Last year I decided to apply for a job abroad in the tourism industry after finally giving up on my PhD project. 2018 had been a turbulent year working on a project that did not work out. I became sick mentally and physically. In December 2018 I quit my job in Belgium (and project work in Cuba) after a long and painful period of trying to make it work. I felt completely blocked. Instead, I took the time to find my inner peace again.
I gave myself some time and wanted to do something fun without so much work pressure. And so, I signed up for a job at Thomas Cook (a tour operator in Europe) only to start in March. Why I did not start directly and waited until then? March is the beginning of the Summer Season and it allowed me to take some time off for myself. I am not a big fan of jumping fast from one project to another (although it might look sometimes like that with my busy lifestyle).
Sometimes it is important to take time to do nothing and reflect.
Frida Kahlo is one of the most celebrated artists in the world nowadays. She is literally everywhere: in musea, iPhone covers, restaurants, bags, decorations and yes, even in underwear. Like many of her fans, I admire Frida Kahlo, but – to be honest – I sometimes feel like I am one of the happy few who really knows who she is.
Almost everyone admires the looks and appearance of Frida Kahlo, as well as her paintings and her ideology, but who is she really and why did she become so popular? Let me figure it out for you.
Keep on reading if you want to know more about…
Frida Kahlo and the dramatic story of her life
the popularity of Frida Kahlo today in fashion, food and fun
Did you ever get to a point in life where you feel like you quit doing what you love to do because something or someone made you believe that it is time to grow up, time to build a life, a career and a family? Well, welcome to my life… and welcome to the expectations and struggles of Western society.
How it all started to go down…
A few years ago I started my Masters’ program in Anthropology at a University in Belgium and for the next 3 years all I did was going to classes, writing papers, studying for exams, traveling for research, working to pay my bills while studying and thinking about how I could possibly become the best version of ‘my anthropologist self’.
Society made me believe that it was time for me to move on, to get over with the fun things in life, to start thinking about the future and to do something with my skills and experiences. I decided I wanted to start a PhD program and I focused really hard on getting accepted into a new university to continue doing what I thought I loved (and was born for) to do.
I was focusing on my career!
“For a long time I made myself believe that if I lived the life I was supposed to be living – according to my parents and societal norms – I would just become happy like everyone else. Instead, I started to realize many people are not happy with their 9-to-5 life and I would rather die than to become one of those settled couples who work to pay bills and go on a one-week holiday once a year.”
Once I started my PhD career, I did no longer have time for things that were not beneficial somehow to my ‘bigger plan’ (as in things that did not bring me closer to a career). Blogging about my travel experiences was obviously out of the question and seemed suddenly something from a far away past in which I wasted time doing silly things. Deep inside my soul was crying because I hated not being able to be myself.
Instead I wrote academic papers, I got involved in volunteer work and I wrote for other companies and universities, either because I got paid for it or because I got published somewhere. Initially I found it satisfying (or should I say that my ego was pleased) but soon I learnt that I was becoming involved in a life-long battle to become (and remain) an expert in my field if I wanted to continue this career.
I did not work myself up, but out.
Over time I also started to feel very unsatisfied with myself because I learnt that I did not write what I wanted to write and my creativity was often blocked by editorial instructions, my employers’ requirements, and so on. Slowly but steadily I started to go down… One morning I woke up and my whole body and mind decided that I could not do it anymore.
I fought against my writers’ block for months. My doctor said I was experiencing a ‘burn out‘. Me? How was that even possible? I will save you the details about the worst months of my life after this, but I will tell you that if I knew back then what I know now, I would have quit my job (and not my life) right there right then (and not the other way around).
How it started to get better again…
The moment that I accepted that I became deeply unhappy because I was not living the life I was born for, the destiny I was destined for… that I was not working for the boss I was supposed to work for, that I was not loving the love I was supposed to love, and so on… I felt so relieved. I felt set free.
The hardest thing for me to learn over this hard period of time was to trust in nothing and to embrace emptiness. I think that we grow up with the idea that we need to create stability and a balanced life, and that this will make us happy.
My parents still ask me:
“Julie, when are you going to start thinking about the future?”
