I also believe that there is some beauty in all things ugly, and my father was no exception. I feel that because we really knew who he was and have seen all of his darkness, we are also the ones who can decide to hold on to his beauty and his strengths. The good experiences we had with him as our father also influenced us on who we have become as adults and some of the strong positive Oostra traits were very present in our lives on a daily basis. After his passing it was our choice to hold on to this beauty.
My recent move to France has felt a bit like coming home to me, reconnecting with my European roots and remembering my childhood in a more accepting, loving way. Especially with the winter and snow arriving, I fondly remembered our ski holidays when we were children and I let myself cherish those happy moments without it being overshadowed by all the sadness which came with it.
Moving to a new country during a global pandemic and a second lockdown meant I spent an awful lot of time solely in the company of my little adventure pup Mac. I used that time to focus on being comfortable again in my own company. `To let go of all the white noise in my head. Through this solitude I regained my confidence, my happiness, and my self worth. Just like the mountains in Nepal had a healing effect on me, so did the mountains in the French Alps. I felt my energy returning, my optimism, and enthusiasm for all the things I loved so much.
It is funny how you attract the right people in your life when you are in a position to be completely yourself. Slowly but surely I started to get surrounded with like minded people from French neighbours to Dutch landlords and English adventure gurus who made me feel accepted and would applaud my restless feet and thirst for adventures. I started to live the life I wanted to live, surrounded by mountains and outdoor pursuits and people who inspired and challenged me to always look forward and progress.
|Learning French from Lucille during a ski tour|
|I have fallen on my feet with my landlord Gerard who takes me skiing and introduced me to Yann who is equally as mad as me in adventure pursuits|
For many years in Scotland I felt that there was something wrong with me, that the way I looked at life or what I wanted from it was simply a fairytale and that I had to change my views and face reality. For years I really struggled coming to terms with that and yearned for a different life than the one I was living. It felt like a continuous battle to stay true to myself in a world where I did not feel accepted. My journey with chronic pain did not really help that situation and I am aware that my negative feelings towards the UK also stemmed from getting injured and having to give up on my dream of basing my life around a world of outdoor sports and adventures.
|My best friend Jantiene coming over was a week of big smiles|
I am not someone who is easily proud of things I have done, being the eternal self critic, but when I look at myself today and how happy I wake up in the mornings living a life I have always dreamt of, I feel pride that I simply never gave up and kept on working hard at achieving it.
I am grateful for the people who have come into my life since I have moved to France. People I now call my friends who have immediately accepted me, made me feel welcome and have given me the confidence to just simply be me.
I feel grateful for the company I work for, Joii Pet Care, through which I can work remotely to make this lifestyle happen and who have given me enough working hours to be able to piece my dream together financially. I feel grateful for my friends spread all over the world who have been there for me through the good, the bad and the ugly and inspired me to keep chasing my dreams. And I feel very grateful for the strong bond I have with my sister, who always knows what to say when I fall silent. I believe that with gratitude, happiness has a chance to flow.
|The best adventure pup in the world|
|During lockdown we got very fit in our vertical km radius|
|Joii who helped me chase my dreams|
Managing my pain levels will always be a bit of a balancing act, but I have found a great physio who understands the complexity of it all and with whom I will continue on from what I have been doing in the UK with the Meta team. My body feels stronger than ever with energy levels I have not felt for many years.
This made me want to challenge myself and I started started 2021 with a ski challenge where I wanted to ascend the height of Mont Blanc (4809m) in one day and I surprised myself by climbing 5500m in 10 and a half hours.
|On my way to my final ascent during my skimo challenge with my cheer club Gerard and Yann joining me for the last climb|
I have been able to do solo ski tours high in the mountains which I never thought I could do in my first season here because of my lack of experience and skill set but skiing with Yann and learning from him has progressed my skiing to another level. I have a few more ski adventures on the bucket list before the snow disappears making me feel anxious and excited at the same time!
This summer I have a few bike challenges on the radar and running an ultra trail through the mountains is also something I would love to do. Other than that I simply love exploring the incredible nature which I can call my backyard. I might do the same loop day in day out but somehow it never looks the same and it always literally and physically takes my breath away!
|living the dream|
|Yann challenges me on a daily basis to progress in every possible way|
Through a Skype call my sister told me “I am so happy I have Nienke back” Which is exactly what it feels like, I am truly, utterly, honestly, and happily, me again.
|My North, My South, My East, My West|
My father always used to say that life should be one big party but that you have to decorate it yourself. Ironic coming from a man who suffered from depression and endured several suicide attempts. It is however something which I often think of when I am standing in front of difficult decisions. Both my sister and I inherited a never ending optimism from him, as sense of humour for when things go horribly wrong, a stubbornness in our pursuit of happiness and an ability to see beauty and experience joy even in the most difficult of circumstances. And we can find it in the littlest of things like a beautiful view, a great song, or simply a funny situation. It is something which has helped me battle through in life whilst keeping my head held high and it has made me resilient. It got me to where I am today and I want to hold on to that as something good he did.
I had given myself to May this year to financially make it work and it was also the time frame I was offered the little apartment I am living in. Recently I have been asked to stay on for another year in my apartment and at the moment I have enough work through Joii to be able to pay my bills, which has been a huge relief. I am here to stay.
I am looking out of my bedroom window at the beautiful mountains in front me and my normally itchy feet feel tired but calm and my normally wired brain feels inspired but settled. I never thought I would say this but my gypsy lifestyle might have come to an end because I have finally found a place which is home to me.
"To be nobody but yourself in a world that is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else, means to fight the hardest battle any human being can fight. Never stop fighting" EE Cummings