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.

Being an inspiration junkie

When the idea for this post came to me, I wasn’t sure if I should make it business related or personal. I’ve decided to take a stab at making it both, but in two (or maybe more, you know how long winded I can be) posts. First I’ll tackle personal.

All of last week, my sweet friend Aja stayed here with us. For those that don’t know, she is an amazing accomplished poet. After a long series of “Have you read this?” and “Did you see this documentary?” and my answer repeatedly being “No”, I just started to think about how often I get revved up. Juiced with inspiration and then the moment passes and nothing comes of it. I’m trying my hardest to take a stand to cut that out NOW.

Hence today’s post. Something I pretty much never do, despite my wanting to start sharing stories on Saturdays.

No time like the present to break stupid habits of the past. I have been abundantly blessed these past few weeks and all the days of my life but particularly these few weeks to witness things. Warmth, live music, conversation, love. I’ve been so so so blessed. At the very top of that list and easily one of the top performances I’ve have the luxury of experiencing was Dwight Trible. Not only did he totally tell me I’m a good looking young woman, he literally reached on in and snatched up my soul. Danced with it, opened the heavens and let it rain on me. Such an outstanding, powerful performance. I think that was the start of my larger than usual spiritual opening up. Energy is through the stratosphere. Deal with it.

Last night I had a not so pleasant dream about someone I might have conjured up this week in private chats with Aja. But in some ways, as the day has progressed I am feeling much better about it. Happy about it because in some minute way, I don’t think I ever fully emotionally dealt with it. I have arrived at a new point and coupling this feeling with another friend of mine in Cali telling me she dreamed about me and the entire dream was calm and happy made me feel really good.

But on to being an inspiration junkie. Hi, I’m Sherisa and I really can be a hard core inspiration junkie. Instead of allowing all these ideas pop into my mind and fizzle, I’m taking the bull by the horns. The key to my success is going to being able to trust that others are willing to help me when needed and make these things come to fruition. Also, stopping to take a moment to write out my ideas in one book so I can go to it when something beacons me.

Right now one of my bigger priorities is getting this online project off the ground that I’ve been thinking about for the better part of a year and I plan to introduce this summer. It’s going to focus on history, race, culture and identity. After some conversations with friends this past week, I realized I’m basically creating in my own way the PhD dissertation I would write if I were to go back to school (another topic for another day. That is always something up in the air.) Why wait on money and sit in classes and write because I have to instead of wanting to when I can do that right this very second. This is also very much a part of what I feel in my soul as a some of my calling. And when I’ll need the help from you, my family, I’ll be certain to ask.

Another thing I want to mention is that I’m taking a day-long intensive sewing course with Jennelle next week Saturday. I’m really stoked about it because by the end of the day I’ll be re-introduced to the wonders of sewing and I’ll go buy a machine and start hopefully making my own clothes. Finally, something else from my 29 at 29 list that can help cross off a ton of items. See, I didn’t forget about it one bit.

national sibling day

little sherisa and her little brother

Just because I don’t live in the States anymore doesn’t mean I can’t still participate in the numerous days they designate, like national sibling day. I’ve never even heard of this one until today but I love it. I love it because I’m a lucky girl who loves her brother something insane.

sherisa d wedding photo

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