My Theory On Blooming

LIFE OF AN AMERICAN EXPAT LIVING ABROAD

Spring is upon us.  The flowers are starting to sprout and bloom, and the weather here in Belgium is trying it’s best to brighten up.  Its aim isn’t very good yet…so it’s hit or miss each day. 
Spring is a time of rebirth, right?  So, why can’t that rebirth make us take a minute to reflect on the things that we weren’t happy with or would like to do over from the past year?  It’s like a mulligan for all those failed New Year’s promises.
 
I’ve decided to try a couple new things that I’m not very good at, or would like to improve.
1.  Broadening my culinary horizons – I’m trying new recipes and new foods.  This is a two step process.  First, not being afraid of asking.  Two, giving it the old college try. 
Europe is full of foods that aren’t readily available in the US, or they may be available, but they just aren’t popular.  When you go to the markets, you can find such beautiful and exotic foods.  Typically I’m pretty intimidated by making a purchase at stores or vendors because my language skills are so terrible (this is my own fault, and I accept that).  Yesterday I had enough guts to buy four different items from this booth full of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean dishes.  It was full of olives, peppers, hummus, salads, and some delicious cheese and meat pies in phyllo dough.  It was all delicious, and I can’t wait to go back for more.  I wouldn’t have known this unless I swallowed my pride and asked.
I’m always afraid that whatever I make might turn out badly or poison someone.  This morning I’ve made protein bars (4th try, and they still aren’t very good…but this time they are sticking together), Tuscan Fennel and Orange Salad, and Creamy Cucumber Salad.  I always find that I’m a bit timid when I see something at the grocery store that looks tempting.  Here in Europe, you always see people walking around with huge bundles of leeks and bulbs of fennel.  Before moving here, I wouldn’t have even given those items a second glance in the US.  Now, I buy them, cook them, and enjoy them.
2. Getting outside…rain or shine – Here in Belgium we get lots of rain and dreary days, and it can be easy to hole yourself up in your house and hibernate.  It’s funny that on any given day in my community there are a ton of people at the park walking, running, and biking…no matter the weather.  It’s a way of life for Europe.  I’m lucky that my bootcamp class is outside, and that I walk the dog daily…it’s so nice to get the fresh air in my lungs.  But, that’s a rain or shine activity too…so maybe it’s toughened me up.
I’ve been trying to be more creative with the girls being outside too.  Since they don’t particularly enjoy taking the dog for a walk, I had to motivate them with scavenger hunts.  They love it.  They end up finding treasures all around the neighborhood.  I’m also allowing scooters and bikes on our walks (which I usually end up carrying), and we’re going to the outdoor markets together more too.  I usually end up spending more, but they get to learn and see new things.  These activities are far better than the mud pie party that they had in the back yard the other day…they were covered head to foot.  There were hand prints all down the side of the house, and piles of mud on the window sills.  Let’s just say that I wasn’t happy with them.  If I talk about it more, I might start swearing uncontrollably.
So, those are my Spring Rebirths.  Seems kind of sad in a sense, don’t you think?  I mean, so many people here in Belgium do these things as a daily part of their life.  We get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of life that we forget to chisel out time to take a walk or try something new.  We just don’t have the time.  I think we should all make a little time for ourselves to discover.  It’s rewarding.  It’s healthy.  And, it’s needed. 
What are your Spring Rebirths?  I’d love to hear them.

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