Breaking with Routine (A Good Dutch Day)

I’m a creature of habit. I don’t do well going outside the normal box that is my daily routine.  That might seem surprising given the very abnormal life that we lead.  But it’s true.

Lately, I’ve been breaking out of my routine.  My work is mostly complete and I’m in the midst of becoming unemployed.  A very strange feeling for me as it’s only happened to me twice in the time since I graduated college (once by choice and once not and I was back to work within 2 months in both situations) which was a (very) long time ago.

As you probably remember, I’ve been seeing a career coach to help me figure out what is next on the horizon.  In talking with her, I mentioned that I enjoyed photography.  It’s not something I see as a career, but a hobby.  Her assignment – to go take some pictures – taking time for myself, alone.  The pictures themselves were not hard for me to take, it was the breaking of habits and routines that I found hard!

But with my time coming closer for my next appointment, I knew I had to get on with it. So a few weeks ago, armed with my trusty Canon DSLR, I set off for one of my favorite canals by my house.  I didn’t plan to stay long and in fact, was dressed completely inappropriately for the weather in my short running pants, no hat or scarf.  But after a few pictures, I thought…hmmmm, this is kind of fun and relaxing.  And so I decided to go over to the Vesting, my happy place when I run, to snap a few more.

When I go running through the Vesting, I’m at peace.  It’s different than running in Barcelona.  It’s actually hard for me not to want to constantly stop and take pictures when I’m there.  The beauty is always breathtaking – every single time.  Whether it be the fog rolling in over the canals, the trees with their first buds of spring or the baby lambs along the way, it’s just beyond the point of lovely.

I started to take a few shots here and there in the Vesting with the intention of being done quickly.  It was cold out!!  But I got caught up in the moment and time flew by.  At one point, two older gentlemen walking their dogs asked me what I was taking pictures of.  I mentioned this in my last post about Dutch Kindness.  They immediately took me under their wing (no pun intended) to show me these beautiful birds that they knew were nesting near by.  They called them Ice Birds (known here as ijsvogel).

It’s neither here nor there about whether I captured the image of these birds.  Ok, I didn’t get a great shot.  But it was about the experience.  I took a chance going outside my comfort zone and my routine and I was rewarded with meeting several nice people along the way.  Because a woman standing there with a camera with 2 men pointing across the canal at something garners attention and people kept stopping to see what we were up to.

In breaking with routine, I’ve been trying to do small, simple things.  Such as at baseball practice a few weeks ago, the sun was shining and the temperatures were above freezing 😉 and so I decided to go for an evening run while Aidan practiced.  I NEVER run at night – only first thing in the morning.  It might seem like such a small change, but it made a world of difference to me because it means I can do other things in the morning if need be. It felt good to make even a small change to my daily life.

I’m trying to stress less and focus more on the “now”.  Josh and I were watching a program called “Cooked” on Netflix the other night and the setting was in Morocco.  The time they took to make their daily bread and the pace of life fascinated me.  Why are we always so rushed?  Even here in the Netherlands, my life takes on a different pace than that in Spain (but not quite as bad as the US – though close) where we moved a bit slower. One of the ways I hope to change things up, is to slow down.  Yes, dishes and laundry need to be done.  But do I need to complete that photo album now?  Or write that next blog entry (hence the long time between entries lately)?  Or can I just take things a moment at a time.  It’s not a perfect system and it’s a work in progress like anything else.  But I’m trying to remind myself that change is good and the system I had in place before wasn’t effective and I wasn’t happy – I need to change the dance.

When we lived in Spain we would often say we are having a good or bad Spain day. Because we got off to such a bad start here, I feel like we’ve had this cloud over us with bad Dutch day written all over it. Now that doesn’t mean all days are bad. In fact most are good. But we’ve had this hanging over us so long that we’ve forgotten to acknowledge those good days.  But nor have I been making the concerted effort to make them better.

We’ve been doing that more often now and my heart feels lighter.  Maybe it’s that spring is here and the winter doldrums have (somewhat) passed.  Or maybe it’s me breaking with routine and living to tell the tale.  Or even the fact that the load I carry is a little lighter without work pressures on top of it, making me feel more at ease.  But after almost 2 years, things are looking up.  I’m going to keep trying to break with my routines and see how it goes.  

Knuffels en kussen,



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