Tag Archives: lifestyle

Motivation can come from an unexpected angle!

When you move overseas it is pretty normal to expect to lose a bit of motivation and to have moments of doubts, regrets and maybe even anxiety. I am sure I have it all but I have set myself some rules.

Rule number one is that I don’t allow myself to have any expectations and anticipations. This may sound hard to do but so far I am quite good at it. Every time I feel I get a moment of ‘WTF’ did I do that for, I think of that rule. And believe me the moment just goes…

Rule number two is NOT to blame the new surroundings for anything. A simple example is the weather. We all know or can imagine that the climate of Brisbane where we used to live is close to perfection. Mark my words as I say ‘close’ to perfection! It is certainly not perfect as the summer months can be a hard slug.

If someone tells you differently, do not believe them! They may talk about a one-off mild summer, not about the average steamy one. The Brisbane summer is hot, humid, sweaty and long….. I lived through 17 of them so I consider myself to have an informed opinion.

False expectation and motivation

We arrived in Limoux, South of France and ‘expected’ to get a bit of a ‘late summer’, something like an Indian summer. Well so far, I hardly had to wear my summer clothes and am struggling to find suitable warm items to wear.

motivation, weather, South of france

Dark skies, cool temperatures and possible rain in nearby Esperaza

motivation, Limoux, weather, autumn

Breezy weather due to an active Tramontana wind from the mountains

The locals say it is not normal for the time of the year. Looking at the last two summers it is indeed not the same. So the weather is a bit disappointing and off course the following happens immediately. That nasty little monster called doubt sticks up his head and points out what I have left behind – beautiful almost perfect Brisbane weather.

Not allowed, as I said! It is not the mistake of Limoux that the Indian summer has skipped the town this year. It is what it is! I saw with a hint of sarcasm that Brisbane had already temperatures of over 30 during August and forecast is a long hot wet summer. OMG am I happy not to be there!

An ‘painful’ source of motivation

The other day something happened that stirred up quite some emotions within me. My daughter who is still in Brisbane saw that our family doctor of 17 years had passed away. Quite a shock as he was only 52. Apparently he felt unwell and just died – could have been an aneurysm. Who knows….

It made me realise that life is fragile. We have only one shot at it and it can be taken away so easily. Thinking about my GP made me realise that we need to live life when it is there. We have decided to change our lifestyle because we feel we have another adventure in us. We made the choice after years of ‘umming and erring’ and we will take every consequence that comes with it.

Even a less than perfect Limoux after-summer 😎 .

motivation, Limoux, walking, hiking, hills

At the top and feeling on top of things are great for motivation!

I am really sad about my GP. He has been absolutely brilliant on several occasions that I had a bit of a health scare. This doctor rang me at home on a Sunday night to tell me that I was resistant to the antibiotics he had prescribed. He personally changed bandages for 2 weeks after I had a skin craft as a result of a skin cancer. And he was the one who enquired about my pain management when he found I had a huge white blood cell count due to an infection.

Strangely his sudden death has given me new motivation to make the most out of this new adventure in Limoux or wherever we end up. His passing away makes me realise how easy things can turn. I am shocked and sad about it but it also gives me a boost to take this opportunity with both hands and live it to the fullest.

I just needed to get this of my chest!

See you next time to show off some ‘gems’ in the immediate surroundings….

 

 

 

 

My first baby steps as an ‘expat’ living in France

I think the word ‘expat’ is a funny word. It literally means  ‘to voluntarily be absent from home and country’. In that case I am a third degree expat as I have now left 3 countries before I arrived in France.

A bit crazy, don’t you think so? Does that mean I can’t find my way anywhere or am I just very adaptable and make a home wherever I land?

My ‘expat’ history

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Growing up in the Netherlands but always with a hunger for foreign adventure.

From The Netherlands, to UK, then Australia – even a short stint in Switzerland, and now France. Officially I belong to this group of expats however I really don’t like the name . I always saw myself as a resident in Australia. While I was living in London I never even thought about what I was. And now in France the likes of us are apparently called ‘expats’.

Why don’t I like it?  Well, what comes straight to mind is Brits who live abroad but only want English things. Just think of the film ‘Shirley Valentine’. Good old Pauline Collins succeeds in making tourists extremely happy by offering them a full English breakfast. Right there in a Greek taverna on a pebbly beach, they want the full works. It made me laugh but also cringe…

There is this  Facebook group ‘Nederlanders (Dutch) in Australia’ who chose to live on the other side of the world. And you know what they do? They spent precious time on dreaming about Dutch fast food and discussing where to get it Down Under.

I am guilty of never thinking about Dutch food. 25 years in Australia and not one ‘patatje, kroket or frikandel went through my mind and mouth. Actually I made one little slip when my visiting second cousin wanted a ‘broodje kroket’ and off course she found a supplier in Brisbane!

expat, life style, Dutch food, broodje kroket

The one and only time I had this Dutch concoction was after 25 years living in Australia

And you know what? I think the food in Australia is nice, fresh and diverse albeit a wee bit expensive. Occasionally I may have had a fleeting thought about Dutch cheese but the imported stuff we get Down Under is just not the real thing. I just made do with what Australia offers. By the way NOT the plastic bricks that Australia dares to call cheddar.

expat, lifestyle, Dutch cheese

Dutch cheese – the variety is overwhelming!

Now back to the expat thing. When I was looking for a house in 2014 I saw villages that were overrun by expats. Some so bad that the French locals avoided certain times and places in their own town. Sad but true. A pity as these towns had appeal, hence all the expats who live there!

What kind of ‘expat’ do I want to be?

I like France for what it offers in many aspects. I like to meet all kinds of people – French, English speaking and other Europeans. ‘They’ say it is hard to integrate in French villages. I can tell you it would be just as hard hard in Dutch villages. You will be tolerated and accepted but you are never going to be one of them. That is the same all over the world, even in true ocker Australia. And to be honest, does that matter?

expat, lifestyle, life in france

One that considers himself true Aussie!

Since we own our house I have met and befriended several French people. According to some they are all from other areas in France than Limoux and surroundings. Well, again does that matter? They are also French after all.

I am sure my authentic Limoux French neighbours in opposite, next door and around the corner of our house have nothing against me living there. They greet me, some help me tremendously and even have keys to our house. I will never be one of them and I am not trying to be either. I am just friendly, make effort to speak and learn better French and live the way they live in Limoux.

expat, life style, Limoux, life in France

Eglise St Martin in Limoux Рjust a stone throw away from the central Place de la R̩publique

My first steps as an expat

During the last week I have joined a couple of expats groups and I have met some lovely people from a variety of countries. I like that but I will make sure that is not going to be my only network in France. And I am sure they don’t do that either. One of the things I have noticed in this area is that most imported people have made the effort to learn and speak French. Many of them had kids that grew up here and are french kids.

You would do yourself short by not being able to speak the local language. Still I have seen people complaining on forums about the life as an expat in France. It is not rare that they barely speak French after years of living in this country. Still they dare to complain that they could not integrate. Don’t make me laugh!

So to sum it up, here in France I am an expat because I have expatriated my home country voluntarily. For the rest I am a new resident of France who has come here to become part of the French lifestyle and enjoy this beautiful country. Anybody who crosses my path, from whatever background, will be part of that experience.

expats, lifestyle, life in France, Limoux, river Aude

The beautiful River Aude – every day and every light make it look different and fantastic for a good picture.

It is an adventure and I am looking forward to it a lot!

expat, emigration, life in France, life style

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Love to you all!