Monday Notes: 4 Weeks in the Netherlands

On Friday, May the 13th, Dwight and I ventured off to breakfast. I checked my workout pants pocket: phone, ID, no debit card. 

“I left my card at home,” I said.

But when I returned home, my debit card wasn’t inside the deep pocket of my travel backpack where I’ve kept it since we’d left the States. I’d lost it. 

I checked my bank account: 

$-52.67 (Spar City Witte)

$-52.67 (Spar City Witte)

$-39.60 (Spar City Witte)

Someone found my card and had repeatedly used it at a corner store (where I probably dropped it). It had only been an hour. 

This incident describes part of how I’d felt while vacationing in the Netherlands for four weeks. 

It was an explicit balance of stress and relaxation. 

The stress began week one when I found out there was no clothes dryer. I would have to hang clothes on a five-foot clothes rack. This may not sound stressful to you, but for someone like me, who successfully washes, dries, folds, and puts clothes away every Sunday, this immediately interrupted my carefully organized routine that I maintain to avoid stress. By week two, I realized it would take three days to use a small European washer and several clothes hangers to achieve what I usually did in one day. 

Stress compounded week two when we didn’t grocery shop for the week. No groceries meant no food, and no food meant buying food at restaurants for breakfast, lunch, and dinner or multiple runs to the grocery store. Consequently, because Dwight worked from one to ten at night, if I wanted groceries, I’d have to do it alone. Shopping by myself wasn’t an issue; fitting this into my existing schedule was.

These new stressors occurred in between finishing Spring semester, starting Summer semester, agreeing to be on a work committee, and taking on an editing client—all manageable tasks when I’m completing household tasks under normal structured circumstances.

But these weren’t normal or structured circumstances.

I needed to rely on strategies so the stress wouldn’t build up in my body and turn into uncontrollable anxiety. I immediately scheduled a virtual yoga class with a studio in Jacksonville. Unlike being in Costa Rica, where the serenity of the mountains calmed me, in Rotterdam, I needed an organized practice once a week. 

Because I’d been working hard on balancing my microbiome in relation to my digestion system, I noticed when I was eating too much sugar or too little fiber. Unlike in Panamá, I didn’t have to wait until my belly was bloated to know when I’d gone too far. Instead, I began no-weight workouts with an exercise app; I had to meditate to stay calm; I had to journal. I had to work hard to be balanced in this new environment.

Without these practices already in place, it would have been easy to spiral when I lost my debit card, and I almost did. I was angry at myself for being careless in another country. But you know what? I first settled something in my mind, and then, out loud:

“I am not about to let this f**k up my day!” I said to Dwight but more so to myself. “I’m going to get my nails done.” 

Did I choke back tears when the bank representative asked me where I was located and then the country and then my zip code—twice? Yep. Did I wallow? Nope. 

Instead of spiraling into an abyss of anger after playing twenty-one questions with customer service, I thought rationally. I am not without. I have another bank account to transfer and use money. I am not lacking because of a mistake, and I’m not some sort of dolt because I made an error. 

The reality is in between dealing with the stress of unexpected events, I’ve done the following:

  • eaten authentic Belgian waffles in Brussels, the way Belgians intended, 
  • tried premier chocolate from a chocolatier in Brussels,
  • visited Gieethorn, a wealthy town built around a canal, 
  • watched sex workers solicit clients in Amsterdam, 
  • drank shots at the nine degree below Ice Bar
  • viewed Jesus’s (alleged) blood captured in a capsule, 
  • toured the city where In Bruges was filmed, 
  • eaten at a myriad of outdoor cafes, 
  • photographed tulips on the last day of tulip season, and
  • walked an average of six miles per day. 

It’s super easy to get caught up in one or two bad events, right? But we can’t let a few negative encounters dictate our entire experience. Overall, I’ve enjoyed living in the Netherlands. Sure, there were unexpected cultural shifts for living our lives; however, there were more “good” days than “bad” days. Was washing clothes half the week a pain? YEP! Was eating an authentic Belgian waffle worth it? ABSOLUTELY!

I’ll check back in once we leave our next destination: Croatia. Until then, I hope you enjoy these photos.

56 thoughts on “Monday Notes: 4 Weeks in the Netherlands

  1. Your post reminds me of the time years ago that I got dumped when I was visiting my long-distance sort-of-boyfriend-but-not-exactly (don’t ask) who lived in Hawaii at the time. It sucked, but between meeting some nice cab drivers and doing some other guided tours, I was like, well, I’m in Hawaii and might as well enjoy it.

    Are you still traveling??

