The Motherless Daughters Club: And now I’ll always carry her with me

Ever since Mama passed away I’ve been looking for some way to keep her with me, besides just carrying her memories in my heart. Sometimes the memories aren’t enough to keep me going and I feel as if I need something more physical, something I can hold, wear or carry with me. The past 4 years I’ve just been looking around for mourning jewellery, but I couldn’t find anything that made me want to even consider using her hair or ashes for. My taste is a bit specific and I couldn’t quite figure it out.

You can do the craziest things with remains nowadays, from planting them into a tree, to turning ashes into diamonds!! Not only did I find it hard to find something I found beautiful according to my own taste, but also something that would suit her. I feel as if a lot of jewellery nowadays has lost the charm it once had. I can’t even remember the last time I spent money on jewellery to be honest! Anyways, I toyed with the idea of getting her ashes turned into a diamond for a while, but being a student, I simply don’t have the budget for it unfortunately.

But as time goes on, I felt as if I needed something like it, maybe I’ve just reached that stage of grieving where you just want something to cling onto. I can’t even remember how many times I’ve held and sniffed a shirt of hers, just because it still smells of her. I decided to go on the internet for some inspiration and quickly found the cheaper option of mourning jewellery. That option being lockets.

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It is probably the biggest and heaviest pendant I have ever had but it is just so beautiful

I’ve been crazy about lockets since I was little. I remember by sister and I giving Mama a silver locket with our pictures in it for Mother’s Day. I had one myself as well, with a picture of my childhood best friend in it. The idea of a pendant in which you can carry something I find amazing. But it would have to be something fitting.

I went on Etsy, as I often do, since Etsy is THE place to find interesting pieces, from garments to jewellery. I scoured through pages and pages of antique Victorian jewellery, so many lovely pieces, but I just couldn’t find it. Until one evening, while video chatting with my love and looking through Etsy once again, I stumbled upon this big, pinchbeck locket with floral patterns engraved into it. Despite its size, it had such an intricate feel to it. I don’t know what it was, but I was instantly drawn to it. However, at the time I couldn’t afford it, so I did put it on my wishlist, but wasn’t expecting to be able to get it. Such a beautiful Victorian piece wouldn’t be for sale long, would it?

Well, two weeks ago I decided to go check anyways and would you guess it? It was still up! After a bit of hesitation I decided to splurge and today it came into the mail! I opened my package and when I first laid my eyes upon it, it just felt right. It’s weird to describe, I was just overwhelmed with emotions. I found an old passport picture of her in my wallet, which I have put in now, but I know she would hate it. So I’ll keep it in there until I have found a better one. I’ll be flying to the Netherlands on Wednesday, so maybe my grandparents will have a better one lying around.

 


It was important to me that it was a piece of jewellery that I would love, but also something that would suit my mother. I’d say that I succeeded. My mother and I both love nature and feel a close connection to it. The engraving was something I instantly gravitated towards.

I bought the locket at this lovely shop called ”Vintage at Mums” on Etsy. The woman who runs it, Tracy, has an amazing collection of stunning antique pieces, which are definitely worth checking out! I know I’ll be wearing my locket with pride and even though I’ve only had it so shortly, it is already my favourite piece.

Do any of you out there have mourning jewellery, and if you do, what made you pick the pieces that you have?

I’d love to hear your stories!

– Naiyee

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My North Star

Last week my love and I had our one year anniversary and what a year it has been. He came into my life at the most unexpected time, but I couldn’t be happier that he did. Unfortunately we are not together right now, but in two weeks we will be, since we will be visiting my family in the Netherlands for Easter!

He and I had been friends for years and he decided to come over to Denmark from Finland to meet up in real life. I was still in a relationship at the time, but the chemistry was there from the start. We hit it off right away and had a blast. Shortly after he left, my then-boyfriend broke up with me and we decided to give it a go.

”We’ll take it slow” we said, but very soon after having said that we were sure that we were right for each other. We pretty soon talked about the more serious topics, marriage, kids, careers and all of that. Weirdly enough we agreed on everything. I felt funny about it at first. I don’t know how to describe the feeling, but talking to him calmed the constant chaos inside of me. I have always struggled with feeling grounded and in a way I still do. But just a simple phone call or a text of him reassuring me it’ll all work out seems to make all of the problems I have so insignificant as long as he was there.

I promised myself I wouldn’t put myself through the hassle of a long distance relationship again, but the heart wants what it wants. I booked a plane ticket to Finland to see him and meet his family and we grew even closer. Not just us, but I also instantly connected to his family. It all felt so natural. I found myself often wondering if it all wasn’t just too good to be true, but I guess this is just what it feels like to have hit the jackpot.

