Posts tagged ‘energy’

December 9, 2014

Doing it all

A question that I get asked on a regular basis is “how do you do all these things you do?” Mostly this question is followed by an outspoken or silent “I wish I could do that too!” To be honest, I cannot give you an easy step by step advice on how to live your life in the way you would love to. I cannot change your life into your picture perfect. If I am completely honest: There is no picture perfect life. The only thing I can do for you, is let you know how I manage to keep three “jobs” and do the things I love a lot.

In the end I am not going to tell you anything new. There have been many before me who have told you the same story. There are no new insights in this little piece of text. Having said that, when you are unhappy with the life you lead, stop reading and start changing! You are, always, the one that is in control. Finding excuses or reasons to accept your situation, to stay where you are and to prevent change is a choice as well. Sometimes you might not like the outcome or the side effects of choices you will want to make in order to get where you want to be, and you decide not to change. That is fine, but it is a choice nonetheless. Sometimes the road to change is long and you decide not to go on that journey. That is fine too, but it is still your choice!

So how do I manage my life? Simple: I do the things that I love to do, and sometimes I don’t and I do everything to change so I eliminate the things I do not like to do from my routine. Sometimes I suck it up and finish the job, but most of the time I find a better thing to do.

The second element of my life, is knowing what I like to do. And no, I do not know what I like to do or where I want to be in x years. All I know is what makes me feel happy and satisfied. I know what makes me feel miserable and useless. I also have a hint of who I want to become when I grow up. Just a hint, but it is enough to give me a direction to move towards.

The last element that is very useful for me is acceptance. There is a sentence that describes this part better than I could ever put it myself: “Change the things that you can, accept the things that you cannot change and be wise enough to know the difference.”

And yes, that really is all there is to it.

Where did I start?
A few years ago I read a blog on stating that all the time you waste watching television and playing video games could be spend on other things as well. At first I rejected the idea: I was not watching that much television and I did not play that many video-games, did I? Wrong. I did. And yes, there were other wasteful activities in my routine. Activities that did not help me feeling happier and more energized and were not getting me closer to my goals.

I started to log my activities in order to see how much time I was actually spending on things that do not motivate me, energize me or help me get closer to any of my goals. It helped me to make choices that contributed to getting closer to my dream life. For a generalist like me, there were plenty of activities to log and there were plenty that I really liked doing. Eliminating the things that do not contribute sometimes is difficult, but in the end all the choices I made added up to me getting closer to my goals. And still, I need to be critical. I need to evaluate the things I do now and then and just say to myself: “It is time to move on”, “it is time to make a choice”, or “it is time to say yes or no to an opportunity.” And still it hurts sometimes when I need to say no to something that I love doing too, but if I have learned one thing, is that focus on a few things is more than enough. Focus and planning.

And that is the last thing I want to say about it at this point. Planning is a very important factor. Though for most people it looks as if my life is a complete chaos, I actually have it pretty much structured for myself. Yes I do many different things, but no, I do not do all of them at the same time. I manage how much time I spend on activities. I manage how many different activities I have every week. I decide if I want to make concessions to my planning when something new comes up. I accept that all the choices I make have an effect on the available stash of energy and time.


I am curious about you! Are you a generalist too? How do you manage your activities? Do you do the things that you like? Let me know in the comments!

October 13, 2014


Preparing food is one of those things that tent to end up somewhere on the bottom of my list when I have little time. Of course I make sure I eat, and most of the time I eat pretty healthy in my own opinion. When I do have time, like last weekend, I always like it to spend some time in my kitchen to try new ideas. Mostly new ideas evolve around foods that I do not regularly have in my home but end up being here anyway. This time I had about 100 grams of hazelnuts waiting for me on my kitchen table and I figured those would make an awesome high energy but still healthy (and paleo) snack. It was a simple process and I really do like the outcome. Here is what I did:

What you need:

  • 100 grams hazelnuts
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon of honey
  • 1 tea-spoon cinnamon
  • 1 tea-spoon very dark grated chocolate
  • Mortar & pestle (or a kitchen machine if you go for bigger quantities)
  • Serving plate

What to do:

hazelnut1Start with stamping the hazelnuts into small pieces with the mortar and pestle. You will see some oily substance emerging in your mixture. I myself prefer pieces that are about half a millimeter to a millimeter big, but if they are bigger or smaller it will only change the substance. If you go for the kitchen machine, make sure not to grind the nuts to a paste.

hazelnut3Now, coconut oil is an oil that will reach solid stage quite fast under room temperature. Depending on where you are living, your coconut oil might be liquid or solid, either way, it is usable for this treat so don’t worry about it too much and definitely do not heat your oil before using it. It will change the structure of the oil and turn it into something less healthy.


hazelnut2Add the coconut oil and the honey and mix these together until a sticky mass starts to form. I myself used the pestle to mix it all and stamp the last big pieces at the same time. Add the cinnamon and the chocolate (you can use more or less if you like or dislike the taste of any of these two). Mix it all together so the taste is equally divided through the substance.

hazelnut4Use a tea-spoon to scoop out some of the substance and squeeze it into a ball in the palm of your hand. You will notice some of the oil being squeezed out of the ball when you squeeze harder. Put the little ball on a plate in such manner it won’t touch the others. Once you squeezed all the substance into little balls, cover the plate and put it in the refrigerator for about half an hour. The coconut oil, honey and chocolate will turn into a solid substance again and the balls are ready to be eaten.


Of course you can alter the spices to your likings. I can imagine they taste great as well with some piri piri, anise or cranberries. Let me know what your variation to these little balls of energy is!

1 of these balls consists of approximately 75-80 calories, don’t indulge on them too much ;).
(per piece approximately: fat: 6.9 grams, saturated fat:0.6 grams, carbohydrates: 10,2 grams, protein: 1.2 grams, fibers: 0.8 grams)

July 11, 2014

Short on money

A little while ago, I was short on money. I had broken up with my partner and moving to a new apartment, setting things up, while graduating and having little time completely drained the little reserves I had. Luckily I had my parents bailing in for me and a lot of friends and strangers helping me out with utilities everyone needs in a house (I hardly had anything). After sleeping on the floor for about a month I even got a bed from a colleague and I only had to survive 2 weeks without a stove. I can’t complain! But the money issues weren’t over. I had to pay the bills and they were piling up, because I simply could not pay them. I had to figure out a way to recover and to become independent.


Thank you Liza, it still is an awesome bed!

I want to share this story with you, because I know there might be one person reading this, who needs to know he or she is not the only one, and there is a way out, there will be better times. So here we go, this is how I regained my independence.

The dark months
The first thing I did was going over my expenses. I cut on all the costs I could. I hardly paid 15 Euros on my groceries a week, including everything: food, cat food, cloths, cleaning materials, everything! I cancelled all my subscriptions, which were few already. I tried to take my bike as much as possible, or walk. I stopped going out to places I needed to pay anything and could not bring my own bottle of water. You get the picture. There was not much left and still I was worrying about the next bill in my mail box. This was not the life I wanted to live. Time for change.

I figured I would give myself a year to balance things out. 1 year of extremely hard work. A second job, a third job, hardly any spare time. I knew I could work hard and so I did. I started to send mails to bars, asking if they had any work for me. I started to look for freelance jobs on the internet, anything that would pay. Eventually I did some incidental bar shifts, at cool bars I must add, and I found out that working as a mystery shopper was also compatible with my day job. On an average day I had time to sleep about 5 hours a night, the rest of the day was filled with working and commuting. It drained my energy. I was exhausted. I was quite happy though, because I was dealing with my sorrows in an active way. I still woke up more energized than I went to bed, I recharged every night, but there were few highlights.