But all I can think about it is…
“Collect moments, not things. And do what makes you happy”
The moment that we lose ground and surface underneath us (because of losing a job or breaking up from a relationship, for example) we freak out and get deeply unhappy. We are taught that we need stability (amongst other things, of course) to be a good human being.
The first months after I realized that I had to quit my job, my relationship and that I had to leave my current view on life because it was obviously not working for me, I experienced anxiety, depression, hyperventilation and insomnia.
Listen to your inner voice
My body was just trying to communicate with me that my mind and my soul were unbalanced. I had to learn to start listening to my heart (which was in connection with my soul) and not my thoughts (which were in connection with my mind).
I must admit that it took me many months to get to this point, but the moment I was able to understand that I needed trust instead of fear, that I needed to embrace emptiness instead of trying desperately to fill the gaps in, I could truly become happy again.
When my employer or my partner made me feel down, I also often thought that there was something wrong with me. That is a typical human thing to do and believe, especially when things are not matching. When things are not falling together, they sometimes start to fall apart. So, I quit my job and my relationship and whatever that made me unhappy. I started to respect myself and accept myself the way I am.
Now I am on a new path of self-love in which I learning to love myself with both my under -appreciated talents and skills, and all my shortcomings and traumas. This was the only way I could finally started to live (and blog) again. And so, now you know why I quit blogging for years…
Keep following From Julie With Love from now again, stronger than ever, with a brand-new lay-out, new contents soon, and many more adventures to be shared.
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Sexuality has become inseparable from Cuban national identity. What is controlled through state repression of the so-called jineteros & jinteras is not exploitation, violence, or any objective form of harm but rather unacceptable sex and, through it, unacceptable ways of being.
This in an amazing article about Jineterismo, a neologism that encompasses sexual and affective relations between Cubans (read: Afro-Cuban and mixed-race women/men) and foreigners (read: white men/women), but which also implies a much wider range of other black- and grey-market activities such as selling bootleg rum and cigars, acting as a tout for restaurants and guest houses, and driving unlicensed taxis.
In her new book “From Cuba with Love: Sex and Money in the Twenty-First Century”, Megan Daigle explores the role of love, sexuality, and politics in contemporary Cuba. Highly recommended! I am looking forward to read it myself soon as well…
Five years ago, I spent six months living and working in Cuba – a fact that, in casual conversation, generally provokes expressions of envy and eye rolling about mojitos, salsa music, and academics who don’t really do any work. Cuba is as much a fantasy as a real place. It is totally invested with the romantic and ideological dreams of wildly disparate constituencies: armchair socialists and campus lefties, right-wing US politicians and Cuban émigrés, cocktail-swilling package holiday tourists, and adventure-seeking backpackers, amongst others. Cuba is a steamy and exotic Caribbean island, with rumba dancing and free-flowing rum. Cuba is a repressive and secretive regime. Cuba is a test workshop for socialist ambitions the world over. Cuba is a fantasy.
It was ideas like these about Cuba, Cuban politics, and Cuban people that drew me there in the first place, and the resulting book – built on those months of ethnographic research and…
The further away from home, the more home I feel.
Am I escaping reality, or am I just chasing dreams?
My life isn’t about destinations, it’s about the journeys.
I’m ready for the next step, not willing to settle. At all.
Many of our dreams have been crushed
Through all the negativity and what society breeds in us
We’ve all asked our self can I become?
But if the question or dream seems to big to someone else
They tell you that it can’t be done
You must be joking that’s impossible
That only happens to the lucky few
But why can’t the lucky be you
So many people like to bring up the negative
But why don’t they take out the positive
When everyone says no
You must start to say yes
Whatever you believe
Then I’m 100% sure you will achieve
Whatever you want to be, ask yourself, can I?
My answer will always be why not
Because the future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams….
2012-2013: Studying Tourism in Belgium + Erasmus Spain
2013-2014: Studying Tourism in Belgium + Internship South America + Graduating (Bachelor Degree)
2014-2016: Erasmus Mundus EMTM: “European Master in Tourism Management”
2 years, 4 semesters, 4 universities, 4 destinations !!!
