Monday, 22 December 2014

Happy Things: my water colour set.

Hello there, it's been a while!
I've been incredibly busy with exams and other stuff, which is why I didn't really have time to write a new post. I still need to post something about Yule (winter solstice) as well, which I will do once I've done my personal ritual.
I've been shopping today. I needed some new colours for my water colour set. Water colours are my favorite medium. It allows me to pursue my perfectionism and when done properly gives a painting a luminous quality that you can't achieve with oils or acrylics.

My professional quality water colour set was gifted to me by my mother when I was 11. That means that I've been painting with this set for 13 years already! Every single one of my water colour paintings is made with this set. I have made hundreds, if not thousands of paintings with it.
If I didn't have it, I think that I probably would have been dead. This sounds a bit over dramatic but since painting was my sole refuge from my depression I think that if I didn't have that, I would have gone completely crazy and killed myself. 

I painted 3 to 5 paintings a week when I was in the deepest of my depression. I filled my days with it as painting was the only thing that could bring me a certain peace of mind. I still have all those paintings in boxes in the attic. To be honest most of them are not very good but I don't want to throw them away, just as I feel like I couldn't ever exchange this set for a brand new one. I once thought I lost it somewhere and I was devastated - when it turned up again I was over the moon!

When I came home with my refills I felt the urge to clean my set. I have never done that before as dried up watercolour paint can be re-used and I felt it to be a waste of paint. Needless to say, after 13 years of use it was pretty filthy. I couldn't scrub everything off and some of it is just rust but I am happy with how it looks now and I wanted to share with you the one thing that most probably saved my life. It is rusty and butched and battered, just like I am, but it is still alive, well and doing its job. Just like me!

Thank you, dear old rusty friend, for all these years that you have been there for me when nobody listened. I love you.


Thursday, 27 November 2014

So the battle begins!

To be honest, the battle has already been raging for a couple of weeks.
What battle? Well.. the battle against winter depression.

Some of you in colder countries might have experience with this. It is actually quite common, and you don't even have to be depressed to begin with. Know that feeling you get in the winter, when you can't get out of bed, can't bring up the courage to drag yourself to work, to school, or anywhere? Know that feeling that you just want to stay home in your pj's all day and never leave bed? Know that feeling that when you leave for work, it's dark outside, and when you go back, it's dark again; and asking yourself where your day has been? Know that feeling that you just want to turn up the heater all the time because you can't stop feeling chilly? Know that feeling that a simple cold can knock you out for a week because your resistance is so low?

Well, if you think that sounds familiar, you might have a winter depression, just as millions of other people, myself included. 
Winter depression is, simply put, what happens if you don't see enough daylight. Daylight is vital for us, and helps our skin and our body generate a whole bunch of vitamins and also increases our serotonin levels. No daylight can lead to vitamin shortages (which can also be a cause for depression) and low serotonin levels. It can make you feel absolutely terrible. 
Today I will explain how to battle this shortage of daylight and how to conquer it!

The first and best option for battling winter depression is *drumroll* daylight!

Try to walk or simply be in the daylight for at least half an hour a day. If you're at work or at school, try to eat your lunch outside, or take a walk around the block. I know it isn't always possible to get a healthy dose of daylight every day and the light is so much less bright in the winter so I wouldn't advise this as the only solution, but it is certainly the first one to consider.

My second advice would be to take your vitamins. 
Did you know that the overwhelming majority of the people in the world don't get enough vitamins and minerals? The food nowadays is so much stuffed with unhealthy things and does not contain enough to actually make us thrive. I usually eat healthy but I have my days as well, and especially if you eat a lot of prepackaged foods it is not a bad idea to take a multivitamin every day, especially in winter, when your body (due to the shortage of sunlight) does not work as properly as it should be.

To battle a winter depression you should take at least 25 mcg vitamin D, if not more. I usually take 50 mcg myself. A good multivitamin on top of that is never a bad idea. It will help balance your resistance and keep you healthy as well as happy.

The third thing you can do to battle winter depression (this is especially a good idea when you don't have time to walk outside every day) is buy a light therapy lamp or daylight lamp. I got one from my dad last week and I can already tell that it helps. You technically only have to use it for half an hour, seven days a month but I put mine on every morning and evening and it really helps with my day rythm. It's a very easy way because you literally just have to put it on and sit next to it or in front of it. I am currently typing this blog post with my light therapy lamp next to me. If you have a desk job, you could also take it to work and just place it on your desk. 

My fourth advice, given to me by my therapist, is to 'collect your nuts'. She made a comparison to squirrels, who collect nuts in the autumn to help get them through the winter. In short: Go look for stuff, creative projects, series, movies, books, anything you like and collect it all together to help keep yourself busy during the dark days. Like superheroes? Watch a superhero movie every week or get yourself a bunch of comic books. I have a lot of creative projects lined up and am happy to look forward to, and if you keep yourself busy you will have less time for moping and sulking around. Try to do things with your friends as well! Organise parties, get-togethers and movie marathons. Pull yourself and everyone around you out of the misery!
This picture is of one of the 'anti-winterdepression' projects I'm currently working on.

My final advice is something that I figured out by myself. I light a candle every night before I go to bed and just hold it with my eyes closed while sitting on the floor for 10-15 minutes. I try to focus myself on the warmth and light that radiates from the candle - on my skin and through my eyelids. I also like to think about the vital importance of light in this world, and how it will help things grow and thrive; not only plants but animals as well, as well as you and me. If you are able to focus enough, you will feel that slowly, all the stress and the misery will lift off your shoulders and it usually calms me down well enough that I am able to get a good night's sleep.