I don’t have a penny to my name, a small family far away, just the clothes on my back, a handful of friends and my precious pooch, but I can’t recall the last time I felt this happy. I’m thoroughly convinced it’s because I have found him and reconnected with my own family too. I feel as if I’m a tiny little boat in this big ocean, but as long as I’ve got my north star, I’ll eventually find my way back home.

Like Gordon B. Hinckley once said

”Love is like the North Star,
In a changing world, it’s always constant”

My love always tells me that everything will work out and I used to struggle to believe that. Because how can everything work out? Does it truly do that? But he has taught me that sometimes, it is okay to let go of the things I cannot control. And that is a scary, but comforting thought.

It feels like meeting him and his family too, has given my heart the capability to give love back a thousandfold. And for that I am grateful. Not just for them being in my life, but he as also taught me to appreciate my own family a whole lot more.

He is my north star and I feel grateful to have found him when I did. It has only been a year, but I can’t wait to see what the future holds.

Have any of you out there found your north star? I would love to hear your stories.

– Naiyee

Here’s to strong women

I grew up being raised by a single mom. My mom had been chronically ill for as long as I can remember and she managed to raise my sister and I all alone. My parents divorced when I was about six years old and it’s all I have ever known. My mom never spoke much about it, except that it happened after my father admitted to having a family with another woman. That woman ended up becoming my stepmother and yet another example of a strong woman in my life. My stepmom has two kids with my dad, my half sister and half brother. My half brother has special needs and it has always baffled me how well my stepmom dealt with all of it by herself. My dad wasn’t around much, so it was always the mother figures in my life picking up the pieces when something broke.

With that being said, I also grew up without much of a father figure in my life. My father first became an active part of my life after my mother passed away, but during my childhood it was always my Opa who showed me what a good father is like. For the longest time, and maybe still, I thought that good father figures were a rare thing to have. Many of my childhood friends had divorced parents with the dads often being absent or a passive part of their lives, only coming and going as it fit their schedule.

But thanks to my Opa and my mother figures I did not miss out on anything. When my mother passed away, someone else crossed my path. The woman I now consider to be my bonus mom and probably the strongest woman I have ever had the privilege of knowing. She is a breast cancer survivor and kept her family afloat when everything seemed to be falling apart. Not only that, but I believe she saved my family from falling apart too. She has had her heart broken many times, but like a phoenix, she rose up from the ashes, stronger than before. A woman I look up to, that’s for sure.

But as time went on, this little girl I’ve known since the moment she grew in my mother’s womb, my best little friend, my partner in crime, my younger sister now too grew into a woman with the heart of a warrior. Despite all the odds stacked up against her, she fought, pulled through and survived. I couldn’t be prouder to be her sister. I love her so much. But it’s not just her, but obviously also my half-sister. She also has had her fair share of hardships to deal with at a very young age and it has made her into a fierce, strong and amazing young woman. I love seeing how well she does, and it saddens me that I don’t get to see her as often as we used to.

I could never forget to write about my grandmother, my Oma here, even though I had not mentioned her earlier. While growing up I saw my mother and Oma fight a lot and I was never really able to understand why. But now that I am older, I do. Oma has a heart of gold and wears it on her sleeve. She is one of the most honest people I have ever known and I try to adopt her honesty, albeit it maybe with a little bit more filter.. 😉

Last year two special women in particular came into my life. My mother and sister in law, both extraordinary women. They’ve both fought their battles and stayed SO kind and strong despite all of it. And I admire and adore them for it. In a world so cruel kinder people are needed. I truly believe that it’s people like them, that make this world a better place to live in. I’d like to be kinder, just like they are.

It’s the influence of these lovely ladies (and those are just a few, I have so many amazing girlfriends as well but it would make this post even loooonger!), that I’m still here today. I couldn’t have gotten this far without their love and support.

Here’s to strong women, may we know them, may we be them, may we raise them!

Do you have strong women in your life?
I’d love to hear more about them!

-Naiyee

Future goals and dreams (and why they frighten me)

As much as I try to live in the now, I still often find myself drifting off, dreaming about the goals I’ve set for the future, some far into the future, others pretty near. I’ve always been pretty driven by nature, but at this point I have noticed myself getting tired. Be it study fatigue or something else, ya girl needs some hibernation STAT! Not happening anytime soon though, exams are coming up and I am BUSY.