Where I will live the next 5 months… Some pictures:
A (Faraway) place like this
I need an island in the sea,
Away from you away from me,
Beyond the waves beyond the wind,
Beyond the world that we live in,
Under skies of shining stars,
Away from lights and noisy cars,
Above the egos and the stress,
Beyond the world we made a mess.
A place for me a place for you,
An earth that’s green a sky that’s blue,
A place for you a place for me,
An open sky and light blue sea,
With dreams as solid as the ground,
A place like this I think I’ve found.
A happy thought no one can take it,
A place like this is where we make it.
I need a mountain in the sky,
Just beneath where angels fly,
Where snowflakes falling on the ground,
Is the most disruptive sound,
Above the waves above the wind,
Above the world that we live in,
Above my life above the stress,
Where I can lay it all to rest,
Under skies of falling snow,
Just above the world below,
Just above the trees and birds,
A place I can’t describe in words.
An empty place that’s so appealing,
How’d I get this stupid feeling?
Bad ideas come and go,
But none as potent as the snow,
I need no island in the sea,
Just the things that make me me.
I need no mountain in the sky,
Just to laugh try not to cry,
Forget these far off fantasies,
And manifest as realities,
Reach out and grab it in good time,
Seize the moment make it mine,
Catch the moment make it last.
Just be grateful when it’s past.
Sensations as real as the wind,
Try not to be sad when it ends.
A happy thought no one can take it,
A time like this is when we make it.
I need an island in the sea,
And all of that which makes me me.
I have found this amazingly interesting book, called “The Highly Sensitive Person’s Survival Guide” from Ted Zeff.
If you’re a highly sensitive person (HSP), you’re in good company. HSP’s make up some 20 percent of the population, individuals like you who both enjoy and wrestle with a finely tuned nervous system. You often sense things that others ignore such as strong smells, bright lights, and the crush of crowds. Even the presence of strangers in your immediate vicinity can cause you considerable distraction. You already know that this condition can be a gift, but, until you learn to master your sensitive nervous system, you might be operating in a constant state of overstimulation.
As an HSP, the most important thing you can learn is how to manage your increased sensitivity to both physical and emotional stimulation. This accessible, practical guide contains strategies to help you master this critical skill. Build your coping skills by exploring the books engaging exercises. Then, keep the book by your side, a constant companion as you make your way through your vibrant and highly stimulating world.
Are you a Highly Sensitive Person?
I seem to be aware of subteties in my environment.
I am easily overwhelmed by strong sensory input.
Other people’s moods affect me.
I tend to be very sensitive to pain.
I find myself needing to withdraw during busy days, into bed or into a darkened room or any place where I can have some privacy and relief from stimulation.
I am particularly sensitive to the effects of caffeine.
I am easily overwhelmed by things like bright lights, strong smells, coarse fabrics, or sirens close by.
I have a rich, complex inner life.
I am made uncomfortable by loud noises.
I am deeply moved by the arts or music.
My nervous system sometimes feels so frazzled that I just have to go off by myself.
I am consientious.
I startle easily.
I get rattled when I have a lot to do in a short amount of time.
When people are uncomfortable ini a physical environment I tend to know what needs to be done to make it more comfortable (like changing the lightning or the seating).
I am annoved when people try to get me to do too many things at once.
I try hard to avoid making mistakes or forgetting things.
I make a point to avoid violent movies and TV shows.
I become unpleasantly aroused when a lot is going on around me.
Being very hungry creates a strong reaction in me, disrupting my concentration or mood.
Changes in my life shake me up.
I notice and enjoy delicate or fine scents, tastes, sounds, works of art.
I find it unpleasant to have a lot going on at once.
I make it a high priority to arrange my life to avoid upsetting or overwhelming situations.
I am bothered by intense stimuli, like loud noises or chaotic scenes.
When I must compete or be observed while performing a task, I become so nervous or shaky that I do much worse than I would otherwise.
When I was a child, my parents or teachers seemed to see me as sensitive or shy.
If you could answer more than 12 quotes with ‘true’, you are probably highly sensitive. (Test by Elaine Aaron, 1996.)
