What I’ve learned: things I’m afraid to tell you
















I feel like I’ve brought this topic of what I envision this space to be A LOT over the past year especially. I know I said I’d start this week with a bunch of posts about lessons I’ve learned in my 20s, and those will start tomorrow. As I’ve mentioned at least one million times before, I’m a long time reader of Jess’ blog, Makeunder My Life. I even had her contribute to my happy lists (which I will start back up soonish). Roughly a week ago, she wrote a post where she listed real life things that show her humanness and don’t leave us all thinking she’s this perfect human being, which in all honesty is sorely missing from the internet.

Then Ez from Creature Comforts picked up on it and set a challenge to everyone to participate on Friday to contribute your own personal stories of things you’re afraid to tell your audience. I knew I wanted to participate but then I started thinking, “well who exactly is my audience?” I know I’ve been blogging for quite some time, but I have no clue who many of you who do stop by actually are. I guess this challenge becomes a bit easier for me than others where I can feel a bit more at ease to share. So here goes…

Although I try to fight it, I sometimes get extremely jealous of other blogger turn designers turn overnight sensations. Or any combination thereof. I don’t dwell on it at all. Most times I’m not even thinking about it. But when it does creep into my brain? Maaaaan, not a good time. I wonder why they seem so “accepted” by the internets. I think a lot of this has to do with my wanting to be farther ahead than I am with business endeavors. I’m human and I deflect and it’s not cool, but it’s real. I know what’s mine is in my grasp, but patience is a teacher if there ever was one.

I also wish I had gone to school for writing. One of my deepest passions is writing. I should be published already. But what have I written? I mean I’ve written things, things I don’t share. I’m definitely growing out of not wanting to share, to at least wanting to write things I’m unafraid to share. I did go to school for Advertising, but that was only because I wanted to do writing I knew I would be paid for. Then I ‘womaned’ up in my senior year and did what I wanted to do.

I’ve had a fairly tough time bonding and fully relating to people living here. I am a very extremely race-conscious woman. I think sometimes it’s a bit too much for people, but if I hid that, I wouldn’t be true to myself and I would just forge surface relationship after surface relationship. I’m not interested in that. Not in the slightest.

In my mental and emotional transition of acceptance that I now live in Amsterdam, I really hated it with all my heart because I felt like I was in the belly of the beast. I started learning at a rapid pace all of the other ways the Dutch were involved in the world at large and just knowing I was laying my head to rest in the heart of the transatlantic slave trade is enough to make me more than uneasy. I’ve since found my own ways to deal with the reality, and recognize the only thing I can do to change it is to leave. Some things you accept (and try not to focus on) and others you change.

I’ve spoken about this before, but the idea of relying on my husband to provide for us really weighed heavy on my ego. I am not used to relying on anyone for my basic day to day and beyond. I think I’ve made my first year of marriage hard for me emotionally as a result.

I am entirely baby crazed. I sometimes think it’s unhealthy. I do worry about it being difficult to conceive. Not something I’m comfortable sharing still, and I have no logical reason to fear it but I do. As bad as I want some little bambinos, I know in my heart of hearts I’m not ready. I even find myself being a bit envious of all the new mamas and preggo mamas in blogland and facebook and everywhere. My only solace is that I know what kind of shape I want to be in well before kiddos enter the picture and I’m definitely not there yet.

I always feel like I should be upfront and question where are all the bloggers of color that aren’t just talking about makeup/natural hair/afrocentric crafts, but I never do. Well, I guess I just did? Harking on that as well, I also wonder where are all the expat bloggers of color? Where are you people???? I can’t be the only one who isn’t just talking about my experience living in a foreign land, but just talking about life in general. SHOW THYSELF! Please?

I have always felt like there is this mostly innocent pressure placed on me by those who know me or think they know me that I should always be totally inspiring and super adult and serious and insightful and successful but feel like I’m never really asked if I need help. I guess I feel like I’m hardly reached out to in general. That’s one thing I’ve always struggled with and it sort of blew up in my face during my wedding planning (something I think I’m still working on getting over to be honest…18 months later).

Well, I’ve think I’ve put myself all the way out there enough for one day. I’ll share more another time. I think it’s important for us to stop pretending our lives are perfect and then only mentioning in 2 sentences “you know, life isn’t always pretty”. I think it’s not only good but important to show the ugly, the awkward, the uncomfortable, the honest because none of us are perfect. We don’t all have the luxury of having doctors and high powered lawyers and whatever else for spouses so we can do what we want. Our homes aren’t always immaculate. We don’t all have our dining tables perfectly dressed, just waiting on perfectly dressed guests to arrive and have our cameras out to catch people being “natural” in our perfectly lit homes. That’s not life, that’s an editorial shoot.

These are some of the things I’m afraid to tell you. I really hope you’ll participate and share some of your secrets as well. Let’s be human, together.

What I’ve learned

Inspired by Sarah at Fairytales are True, I’ve decided to start a short little series about my 20s. I find hers interesting because so far the guest posters are all still in their 20s. Yes, I may only be 30 (as opposed to being well into my 30s) but I think it would be good for me to reflect on the decade now that I’m outside of it. I have the entire 10 years to think about.

I’m not exactly sure how I’ll be posting these thoughts, but I think next week there might be a bunch of tales and lessons and things of that sort, especially since chances are I won’t have most posting time available because MY MOMMY WILL BE IN TOWN!! Yay!

