There is this trend going around. The end of the year challenge. The challenge basically consist of sharing a photo of yourself from the beginning of the year and a picture of now to see how much you’ve changed. I haven’t made an amazing transformation on the outside. My hair is longer and in a different shade. I have new glasses. My nails are longer and healthier. I have new scars and a new tattoo. Some of my teeth are finally fixed although I still have constant toothache. It wasn’t a massive transformation on the outside. The best I would say is I grew older and wiser. The transformation I made on the inside however…is massive. A LOT happened this year. Damn isn’t that an understatement.
The beginning of the year was such an exciting time. Onno was going to arrive in South Africa. It would be the first time we see each other after six months and it was also his first time meeting my family and friends. His stay in South Africa was three weeks and every moment was so exciting and wonderful that it kicked off the perfect busy year that was 2017. It was also the month where we celebrated our pre wedding and my 21st birthday.
In the beginning of February, Onno headed back to the Netherlands and we embarked the last stretch to get my partner VISA and in essence get me back in the Netherlands so our lives together can finally start. Before we could hand in the application I had to write a Dutch test in South Africa and once we receive the results we can take the next step. The appointment was for the 23rd of February and in Pretoria. I studied my sweet little ass off and Dutch was practically coming out of my ears! I learned so much of their history and language that it made my head spin. The test arrived and I flew to Pretoria or well inside South Africa for the very first time. I was on my own with no family or friends in the area and damn did it made me feel like a real independent adult. It was the first time I had that feeling in South Africa. I relied on Uber to get me to and from every destination and my three day stay was a success. The test was easy breezy and now we just had to wait six weeks for the results. Yay!
In the beginning of March I headed to Knysna, the town my father lives in. There I concentrated on my health, started my fitness again all the while balancing an online nutrition course that was truly so informative and changed the way I thought about a lot of things. I also cared for my father which was quite an interesting time. This is also the time where I burned myself with hot water and I feared that half of my side would turn into a scar. Luckily I walked away with a thumb sized scar on my hip. It was also the month where we worked none stop on getting everything ready for our partner VISA application so when the results arrive (early April) we can immediately send it and wait it out (another six to eight weeks). The process was quite brutal as we had to PROVE our relationship from the day of meeting to the day off applying. It was a lot of screenshots and old receipts.
April was a sad month. My Grandmother was diagnosed with inner ear cancer and had to be flown to Cape Town in an emergency flight for her treatment. My father and I drove through last minute (6 hour drive) to be with the family and to see her after she comes out of surgery. It was difficult to see such a strong women so weak and paranoid. It broke my heart. In this time I lost a friendship and started to really miss my precious Dutch boy. I however kept going, finishing my course with great results and my health and fitness was finally at a great place. I was running weekly again. It felt good to be working on myself but I was mostly just distracting myself. I tried my best not to think of how much I miss my fiancé and how much I wanted to press play on my life and start my life in the Netherlands.
I headed in May knowing I should bid my goodbyes now. I knew it was close now. The time I will leave. In the beginning of May, I said goodbye to my dogs at my dad’s house and moved back to Cape Town to spend a few weeks with my mom before I leave. In this time I spend a lot of time with family and friends in the area and even looked after my three year old nephew for two weeks. Middle of May we entered the six weeks since handing in our application period and we felt it…in every cell of our bodies. Soon. SOON. On the 18th of May Onno came home to the letter. I was driving to the shop to get stuff for dinner (still at my cousins house looking after my nephew) when he came home. I was in the shop when I finally looked at my phone and that’s when I found out. I immediately started to cry. The wait was over. Our application was accepted! I called my parents who started to cry and immediately we jumped in and started to plan everything. I was going to leave as soon as I possibly could. I wanted to arrive before Onno’s Birthday. It took some fighting as somewhere in the chain of the immigration office it didn’t show my VISA was accepted but my bags were packed and my father was ready to make the drive at one phone call. I was saying goodbye to friends and even got my South African inspired tattoo. On the 31st of May I got my VISA and before I even left the parking lot Onno booked my flight for the next day. My dad drove through that night. The next morning I split up my time, saying goodbye to the family and friends in the area, having a lovely breakfast with my dad before picking up my mum up at Lunch time to finally open the bottle of champagne patiently waiting since January. The last day of May ended up to be my last day in South Africa as a resident.
