They were returning blisters as well….Back in March, I was hiking around Utrecht and the blisters popped up first, right under the base of both my feet. I figured that in May the skin was healed enough to do the EHW. But no, the nasty buggers returned with a vengeance. Every step of the way was agony. I ended up on a campsite, feeling very down and in doubt. If I continued I’d be in the wild for three days, on my own. The risk didn’t seem worth it, so I decided to quit the trail. It really felt like a failure at that time, but it was a valuable experience anyway. Being alone was very tough, tougher than I had anticipated. During the day I had enough to do, walking, and I met some nice people along the way too. But right after I pitched my tent a very weird feeling would creep up on me. I couldn’t really identify the feeling, it was sort of a mixture of feeling homesick for my boyfriend, feeling super happy about being in nature, and feeling like I should have been born in Scotland. Really odd. (I promised this would be a more positive post and it is. I just want to say this because even during travel, the struggle can happen.)

In the end, Oliver came to Glasgow and we had a nice weekend there with some sightseeing. I was still feeling a bit disappointed at that time, but we were going back to Scotland at the end of July to experience more of Scottish nature.

In June I went to Italy with a good friend. We visited Venice, Lake Garda and Milan. It was 8 years since I had been to Italy last and it was great to be back. It was hot, very hot, the whole time. Venice is just about as touristy as you would expect, but it’s an amazing city. If you go off the main island to one of the smaller ones, you have the Venice vibe, but fewer crowds. I had many great pizzas and great coffees during this holiday.

In July we went to Scotland again, this time with the car and with the tent. The North Coast 500 route is an amazing 500-mile road-trip with plenty of activities to do. You can view our report here:

The big trip still has to happen though….Oliver and I will travel for 3+ months starting in August. Going on a long trip, that has been my dream since forever. Many people in the Netherlands go on such a trip when they graduate, but I was super-duper broke at that time. I started working and before I knew it this thing called “career” happened. Now that I’ve put that on hold for a bit and saved money it is time to let the dream come true. It’s even better now that I can share this experience with my sweet Oliver! We haven’t planned much of the trip. We only broadly know where we will be going. We start our adventure in Indonesia and after visiting a couple of the islands we will go to Northern Thailand. We’ve been there before and fell in love with the region. We now want to explore it at a slower pace. After that, we’re not sure where we’re going. We only know that we want to end our trip in Japan. I’ve always had an interest in Japan and the Japanese culture. We’re learning the language a little bit now and I recognise many words and small sentences from watching way too much anime in my life. Never figured that was going to come in handy! After Japan, the money is probably nearly gone, so it’ll be time to go home and back to work.

What makes you happy outside of work?

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