In the meantime, I really want to kick this off by sharing this poem my beautiful friend Aja Monet wrote and performed in collaboration with Camovement, filmed at The Nuyorican Poets Cafe. Enjoy.

I want to know who you are. Plus, a giveaway!

So, I’ve been writing this blog on and off since 2008 and I’ve been awfully curious, sometimes to my detriment, about exactly who is my audience. My goal is a simple one and comes with a delightful little conclusion if you’re up for it.

In the comments section, tell me you are.
This will only count in the comments section
.  Not via facebook, email or twitter.

Where are you from? What do you like reading about on this blog? How long have you been reading? What can I do to improve this space content wise?

A blog is nothing without an audience and while mine is fairly quiet, I want to change that.
I’ve had ideas for things I want to talk about for the longest while, but just haven’t had the right kind of focus. That’s all changing.

For a long time I’ve thought about what exactly I want this blog to be. Plus I think I read way too much ProBlogger. At any rate, while this is turning into more and more a blog about my life, I still want this to be a space that’s helpful and community like. Feel me? So there you have it kiddies. Nothing too difficult.

So let’s get chatty.

In other awesome but unrelated news, today my sweet little prince Pixel turns 1!! We’re going to buy him a laser and teddy bear later on today and hopefully some sort of cat cupcake or something to celebrate his birthday. I already fed him his fancy tuna and mango breakfast. He is so spoiled.

Pixel Vos de Groot. Taken by Sherisa D

As far as the giveaway goes, all you have to do is leave a comment and on by Monday and I will choose a winner with the random generator on Tuesday. To make this juicy, the first person to comment automatically wins and the second person will be selected randomly by the generator. But answering my questions above is key.

This is going to be a long weekend in Amsterdam with Queensday weekend and my all day sewing class, so I’ll be back on Tuesday with some wrap ups and chatter and a winner!

Have a most fantastical weekend my loves!

NY to NL: Quality of life is different in Amsterdam

Canal in Amsterdam, taken by Sherisa D

Without question, living in Amsterdam is nothing like living in Brooklyn. For one, there’s much more water here. More green, too. The buildings are lower and mostly the same height for as far as the eye can see. There are tram lines and bike lanes built into the roads. Just about all sidewalk (and some roads) are laid stone. Cars are smaller, people are smaller (but much taller).

So on the surface the two aren’t that alike. Then you look at other things. Basically Brooklyn is Amsterdam 2.0 if you look at the structure of some buildings in Brooklyn. Sometimes I walk the streets here and I feel like I’m back home. It’s comforting.

One major difference that you can’t really feel until you’ve been living here for longer than a vacation is this incredible feeling of ease. Dutch quality of life surpasses the US far and wide. Yes, there’s plenty to get used to. Some things you won’t ever get used to, which is fine. But the general feeling that things are just not as bad here definitely washes over you after a while. Disregarding the stresses of moving and that awkward adjustment period that can feel like forever, once you’ve settled—I’ll say 13 months or more in—you definitely can bask in it.

At the top of my list for major game changers: affordable mandatory full health insurance. What is there in that to not love? I’ve been covered since January, visited a few times for checkups and I’m thoroughly pleased. I have my general practitioner, OB-GYN, dentist and my out of pocket costs have literally been less than €20. Since January.  On the topic of health, I also greatly enjoy bike riding. That’s something I really learned here. Two falls and one major scar later, it’s my preferred mode of transportation. It makes me want to actually bike ride in other countries. We’ll see if that happens though. The added bonus of lots of parks and general greenery coupled with all the canals and the Amstel River makes breathing a lot easier. I have needed very little medication for my allergies and sinuses since living here.

I’ve been able to really pursue my goal of becoming a writer here in a way I personally didn’t feel comfortable doing in New York. That may have more to do with me than with Amsterdam, but I do feel that it’s a credit to the energy of Amsterdam. I feel like I have less fear living here. I don’t know if that translates well, but I’ve had the tendency to hold myself back when the pond I’m in is over saturated. Here, I feel the exact opposite and it’s giving me the chance to take risks I’ve been wanting to take for years that I didn’t exactly know how to then.

There’s a real gift being able to live in a 3-in-1 city. I see Amsterdam as part super metropolitan/part very residential/part nature. I never had that in Brooklyn. I’m sure I could’ve had it by traveling quite a bit, but how much exactly? My commute to every job I’ve had in Manhattan took on average 90 minutes one way. In 90 minutes, I can be in the south of this country. I really dig that I don’t feel like I’m in the thick of busy city life living in the capitol. When I want that feeling, it’s only 20 minutes away at most.

The concept of time has started to affect me. I now see a 90 minute trip as long instead of necessary. Not always, because if I’m traveling to another country, I get that I’ll be on a train for 3+ hours and it seems super quick. In the same vein, a born and bred walking New Yorker now prefers to bike everywhere. It annoys me to think about how much longer it takes to walk someplace. Bike riding at first was extremely painful, mainly because I stopped walking as much and couped myself up in the house. Then there’s getting over distance riding. Going up and down hills. Once my leg muscles toned up I’ve been good to go. The idea that something is “just down the road” feels quite literal, now.

Every other corner feels like a postcard photo op. I love living here.

The quality of life is something every expat should consider, but you don't really know what you're getting until you get there. In Amsterdam, I've been pleasantly surprised. Click here to see what Jennelle thinks.

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