Eventually all of this paid out. I did not complain. I did not share my exhausted moments on social media. I just worked hard and one day I looked at my bank account and there were no red numbers on my screen. All my bills were paid and my pay check was coming up. That was one of the most glorious moments I experienced that year: I was independent. I had solved my own problem!


Keep learning, keep moving, keep growing

What about now?
Fast forward to today: I have three jobs, I sleep over 7 hours (almost) every night. I have a lot of energy and every day has highlights and new memories to add to my memoires if I ever write those. I can buy the cloths that I need and I can eat enough to sustain a healthy body. I can go out and I do fun things with friends. But still three jobs. Why? Because I love it.

I am not a work-a-holic. I just have hobbies that fit a job description. In the months I ws solving my money issues, I did not take the time to think about if I liked what I was doing, I just did it. Now I have some more room to move and some more time, I re-discovered that work does not only helps you to pay the bills, but it helps you to grow as a person as well. One of the first things I did when I had saved enough money, was going back to school. I started a course to become a certified fitness instructor and I succeeded. I started my internship at a gym and by now I am a fitness instructor at that very same gym. I am still taking courses to become better and I love every hour I spend on sports and fitness.

I still run Cassette Culture, which is my baby. We are even expanding, looking for more chief editors and coordinators to make the entire magazine better and even more awesome. And then there is my day job. Sometimes I have those days, even weeks, that I don’t like going there, you know, work is low, no challenges, little contact with colleagues.. But most of the time I am having a great time over there too! Working towards deadlines, solving problems, thinking out processes and structures, teaching and learning, sharing thoughts and visions, honestly, I do not have the right to complain.

There is a trap
So, there is always a way out, no matter how hard the situation. You might not like the solutions always, but if you think smart and plan your way out, you can get there. But beware, if you start working your way out of your sorrows, this will have a long term effect as well. During the months I worked my butt off, I isolated myself, because I wanted to solve this by myself. People did not always notice what was going on and they thought that I had everything on track. I did not communicate publicly about my endeavours and I did not complain. There were a few close friends who knew what was going on and I did get support, but besides my closest friends and my parents, no one was really worried about it all.


Always care

These days I do so many things that I love doing, things that provide me with endless supplies of energy. Things. I want to share these things, these memories with everyone in the world, and I do. A lot of people think that my life is easy as a cool summer breeze and some people envy me for that, some even to negative extends. Others start worrying about me, feeling that I am doing too much, taking too little breaks. This sometimes brings me in difficult situations, but again, same as when I was walking my dark roads, I have nothing to complain about. Why? Because I am responsible for my own life, for the decisions I make, and I make decisions I am happy with. I work for the things I believe in and I try to share my energy with as many people as I can, because I wish everyone the same energy.

So, there you go. I hope sharing this story brings you something, in any way, something positive. If you have any questions or so, feel free to leave a comment below!

July 4, 2014

Doing too much?

The wonderful thing about people, is that when they like you, they usually are concerned when they feel you do something that is dangerous for you, your health or your future, and sometimes even if it is dangerous for the ones that surround you. Saying ‘be careful’, in whatever way, is just a synonym for ‘I care for you’, ‘I love you’, ‘I need you’, or ‘I wish you only the best’. The best way to respond to the warnings people give you, is to be grateful and say thank you. It is always a good idea to think about the warning, everyone has a blind spot when it comes to oneself. However, it is not uncommon to respond in a defensive way, because ‘you know what you’re doing’ and ‘you have responsibility for your own decisions.

Everything at once
One thing that I hear a lot, is that people either warn me for having too much on my plate, or that they are jealous about all the things I get done. I am one of those hyper active people who like everything, want to know more, want to learn and experience. Naturally I am a kick-starter. Need to get a head start on a new project: I am your girl. Want to fine-tune a new idea before you start prototyping: I will have a spare hour. Going on a new adventure? I’ll accompany you!

I combine all these new things with my already pretty awesome activities and somehow I manage, but I need my friends and colleagues to stay in balance. The warnings are not so much causing me to over-think my current activities; they do help me finishing something before I start something new. They do help me prioritize my activities and they keep me sharp when it comes to evaluating the actual energy I get from a new activity versus what I have to put into it.