I have dreamed of becoming a veterinarian since I was 7, after having assisted with my cat giving birth. It had a huge impact on me and I’ve never looked back. Working with animals and figuring out how they work, both inside and out, kept me busy. I read encyclopedias and other animal related books and really tried my best at school. I was a pretty bright kid. I had an easy time learning and didn’t have much of an issue getting decent grades.

The Dutch school system is a tad bit complicated. We have to do a placement test at the elementary school and from there, it’s kind of mapped out which direction you go into. We put people into boxes from an early age and even though there is an opportunity to climb up, most people don’t and neither did I.

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Allow me to explain this with this little chart above. I remember going into this placement test hoping I’d get placed into VWO. VWO is the education that grants access to uni, which is needed to study vet med. I however, got placed into HAVO. Not bad either. So I went in there, hoping I could climb my way up. My first year went terrible. I was insecure and I faced some issues with bullying, so I dropped to VMBO instead. I completed that, demotivated without any real challenges and afterwards applied to veterinary technician school. At this point I had completely given up on my vet dream and decided to be a tech instead. But as I did this education I realised that this industry is what I’m passionate about and despite loving the vet tech work I knew that I wanted more out of it. After graduation I moved to Denmark and now I’m here, currently studying to get my GED and hopefully being able to still pursue this childhood dream. I knew it wasn’t easy, anything but easy actually, but me being my stubborn self at least wanted to try.

But as I’m getting closer to turning this thing into reality, I realised that I’m getting scared. My exams are getting closer and I start doubting myself as I always do when that dreaded time of the year pops up. I don’t know if I can even get my GED. Will I be able to even get into uni if I do? What if I don’t even make it through the first year of getting my GED?

I’m the kind of person to have back up plan B, C, D, E and F ready just in case plan A doesn’t work out. This time is no different. Although I can’t really use my vet tech degree here in Denmark to get into other educations, I can in the Netherlands. So the past months I’ve been looking at universities of applied sciences and see what they got to offer. I then stumbled upon Biology and Lab Research, which sounded exciting to me albeit not animal related. I have always enjoyed lab work and I’d love to solve things and figure things out. But there’s a catch there. You see, in the Netherlands I’d rack up debt, which isn’t exactly something I’m excited about doing. I would hate to freshly get out of school and be neck deep in. So in a way it almost seems as if I am a little stuck.

I know I first get my GED in 2020 and that I shouldn’t worry, but I do. I’m scared I can’t make it through. Not getting into vet school isn’t the end of the world, but if I don’t get my GED, what then? It’d be my gateway to so many opportunities. What if I can’t even do that?

Let’s just say, that my first goal is to CALM DOWN, pass these exams this semester, and the next 3 semesters as well. Then I’d have my GED.
Second goal: Getting into vet med OR animal science
Third goal: ?? I have no clue!

As I’m getting older I’m realising that making plans that far ahead is pointless. In the end you can’t control how life goes and for me it only seems anxiety inducing. So let’s just keep it at those two goals first. I just hope I can keep myself together long enough to even be able to do that. It’ll just be a buttload of really hard work!

I guess only time will tell!

Do you guys have any future goals and dreams? Do they scare you?

I’d love to hear about them!

– Naiyee

How yoga saved my life

Lately I haven’t been feeling very grounded. With school, exams coming up, trying to keep a social life and visiting family I have been nothing but busy. All of those long days and days away from home I have really not been able to practise yoga the way I want to. Not just in the physical sense, but also mentally. For the past three years I’ve been keeping my practise (somewhat) consistent, but this year has been really difficult!

I started my practise back in 2015, only a couple of months after my mother passed away. I felt very lost and as if my life had lost all of its meaning, so I decided to look for something to do.. I had been flirting with the idea of yoga years prior, but had never seriously considered it. I only saw the physical aspect of it, but never the mental aspects. The thought that I wasn’t flexible enough or skinny enough went through my mind a lot. But the more I thought about it, the more the idea of Yoga pulled me in. So I bought a cheap yoga mat and started following along with video’s on YouTube. At first it was only 15 minutes a day, but I could immediately sense how calm it made me feel.

During that period of my life my mind was racing. Thoughts about how much I missed my mother and my family back home, but also thoughts that were much, much darker. I felt the need to be in control of my life, since I couldn’t be in control of my mother’s fate.  I was yearning to find some peace in my life. Starting with yoga was scary to me. I was very insecure, having been overweight and bad with any type of ”exercise”, so this was a challenge. But I decided to face it head on and so I did. Soon I found myself on my mat ever. single. day. My practise started on my mat, but soon expanded itself into everything I do. I focus on how I breathe, how I speak to other people and take time to meditate a little, even if it is just for a minute or two. But it also made my relationships with other people better. I feel as if I have a deeper understanding of why people do what they do or say the things they say.. Before I used to be very quick to judge, not really paying people any time of the day and just living on the fast lane.

