“When life gives you lemons, make lemonade” according to the saying. In real life it does not always work that way though.

For a while I have been offline. Being offline is not really a problem by itself. However, I strive to share my experiences online.

I do so in order to inspire other expat ladies, wives and moms around the world. Therefor going offline is not the most obvious thing to do.

In this blog I will explain why I needed to go offline anyway. May this story inspire you to take good care of yourself.

Signs of stress

Before I finally decided to go offline, there had been several signs of stress which I had ignored:

1 – It started with the outbreak of the Covid-19 virus in my home country. It made me worry whether or not our family and friends would be safe.  

2 – Then Covid-19 broke out in our expat country. We were confined to our apartment by the government. My husband was sent home to work from there. Nobody knew how bad and how long the outbreak would be. The uncertainty and not being in control of things caused a lot of stress for me.

3 – The moment had arrived that we had to go back to our home country to stock up on food for all of our (farm) pets there. We weren’t sure whether or not we could travel to our home country because of the borders being closed by our neighboring country.

4 – Worst case scenario we would have to ask our neighbor in our home country to go out and buy the supplies. But for her that would mean taking a risk with the virus out there and I did not want to put our responsibility on her. More stress built up in me.

5 – We did make it to our home country though. Hallelujah, I felt relieved. But I knew we would have to return to our expat country in four days. Could we make it back to our expat country? Would we be allowed to pass the borders again?

6 – The day before our return to our expat country, our dog suffered from his hernia and was in a lot of pain. I could not take him to the specialist. She had had to close because of the Covid-19 virus. Luckily, I did have some medication left to relieve him.

7 – On the day of our return to our expat country our cat showed signs of great suffering. He refused to eat and hardly moved. We decided to postpone our return and go see the veterinarian first. The results of the examination of our cat hit hard: he was suffering from severe kidney failure. My world trembled and my heart broke. I felt so lost and so out of control. I decided to stay as long as needed and make sure that my cat would have quality of life left.

8 – In the meantime I wanted to run my business perfectly despite of all the stress and sorrow. And so I continued, not wanting to disappoint anyone; balancing between taking care of and grieving over my dying cat, running the house hold, keeping the business going and completely ignoring my signals of stress.

9 – And then, only days after visiting the veterinarian, the medication no longer worked for my cat. This put so much stress on me that I finally broke down.

Our beloved cat Gijs

Accept, reflect, decide

I had to go offline and focus on the creatures most dear to me. And on myself. It was time for acceptance and reflection.

So, I made a difficult decision. I had to let go of our cat. The veterinarian agreed that it was the only humane thing to do. We buried him in our garden. Even the dog was a bit put off. But this was for the best of our cat.

Back and forth

Two days after the burial of our cat we went back to our expat country. On our way there we were stopped twice by the police. To me this felt very stressful.

It had me thinking: why did we go back in the first place? If my husband had to work from home for at least another two months because of the Covid-19 virus then why not go back to our home country and stay there until it is safe. My husband agreed. At the apartment we packed some things to take back home and we left.

Listen to your heart

While driving away I cried. I felt so relieved that I had followed my heart. With everything that had happened over the past month all I wanted was some peace of mind (and body). In this bizarre and very stressful global situation that we are all in, I finally learned to listen to my heart, to speak up and to do what feels best for me.

Self care

So I made another decision. I had let all this stress taken over me. And it was taking its toll on me and my surroundings. I had to take better care of myself. To set priorities for my well-being. To be kind to myself and to love myself for who I am. To follow my path and to do only what feels good to me.

Furry friends: dog Charlie and cat Gijs

Go offline

To do so, I might go offline every now and then to reflect: Do I still like what I am doing? Am I still following my path? Do I feel happy? What can I do to change this for the better and to have my lemonade after all? All of these (expat) life lessons I can then share with you online.

… make lemonade and cherish life’s lesson

So, when life gives you lemons, do not look away. Accept and reflect. Then decide what to do with them. And when you have taken care of them to your own satisfaction, then make lemonade out of them. And cherish the life lesson you learned.

Stay healthy. Stay safe. Love yourself.

Until next time,
Natasja der Kinderen

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