I flew on the first of June. The flight was long and emotional and I landed on Onno’s birthday. The perfect birthday present if you ask me. The first few days after landing was so emotional that I can’t even begin to put them into words. Just as I was settling in, I got news of a ugly forest fire in the little town my father lives. He works for the government and was inside of the chaos and he went dark. No one could reach him for hours. It was the worst feeling in the world but I eventually heard he was okay and I could breathe again. It was a true reminder on how difficult it was going to get sometimes. Life was changing and our family was growing. Speculoos joined our two human family on the 10th and he quickly stole the heart of everyone around him. Life quickly stepped up as we enjoyed the summer weather and started house hunting. Eventually we decided to wait a few months as the perfect house was nowhere to be seen. We ended the month with the start of something big, bicycling.
July was just a month of constant bicycling. We were planning the bicycle tour for the first time and started the training. So much time was spend in a bicycle seat my butt did a little clench just remembering it. By the end of the July I also started working on my blog. I wanted to release it at the first of August. I was working daily on creating content for the release and designing the website. July was also the month of meeting a fellow fitness friend from Instagram! How exciting!
The beginning of August was an exciting one. We arranged our marriage appointment in the court and I released my blog. I went dress shopping with my soon to be mother in law, we continued our bicycling although we were slowing down at this point. By the middle of the month I reached a big goal of mine. 1000km of LISS in only 216 days! It was my yearly goal and I completely smashed it! I feel so damn proud of myself because I finally turned things around. I was turning an active lifestyle into a habit. I was moving away from following a 12 week guide or doing 8 week training of this and that and more into a lifestyle change. The bicycling continued and then the day arrived. The big wedding day. We finally tied the knot. Husband and wife. For as long as we live. Forever and a day.
September was a great month for making content, bicycling and experiencing new things. It was also the month of getting more of my teeth fixed (I did a few in the month before but some appointments I’ve blocked from my memory) and going to the doctor for the first time here in the Netherlands. He confirmed my test results from January 2016 and officially diagnosed me with the celiac disease. September was a good month. I experienced a lot of new things, Onno chose my look for the day and I shared experiences and stories online.
I entered October and studied my ass off. I had the big language test coming up in November and I had to be ready. Onno’s mom stepped in and saved the day by giving me Dutch lessons twice a week for the month. In between Onno and I tried to bicycle when we can but it was becoming difficult to bicycle outside or to get to the gym on time so we purchased our stationary bicycle for the house. And boy has this machine seen his fare share of butt hours by now. October was another good month for content on here and I was getting a reaction from you all. I really love writing these blogs. As you may have noticed with the large amount of content that I pump out. I’m giving myself a high five.
November I noticed just how much my body has changed since arriving in the Netherlands. I was topping the highest weigh I’ve ever been and I didn’t allow it to bring me down. I took a step back, started to concentrate on my mental health and just let the pressure go. November was also the month my father had his operation. It was a difficult time. I got through it somehow. I wrote the test and I just took day by day. My father had some complications in the recovery period and eventually the pressure was too much and I stepped away from social media. I didn’t know how long I would stay offline but after a week my dad was back home, settled in and things started to look up again. I finally took a deep breath. I got back in the swing of things by pumping a large amount of content and restarting my bicycle training. The time offline did me wonders and I definitely want to make it a habit. I just want to take a step back and sign off for a week every few months. Planned without any parent in the hospital of course. When this happens I will make sure to have blogs schedule and ready to fill my radio silence.
December came with many great memories and gifts. Sinterklaas (Dutch Santa) brought me chocolate. The Netherlands brought me snow for the very first time. My mother brought me an amazing package from home. Speculoos brought me many new memories and one vet scare. My cousin brought me my England trip. Annd Christmas brought me the most perfect memory with my husband and his family.
2017. What a year you were. Thank you for everything. You gave me my husband and for that I will never forget you…