Yoga has taught me in times of stress to take a step back, reflect and ask myself: ”What is this teaching me?”. If something doesn’t serve me, I let it go. If I can’t control something, I let it happen. It has also taught me a lot about my own body too. Asana is one of the 8 limbs of yoga and asana means posture. It is what you see people do on their mats. Asana humbled me beyond belief. I used to see a pose and think: ”Wow!! I want to do it too, I’m totally ready for that!” even though I wasn’t. In the beginning that made a dent in my ego. Not being able to do a handstand or a middle split within 3 months bugged the living daylights out of me and even made me want to stop at times, but as my practise progressed, I realised that it really doesn’t matter. Sure, it is a fun goal to have, but that’s the thing. You should enjoy the journey towards those goals instead of only focus on the destination.

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This pose in particular I started practising about 2 years ago and I still struggle with it! Such a humbling experience every time I try it.

That lesson I could also apply to my real life. You see, after my mom died, I was waiting to die myself as well. I didn’t see any point in living anymore if she wasn’t there to see me do the crazy stuff I do today. I then realised that I am going to be around for a long time still, if I’m lucky. So why would I wait for that final destination, the day I die, while beating myself up about so much stuff that is not my hands? That final destination will happen, whether I like it or not, so I might as well enjoy the time I still have left. And that is how yoga saved me. It saved me from a life filled with emptyness and misery.

I might not have time or energy to practise asana every day, but you better believe I try to practise the other 7 limbs from the moment I wake up until the moment I hit the hay. And that’s the beauty of it. You are completely in charge of the way you want to practise as long as you are not forcing it.

Have you ever tried yoga?

-Naiyee

Your home should tell the story of who you are and be a collection of what you love.

Sorry I didn’t write on here sooner, but it has been a busy couple of days I guess! With a math midterm and reading up on some of the things I’ve missed while I was away to see my family and trying to get enough sleep in, it was hard for me to find a moment to just sit down and write. Today was nice and quiet, so here I am!

On Monday I came back from a lovely couple of days in the Netherlands that I’ve spent with my family and love. In a previous post I wrote about how hard it is for me to go back and how the days leading up to it always end up being incredibly anxiety inducing for me. However, whenever I’m there, it feels like coming home, truly. We spent most of the time at my sister’s, as she lives close to Schiphol Airport and the rest of Amsterdam and since my boyfriend has never been in the Netherlands before, I thought it’d be a great opportunity to be a tourist in my own country and show him around a bit. We had a blast. Amsterdam really is a special place.

We also celebrated my grandparents’ 50th wedding anniversary, which took place in my hometown, so we decided to also spend a night at their place, so I could show him where I’m from and where I grew up. This idea in particular scared me at first, as I’ve only gone back there two or three times ever since my mother passed away. But I felt like it was the right thing to do. I showed him the houses I grew up in, the schools I went to, my poem that ended up winning a competition and actually ended up being put down in tiles on this big square in my neighbourhood and lots of other things. It was quite something.

It was special to me, because to me it felt as if I was walking through a photo book as I was reminiscing all of these memories. But it also made me think.. I realised that for the most part of my adult life, I’ve been running away from my old life back in the Netherlands, just trying to get ahead and create something new. Ever since I’ve moved to Denmark, I’ve been doing something. Be it learning the language, getting to know new people, getting a job or studying, I have always made sure to do something, so I wouldn’t have to doubt anything or be sad about the life I no longer have.. This trip however made me feel weird inside. I felt homesick, truly homesick for the first time in well… ever? It was just eyeopening how the conversations I had with my grandparents, father, sister and other family members made me feel less empty in a way. I wouldn’t say I’m this super unhappy person in general, but my struggle with depression makes me feel very empty inside. But whenever I’m with them, the feeling disappears. I know the grass isn’t always greener on the other side, it never is actually, but it does make me wonder whether I’d be happier over there or not.

