It’s been a busy time again, being back in the Netherlands. Although not as crazy as last time, when I travelled all over the place. I was able to stay with some lovely family/friends/colleagues. Being grateful for having that in my life and feeling so welcome, so thank you all!
I started with end of the year drinks at the AMC, my old work, immediately after I arrived in the Netherlands. Since I was coming back to work for 4 days the week after, I figured it would be nice to join this too. In 12 hours, I went from peaceful solitary outdoor living, to plane, train and indoor ex-workparty. I have to say it was lovely to see everyone again, but also quite overwhelming. Too much noise, I was talking a lot and there were quite some people in a fairly small indoor space. It’s incredible how I’m not used to that anymore. Apparently, it is something that someone should, or needs to, get used to, even though it didn’t feel particularly nice to me. At some point, I really had to sit down, or else I would have fainted. Total system overload… Just makes me wonder; how much do we ‘need to get used to’ things, or numb ourselves down, to be able to function in ‘normal’ life?
The day after I had a lunch with a group of not so ex-colleagues, which was a more pleasant experience. Less people and a quieter place. Nice to have had the time to talk to most people, before getting back to the job.
Working in the lab again was a weird experience.
Super familiar, quite busy and fairly easy, even after half a year break. It almost felt too easy, kind of like a trap. The idea of just quitting vanlife and showing up to do what I had been doing for the past 7 years and earning decent money doing it. Going back into the rat race, where sadly, I see a lot of stress and frustration. Grant applications, publications and politics, moving ever further away from being able to actually do proper research and experiments. Sometimes, it made me feel a bit guilty for being in the relaxed and (relatively) happy place that I’m in now. I felt the freedom and space of outdoor living fade away, which didn’t feel good. So even though I was happy to help my colleagues and friends and earn some money doing it, I made the right decision to leave it behind.
During my workweek, I was invited to stay at a friend/colleague and at my supervisor’s place. Being welcomed into their family lives, to me, was a special heart-warming experience. Experiencing those family dynamics, brought me back to when I was younger and still lived at home. Even though I was more the type to spend time by myself in my own room, there was still that cosy family vibe that came back to me. A vibe that I maybe someday (when I grow up ;)) could like to be part of again. Sort of a nostalgia for a future potential idea, where I wouldn’t be by myself.
Then it was time for Christmas!
The day before Christmas was filled with yoga. Finally practicing again and afterwards giving an acro yoga workshop with Ellen. That was great fun again!
Christmas day is one of the few days that my family (parents, sister and stepbrothers with partners and kids) spends time together, which I really enjoy. In my family, we have this tradition during Christmas dinner. Each one of us gets time to tell their highs and lows of the year. There is always a bit of resistance and nervousness around it. But afterwards, everyone also appreciates it. We don’t see each other that often and it’s nice to hear how everyone has experienced their year.
However, this year we didn’t do it. Me and my sister had a little uncensored pre-version while we were still at her place, which turned into some good laughs and frustrations about our experiences with ourselves and men the past year. So in the end, I did make some time, together with her, to reflect on the year past.
And what a year it has been! Buying a van, quitting my job, driving south by myself, loneliness, togetherness, love, intimacy, sadness, fear, stress, growth and the list continues…
I remember I was sitting at the beach with friends last summer, before I left, saying that I was curious to find out how life would be around Christmas. It usually turns out in a way I didn’t think of. My mind can imagine loads of things and make up incredible stories, but those stories hardly ever come true. This always brings me back to the practice of being present, which can do with a bit more practice…
The days around new year’s I spent with my aunt M (like in the James Bond movies, which she wanted me to link her to ;)). A great way to end and begin the year. We can have deep conversations, a lot of laughs and I learn a lot from her. We’re also working on organising a retreat together, which we now had the time to work on. All I can say about that, is that it’s starting to look awesome!
The last day of the year we had decided to try something new.
During the past year I’ve been talking with quite some people whom shared their experiences with using drugs with me. I’d come up with the idea that it might be interesting to try magic truffles together (like mushrooms). I have always been very hesitant and a bit scared when it comes to drugs. I don’t like losing control (I’ve had enough panic attacks) and I feel that there’s a price to pay, which I’m not sure I want to do to my body and mind. On the other hand, I’ve also always been curious. Drugs have never really been part of the circle of people I was in when I was younger (not counting alcohol and normal cigarettes). However, nowadays I feel like so many people are familiar with having used/using something, either occasionally or fairly regularly, which really amazes and shocks me. Does that mean it really isn’t that bad, or are people just looking for ways to cope with their lives? The few times I smoked weed weren’t interesting enough for me to make me want to do it more. My curiosity wanted to give this a try and explore what would happen. It’s kind of natural, but then again so is snake venom and raw elderberries and I wouldn’t recommend either of those ;).
Anyway, we had made a whole planning of having dinner really early, so we could start around 6 and be sure that everything would be ok again before the fireworks started (having read that it could last 5-6 hours). We had quite some fun preparing for it. Imagining what we might need, finding ‘proper’ music and the like. Then it was time.
For me, the effect started quite quick, after 15 minutes or so. I felt heavy, lightheaded, a bit sick and restless. We had just been working on my new owl logo, so I could see owls in pretty much anything. Even my aunt looked like one (wise woman she is :)). After a while, when I closed my eyes, I saw really beautiful dancing and moving patterns and lines. But closing my eyes also made me feel my body more, which wasn’t particularly pleasant. I can’t say I really enjoyed the trip (I prefer the one in my van. Not that I’m always blissful in there, but still). My body felt uncomfortable and emotions were less stable and confusing. Maybe also because it was new to me and I felt a bit scared. I laughed, cried and cried laughing. It was hard to keep our train of thoughts and I felt like the connection and clarity we normally have while talking, was clouded, making us kind of stupid, which annoyed me. After about 2 hours the world became a bit clearer again (yay for my fast metabolism). We took the left-overs, but that didn’t do too much. My closed eye visuals were fading and the fogginess started to clear. I felt really happy and relieved after the effect had worn off. We could connect again properly. As we looked each other in the eyes, there was clarity again. My body felt my own, lighter, inhabited and more emotionally stable.
All in all, I can say it was an interesting experience, with some nice visuals when my eyes were closed, but my life is better without. There is already so much magic in it!
It’s time to get back to my vanlife trip. I’m feeling a bit melancholic, just like last time, strange to leave again. But looking forward to seeing my vanlife friends and explore what the new year will bring! 🙂