One of the big tests for a relationship is what happens in times of sickness. It is easy to be there for each other when things are easy but what happens when one of you gets ill and has to have medical treatment. The balance in the relationship shifts; this week hasn't been about dates and romance. It has been about him caring for me and me feeling quite helpless at times - I felt like a stranded whale some moments when getting up from my bed was too painful!
In the time we have been together, I have had two operations with a general anaesthetic so I can say first hand that I know how my navy guy steps up when I need him to. My operation this week was not great timing - he had to finish writing and hand in an exam paper for his masters degree plus life in the navy doesn't stop because your girlfriend is having an operation. But he was there for me - the one who took my plaster off because I was too scared to do it, the one who helped wash the iodine off in the shower, the one who has bought me painkillers so I didn't run out, the one who put me to bed every night and the one who was there with me at the hospital.
The other person who is always there for me - despite us not being married anymore - is Steffen. I wasn't well enough to have the children back on Thursday so he kept them an extra day without any fuss. He also always steps up if I am ill and need help and support.
Whilst we don't want to have illness and bad health test us, it is inevitable that it does and I feel so grateful for having the support I have had this last week. We also had moments that made us laugh - being pushed out of hospital in a wheel chair and us imagining this was us escaping from an old people's home together showed me we can keep our humour in tough times.
One of my favourite radio programmes and podcasts is from the BBC called Desert Island Discs.
This has inspired me to make my own list and why. Each person can have 8 tracks. I am sharing my top 8 plus my overall top 25 tracks.
The rest of the list
As a single mum to two children, someone who runs her own business and girlfriend to a Naval officer - who is also a dad - currently taking a Masters degree alongside his full time job, I have to work hard at the relationships with key people in my life. It involves planning. It also involves being creative.
How do I keep my relationships alive?
Over the Christmas holidays, I watched a great film about minimalism - it was one of those films and moments that things shifted for me.
It had been on my mind for a while that I wanted to make some changes. I have too many books and more importantly, too many books I have bought and never read. I have three yoga mats, so many pairs of shoes, a box full of handbags, notebooks that I have never written in...the list went on and on.
This was impacting both my bank balance plus my storage space at home. I felt like I was getting addicted to having things "just in case" - and believe me, that "just in case" day never arrives. I am not quite sure why I felt the need to stock up on things in ALL areas of my life.
So I have been slowly making changes.
I sorted out my books and gave a lot away. I went through all my clothes and gave a big pile to charity. Same with ornaments - vases, candle holders...I had enough to decorate three homes.
I am also aware now of what I am buying. I only buy things which are essential and necessary. I am using up my "supplies" - shower gels, face masks...I had a small beauty shop in my bathroom.
I haven't got rid of everything and that isn't the point with minimalism. It isn't a competition about having the fewest things. It is about having what you need and no more. I also know this is a journey and one that takes new habits. I keep adjusting and letting go - somethings are MUCH harder to let go of than other things. Also an interesting observation...
A great place to start is The Minimalists website - great tips and resources.
Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.
Love takes many forms. Over the last few years I made a shift and allowed more love in my life. There are times when my ego gets in the way. There are times when I push love away.
Love is my guiding force in life. I have explored this through learning more about myself, buddhism, how I show up in the world and be aware of what happens when I am open to love.
Areas where I want to focus on when it comes to love:
I heard this week that we were half way through winter and I paused to reflect on this. I have the feeling at the moment that winter will never end. Getting up in dark mornings, not seeing the sun and a general feeling of greyness that seems to be there day after day.
Winter in Denmark this year is very grey. So far we have had very little snow and very few of the beautiful cold winter blue skies. There is more light now than around Christmas but it feels like a continual succession of grey days. The craving for sunshine grows and I know that just as we feel we cannot stand the winter any more, spring will arrive.
This last month I have felt very inward - reflecting, working hard, spending time alone, resting, spending a lot less time online. Normally I love to write and share what is going on in my life. Recently I feel I have made some big shifts that I have needed to process them before being able to share.
I love this quote by Albert Camus. I feel like this at the moment. I am coming out of the winter a different and stronger person. I am more focused, more structured, clearer on what I want and don't want.
In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer.
Next month, we will be welcoming spring. The wonderful magic of nature as we shift into a season of growth and more light.
I will share with you the steps I am taking and changes I have made to my life over the next few weeks and you can follow my journey into spring.
For this month, we have deviated from our pizza tasting to pie tasting. We headed into Copenhagen to the American Pie Company which is based on a beautiful side street in the city centre. After seeing many posts of pies on instragram, we were full of anticipation and were certainly not disappointed.
It is in an old Danish building (very hyggelig) and has a lovely combination of relaxed cafe, American decor (with the flag and stools at the counter to sit on) and very friendly staff. They all spoke English as well - always bonus points.
It seats about 28 people.
Lemon Meringue Pie
I have a thing (let's call it a love affair) for lemon meringue pie and this summer I introduced Max to it when we were in North Wales.
This was the pie we ate today and wow...so delicious. Lemony with fluffy meringue.
10 out of 10.
Chocolate Oreo Pie
Lucy chose to have this chocolate oreo pie. I got a taste of it - also delicious if you are a chocolate lover. One piece of this really fills you up and she had to share it with Max and myself.
Great combination of the cream on top (which had bits of oreo in it), chocolate cream filling (rich and gooey) and biscuit crust.
You can also buy all the slices (or whole pies) to take home. We wanted to test some others over the weekend (and share with Niels) so we bought a box with a mix of pie slices - apple, cherry, brownie plus more lemon meringue pie and one oreo slice.
This is a great place to visit for a treat. They also have savoury pies which we saw people eating (and they also looked delicious).
A very good place in the middle of Copenhagen that combines Danish hygge with American pies.
This has been a strange year. A year of learning, of transformation and a lot of emotions - from the Brexit result, Trump being elected, the war in Syria to my own personal journey of ups and downs.
On the second to last day of 2016, I wanted to reflect and celebrate the top 25 memories for me from 2016.
Today I am 42 years and 6 months old and I am making a very public commitment to not buy anything non-essential for the next 6 months.
As I unpacked the boxes (yes, 4 boxes) of Christmas decorations today, I realised it was yet another example of an area in my life where I have way too many things. The list could go on - bags, shoes, boots, books, ornaments and mugs (and I don't even drink hot drinks!)
To match my desire to consume less and to save money, I decided to make this commitment and to set myself a 6 month goal. Maybe I will continue after that but a clear goal to my birthday will keep my focused.
What do I consider to be on the essential list?
In addition, I am going to try and either sell things I don't need or give them to charity. I am going to look at all areas of my life and see how I can consume less - from plastic bags to using my car less.
Keep reading to follow my journey.
Today I arrived home. Quite strange really as the place I had been this week is the place I refer to as the homeland and the country where I am a citizen. But it isn't home. Arriving in Copenhagen is coming home for me and tonight there was no better feeling.
In 2016, I have taken 8 trips - with 6 of them being to the UK. This is a pretty normal travel year for me and have only done one long haul flight. Other years I have travelled a lot more so I can't say that I am tired from too much travel. But at the same time I am and I gave this some thought today.
The flight experience
Being in the wrong place at the other end
Not needing to escape or find the answer somewhere else
I do want to keep on having adventures and I will keep travelling. There are many places in the world I want to see and experience - plus friends to visit. RIght now, today, I am happy to be back in Denmark in the place I call home.
On a journey to live the best sparkling life possible. Brit living in Denmark, mum to two amazing little people, Navy girlfriend, jazz lover, exploring yoga, buddhism and living healthy.