A poetical medley of lyrics and self-written letters to the only men in the world I have ever loved so much that I can’t forget my love. This one is for the man I met on the other side of the world. We had an extraordinary, almost magical, time together. We held contact and kept dreaming. When met a few times again, knowing this was extremely special but from one day to another I decided to end it all. Because a man can’t live of his dreams and as someone said it so beautifully: “you can’t eat love.”
I still have difficulties with forgiving myself in making the decision of leaving somebody, not because I didn’t love him anymore but because of self-protection. I played the father figure I did not have, and decided for myself that I deserved better. Now I often think: who am I to think that I am that special. Maybe he was more… Anyhow, we both left in opposite directions, in search for a new life and especially in search for a new meaning of life. I guess we’ll both still searching, not able to figure it out yet…
I wish I could just meet you
meet you again so you could see me cry
There’s so much I need to say to you
So many reasons why
You’re the only one who I wanted, you really were it all
Well, now there’s just an empty space
And you coming back to me is against the odds
And that’s what I’ve got to face
‘Cause we’ve shared the laughter and the pain
And even shared the tears
You’re the only one who I really really wanted, you were it all
So I just have to face now
That there’s just an empty space
And there’s nothing left here to remind me
Just the memory of your face
I used to think that if I closed my eyes and imagined you were there
You would do the same and see me too
I just knew our love was true
It was the most true feeling I ever felt
It was the realest love I ever felt
But still I’ve let you go
Why, I don’t know
No, I do know but I can’t forgive myself
Because I know now how precious love is
Because when you have none, you can’t live
Baby, I can’t live without you
But life goes on
And you are already gone
Oh baby, I can’t forgive myself
I’d give my all to have
Just one more day with you
I’d risk my life to know
That you’re doing fine
‘cause I can’t go on
Living in the memory of …
Of how you lived back there
Baby, can you still feel me
Imagining I’m sitting with you at the dock
I can see you clearly
Vividly emblazoned in my mind
And yet you’re so far
Like a distant star
I’m wishing on today
That you’re okay.
Because no. No, I can’t forget that morning
Or your face as I was leaving
But I guess there is nothing do about it anymore
You always smiled…
But in your eyes your sorrow showed
Yes it showed
That for me you couldn’t be
No, I can’t forget about tomorrow
When I think of all your sorrows
When I had you there but then I let you go
And now it’s only fair that I should let you know
What you should know
I am very sorry to be the one to let you go
That I am still very much in love with you
But it just couldn’t be true
Because it might’ve been too good to be true
But baby, just remember you’re my hero
Just look inside your heart
And see that I will always stay in there
There is always an answer, just reach into your soul
And the sorrow that you know will melt away
I wish I could be here with you today
So that my hero could come along
With the strength that he made me carry on
You casted my fears aside
Oh baby, but I know you will survive
With or without me
So, when you feel like hope is gone,
Just look inside yourself and be strong
And you’ll finally see the truth
That I still love you…
And be forever there with you…
But right now, it’s a long road, because we face the world alone
And no one reaches out a hand for us to hold…
They say you can find love if you search within yourself
And yes, I know you’re there
So the emptiness we feel can disappear…
Only Lord knows dreams are hard to follow
And we didn’t let anyone tear them away
We hold on, and there was the day,
In time we found our way…
I just hold on, because there will be tomorrow,
I just doubt you’ll find the way?
We were as one, baby
For a moment in time
The world was ours
And it seemed everlasting
You would always be mine
Then I wanted to be free
And so you’ll let me fly
Because you know in your heart
Our love will never die
Baby, thank you
You’ll aways be part of me
I’m part of you indefinitely
Time can’t erase a feeling this strong
You weren’t crying, no
And you weren’t begging me to stay
I was determined to leave, yes
You were not standing in my way
I’ll want to go back again
Because I know in my heart, baby
Our love will never end
I hope that you’ll be okay one day
And your days and your nights get a little bit warmer
I know that you’ll be alright
Oh baby, believe me it’s only a matter of time
Dedicated to Venancio Vilfredo Martinez Gonzales (°29/01/1971, Roatan – Honduras)
Edited lyrics from Mariah Carey (Against All Odds, My All, Without You, Hero & Always be my baby)