For shits and giggles I actually decided to sign up for a bachelors degree in Biology and Medical Research over there and see if I get in. I want to give myself a year to figure out if I’ll feel better and if my situation will change, but if not, I might just go back home. That would also mean that I’d have to give up my dream of getting into vet school and I’m not quite sure if I’m ready for that yet, so we will see. The idea of researching a cure for cancer, especially since my mom died from it and I know a lot of people who have been sick from it, sounds like a very exciting thing to do. But at this point it’s still all out in the open. I guess that’s the fun thing about life, the uncertainty of it all.

I just find it funny how this trip opened up a whole new can of worms for me. I didn’t expect to end up not feeling like going back to Denmark, but luckily for me I have a lot of kind people over here as well. In the end, home isn’t really a place for me. It’s the people that fill up that space. It could be at the other side of the world, but as long as they’ll be there, I would be okay. It would be home.

Where do you guys feel at home?

I would love to hear about it!

– Naiyee

Hearts are wild creatures, that’s why our ribs are cages..

So this week I’m up to something pretty big! I’ll be going back to the Netherlands for the first time in over a year to celebrate my grandparents’ 50th wedding anniversary. It always ends up being pretty awesome whenever I’m down there to visit family, but the time leading up to those trips are always pretty stressful for me.

For those of you that don’t know me that well, my mother passed away only a couple of months after I moved to Denmark in 2014 and basically right after I moved here, I had to go back to be there with her. The weeks leading up to it was grueling, because she was very sick, and I knew that nothing would be the same way as I left it. But then she passed away and suddenly it felt as if my home was taken away from me. Even though I still have all of my family and friends over there, it feels as if I no longer belong. Part of me is probably also just nervous about receiving bad news again, the same way as it did back in 2014. Now I know that that is absolutely irrational and I have nothing to worry about, but still. Going back is hard for me, because it’s a constant reminder of the life I once had. A life I once took for granted. My friends moved away, our dogs have been adopted, my entire family lives in different parts spread out over the country and well.. the house I grew up in is no longer ours.

I remember walking around my hometown last year with my Opa and my sister and even though everything looked the same, the feeling was gone. It was like a familiar painting, but without the warm colours..

Whenever I do go down there to see everyone, it feels like a warm bath. It’s lovely to be surrounded by my family and friends and sometimes I really do wonder if moving abroad was the right decision, but then I look at how much I have grown and the little life I’ve established here and it made me realise that I did something right. But there are moments where I really hate being so far away from everyone I love. It makes me wish that sometimes I wasn’t so adventurous and found contentment in a simpler life, closer to the ones I love. But then I think about a quote my mom once sent me:

”Hearts are wild creatures, that’s why our ribs are cages”.

I see where she was getting at.. I used to ALWAYS follow my head and play it safe, but it also made me very unhappy. The one moment I decided to follow my heart was the decision to move countries, something lots of people in my direct circle never expected of someone like me. But I still try to protect my heart from things that may hurt it, so I keep it tucked deep within me, within my ribs. Isolating myself is a bad coping mechanism I’ve created over the years and I am not very proud of it, but it has always worked. Now that I live so far away from my loved ones it’s even easier, although I try not to. Staying away from the place that confronts me; my own bloody home, is easy, but it’s not a solution. It’s bittersweet really, because this longing for being with my family comes with this fear, this sense of anxiety of returning to my home, because of the events that have occurred there 4 years ago, not even to mention that this month marks the fourth year since my mother has passed.

So in a way, this upcoming trip has given me a lot of sleepless nights too. I procrastinated booking my flight and letting my family know if I’d be there, because of this tug-of-war in my head. However, I knew I couldn’t stay away. This is a milestone in my grandparents’ lives and they had already considered holding it off, since my mother couldn’t be there too. And I can relate to this feeling, because I’ve been there too. I didn’t want to marry or have kids if she wouldn’t be there to experience it, but in the end, life doesn’t stop because her life ended. So I’m proud of my grandparents for deciding that they’d celebrate anyway. I couldn’t say no when they asked me if I’d come too, knowing that they’d already have one empty chair at that table. I didn’t want them to have to look at yet another empty chair at that dining table. And I’m happy that I get to see them again. Spending time with them is fun. They’re amazing people and I am so grateful to still have them.

Life is strange. It’s incredible how much impact the loss of ONE person can have on so many lives. My mother’s death may have caused us to be far apart from one another, but our bond is closer than ever. I only get to spend 4 days in the Netherlands, not very long, but my loss also taught me to cherish those moments, as big or as little as they may seem.

As my favourite Disney character once said:

”This is my family. It’s little and broken, but still good.
Yeah, still good”

To all of you reading this,

Hug your loved ones a little tighter today. You never for how much longer you’ll have them..

– Naiyee