    Liked by 3 people

  2. This is a great post. Losing your debit card can be stressful, I imagine more so when you are in a foreign country. I have to remind myself not to let experiences like that snowball.
    Your experiences in the Netherlands sound amazing!

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I found your blog via LA (Wrong Side of 50). I’m intrigued by your traveling lifestyle and will definitely be reading more of your posts.

    I can honestly say that losing the debit card after the other misadventures would have sent me over the edge.

    Until next time.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks, Barb! I don’t always talk about traveling, and we’ll be home in a couple weeks, so I hope you’ll stick around for the not-so-travel stuff, too 😉

      Oh! I’m thinking about sharing about the mini meltdown I had when we got to Croatia, but I haven’t decided yet lol That’s to say that there was more after the debit card, but all is well now.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I was lucky enough to spend a day in Amsterdam in 2019, and I’d love to go back to the Netherlands again. (But I’m going to take “drip dry clothes” based on what you’ve shared regarding dryers.) I’m so sorry about your debit card, but glad that you had your stress reduction regime in place in order to cope with it…. especially since dealing with customer service after something like that can be even more stressful than realizing your card has been stolen and used by someone else. I look forward to reading more about your trip!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. The clothes drying situation was THE WORST, and at first, I wasn’t going to share about it, because I thought I was being absurd (or American). Then, I decided my angst was valid.

      Customer service at my bank is also THE WORST! Do you know she also asked me if I had called the number on the back of the card lol

      Sorry to go through another mini vent, but thank you for this comment!

      The Netherlands is really cool, as long as you find a laundromat lol

      Liked by 1 person

  5. First…great post…second- omg I just wrote a mini post about how we get through adversity….we keep doing this thinking the same thing thing! You really are my spirit sister

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Wow, Katherin, I felt stressed out reading about your ordeals. Thank God for good food! It always soothes the soul and lends comfort.
    I really appreciate how you’ve shared your experiences. It’s inspiring to know that you somehow managed to overcome your stress!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you for the empathy, Judy ❤ (and the compliment). Food always does a body good, right? It was definitely an uphill battle, but I knew I had to get a handle on it; otherwise, things would decline all the way around.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Well glad you’re doing well . Losing your card sounds pretty scary . I would be worried too . But the Belgian Waffles look amazing and so does the cool architecture. Was that a cathedral in one of the pics?

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks, Krystal ❤ It definitely was, especially when I realized the person had used it so quickly. Luckily, the bank has some type of fraud protection, so they stopped it when they saw how many purchases there were in such a short time.


      Yep about the cathedral. It was in a movie called In Bruges (which is where it is…in Bruges, Belgium). I know how much you like castles and cathedrals, so I hope one day you'll be able to see a few 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  8. You’re such a self-regulating goddess! Those things would’ve completely compromised my peace as well. But you’re handling it and moving through it. I love hearing about these adventures. So real and beautiful! Thank you for sharing 💖

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Ha! Trust me. I understand. I’m thinking about talking about dysregulation, which is something I’ve been experiencing my who life but didn’t realize until this trip.

      Anywho, thank you for the compliment, Libby! I strive to always be as authentic as possible, especially nowadays where it’s so easy to only share the positive 😉

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Rob! It’s hard to focus on the positive, even when you’re having a good time, but you’re right. Once I looked at the totality, I was like this is pretty dope, actually.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Whoo! I love that you immediately recognized what you needed to do to cope and implemented it. That is definitely something I need to work on. I tend to go for those unhealthy coping strategies…like salt and sugar….

    Liked by 4 people

    1. It’s sooo important, Laura! I think this kind of goes with what we’re talking about on your blog. The sooner you can feel what’s off and let it go, the least likely you’ll be to have that energy hanging around.

      Full disclosure, I did an unhealthy coping mechanism that day called…shopping :-/ lol

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I definitely see the parallels! It’s funny how the universe provides that synchronicity. The funny thing (maybe not so funny) about my current pain issue, is that it is greatly decreased when I’m at home. As soon as I walk through those double doors, I feel my lower back start to stiffen and the pain in my hip increases. It doesn’t take rocket science to figure that one out.

        I’ve engaged in that particular coping strategy a time or too myself….

        Liked by 3 people

    1. The Ice Bar was AMAZING! My husband didn’t think so lol He was like soooo we’re just going to drink in an ice cave? Yes. Yes, that’s exactly what we’re gonna do lol It was great.

      Liked by 2 people

  10. Wow – what a lesson! We are not defined by our mistakes so why would we let them ruin our day/week/trip? What a great story of resilience and of the beautiful things you’ve been able to experience because you’ve adventured out. Love it, Kathy! Sending my best wishes to you and Dwight that you enjoy the rest of your time abroad!

    Liked by 6 people

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