The warnings of my friends and colleagues also helped me understand that though in my head everything is completely logical and balanced, it is sometimes hard for others to understand what I am doing and how I get away with it (/ how I avoid burning up). It also helped me understand that besides the worries, there is also something called copying behaviour. Sometimes people who surround me get the feeling they need to do more, because they see what I am doing. Now, of course it is completely irrelevant to compare your life to mine, but maybe there is something I can share with you, that will help you find your balance.

Cherry picking
First of all, find out what inspires you and what energizes you. No matter how big of a fan you can be of any given idol, you don’t have to become one if you hate performing the activity or the road towards the goal. Realize that you can be an astronaut, but if you hate mathematics and working-out, chances are you will hate every step on the way of becoming one. Is it worth your energy to walk that road just because of the goal?

There are so many things I like to do.

For me, what energizes me are a quite some things: Being outdoors, working out, music, nature, talking to people about why they do what they do, talking to people about what inspires them, coaching and helping people and philosophy, being challenged and variety. Besides that, writing, culture, painting, travelling, food, my cat, et cetera, et cetera…

Then, when you know what activities make you happy, there is an important decision to make. Everyone has to make this decision in their life when it comes to the activities we fill our days with: Are you the specialist-type or the generalist-type? You can either pick a few activities and become really good at them (specialist) or you can choose a lot of activities without being an in depth specialist (generalist).

Obviously I picked the latter.

When you know what is most important to you, and what type of person you are, it is time to start prioritizing. When you are a specialist and you only picked 1 thing that energizes you, you’re done. If you are a generalist and you picked 100 activities and topics, it is time to make a short-list. Either way, pick your cherries. Don’t settle for less than perfect.

After deciding what you want to do, it is time to start making a plan. What road will you take approximately? Why? Are there any personal milestones? What level of change is acceptable for you?

I myself choose a technique of periodizing my activities. I give myself a few options and a few long term goals. This helps me stay balanced. My priorities and periodization at this moment look as follows:

  1. For my mind: Work: challenging myself, human interaction (40 hours + 10 travel hours)
  2. For my body & mind: Sports OR music: At this moment sports activities (including education and internship) (20-25 hours)
  3. For my mind: Writing (about culture and music mostly) (4-8 hours a week.)
  4. For recovery: Rest (sleeping) (49 – 56 hours)

That is a total of 139 hours a week. That leaves me with 29 hours a week to eat, do groceries, see friends, solve problems, and other activities out of my list that I do not plan. If one activity temporarily gives me less energy, I focus on the other activity, if one activity demands more attention or time, I either re-divide my hours or use some of the 29 free-wheel hours. Another thing that helps me, is that I in general have very high energy levels, so I have an extra option for activities and daily challenges.

On the long run some of my goals are to get master degrees, get a travelling job and play a zombie in a movie (check my bucket list here).

Rest is what makes you grow, mentally and physically

Rest is what makes you grow, mentally and physically

You are the manager
Now, as soon as you’ve made a plan, the thing to stay balanced, and to stay happy, is by either sticking to it or evaluating it. If your plan doesn’t give you the energy you need to be happy: change it. If you love your plan, make sure you keep evaluating it as well, because what happens when you finish your education or you mastered a skill? Will you need a new activity or will you be happy with just one activity less. Also make sure there is some room for improvising in your plan. As you can see in my example, I have almost 30 hours a week that are unplanned. This means that one day I will skip doing the dishes, while another day I spend a few extra hours on my job or cleaning the windows.

Basically you have yourself a little process / project planning to do the things that you love and to get those things done. Your friends and colleagues, who are warning you, can be seen as the risk managers, the people you inspire by your actions (including yourself) are the customers and you are the project manager. Remember, when the stakeholders are happy, you are on the right track, whatever that track and the goal might be.