It's a very simple meditation method but I feel that if I focus myself on what light is and what it does, it also helps me get through the dark days.

I hope this advice will help you make it through the dark days as much as it helps me. 
And remember; the shortest night of the year is already due in less than a month (21 dec), and from there on, things will only get better (and lighter!).



Monday, 10 November 2014

Happy Outfit: Aurora Borealis

This was a post that I started a while ago and never finished. A simple outfit post. I cut my hair in the meantime and it's not as blue anymore but I really like it here!

I was so happy to have found this dress for a good price. It was a limited edition and I missed out on it when it came out. This is also a dress that has a special meaning for me.

Aurora Borealis literally means 'Dawn of the North Wind'. Since the North Wind is often associated with cold, darkness, winter and depression it reminds me a bit of a light in the darkness.
Both Aurora and Boreas are gods in the pre-Christian Roman religion; Aurora is the goddess of dawn, and Boreas the god of the North Wind.

Since I associate my depression so strongly with the contrast of light and dark, visually, it reminded me of how there is always hope. I specifically wanted to have this for the winter, even though it's not warm at all, but just to remind me that even in the darkness there is light. And beautiful light too.

As I said, I cut my hair in the meantime and the hairdresser cut almost all the blue off :( it was very damaged though. I'm going to rebleach and dye it soon!

I'm wearing eyeshadows by Boozy Cosmetics and the lipstick is Serpentina by Lime Crime.


Happy Place: my home.

After the quite alarming post I did on Saturday night I am doing much better now. I received so many inbox messages and I'm so happy and flattered with them. One message was from my aunt, who promised me a few months ago to do some cleaning for me as a birthday present. I didn't feel guilty about collecting that present because she offered it before so we worked all day and now my kitchen and living room are completely clean. I still need to do the bathroom and two other rooms but the most important spaces in the house are clean and so cosy! I could not resist taking some pictures of my living room as it looks now.

Here is the infamous 'after' picture of the picture I had posted in my last post:

Looks better eh? The stuff on my table are in fact my study books that I have yet to find a place for since my bookshelves are overflowing. I've put some birthday cards and other nice stuff there as well. I still need to pin those to my kitchen cupboard but for now they look nice.

This is my couch, on which I am sitting typing this right now. I made the curtains myself; they have ladybugs on it. I have a ladybug tattoo on my foot as well that's actually inspired by these curtains. They are some kind of symbol of freedom for me.

This is my old granny TV, with built in VHS player! In the cupboard is my collection of video tapes (mostly Disney). Even though my TV is huge, heavy and not very handy at all, I love it and I wouldn't trade it for the world.

The flowers really are the finishing touch.

And what is a lovely morning like without the most delicious breakfast? Spinach salad with cherry tomatoes, avocado, olive oil, flax and hemp seeds and cashews. Yum!

In the mess, I sometimes forget what a beautiful little house I have and how happy and blessed I feel to live here. I really hope I can keep it clean now, despite being away all the time and despite owning so much stuff. Forsaking household tasks is a symptom of depression. However, I think that it might be something else too. I am incredibly disorganised. I am unable to keep a diary or any kind of schedule. I have a very scattered concentration; one moment I'm literally hyperfocused, and the other I'm completely disoriented. I even paint during my lectures because it helps me stay hyperfocused, while lectures, even though I often find them very interesting, make me fall asleep. It's not that I don't want to clean my house, clean my mind or keep a schedule, I just can't do it. And it drives me crazy.

I think these problems are not only a symptom but also the source of my depression, apart from the traumas that I've had in my past and still have issues with. I think I might have undiagnosed Attention Deficit Disorder. I've decided to pluck up the courage and talk about it with my therapist, from whom I even kept this because I was too ashamed of it and therefore always waved away, as I did with so many of my other problems. This is yet another that I have to face as well. But I have regained confidence in myself and I really hope I can sort it out, be it with therapy or medication. This is really a huge step for me as I have always shunned any form of therapy or medication and am afraid of it. I took the step to visit a therapist at the beginning of this year, and now I'm taking another step to help try and finish off one of the deepest roots of my problems.

Thanks to everyone who read my last post and was concerned with me. I feel so happy to have so many dear people around me. Thank you!


Sunday, 9 November 2014

Pile of black shit.

This blog is all about happiness and how I try to achieve it.

I haven't been posting much. This is well.. because I am not exactly happy at this moment. And I am about to be completely honest about this as honesty is the key to acceptance and acceptance is (hopefully) the key to getting better. At least, that's what I've learned about my depression so far.
I'm not sure if it is wise to throw all my shit online. Probably not, but I'm going to do it anyway.
And remind, these thought patterns is my depression speaking.

I had a miscarriage a few weeks ago. It was not planned and it was not really wanted as I have more on my head right now and am not done yet with my education, I am far too busy and not financially stable. After two weeks of freaking out whether I was pregnant or not, I started bleeding and lost a tiny little lump of cells. Or, as it grew in my mind, a dead child.

A close family member of mine that I care almost more about than anything in the world is very very sick and apart from me growing to want this child (and doubting about it like hell) I really wanted them to enjoy it too. I am also really struggling with their illness personally and having a hard time dealing with it. For which I feel guilty, for who is the one to actually be sick?

My best friend had a beautiful little baby a few days ago. It was a difficult pregnancy and an even more difficult delivery. I have been with her most of the few hours I had off this week, as I currently work 4 days a week and have lectures 5 days a week. I am so in love with the little boy and I am so incredibly happy everything worked out fine but looking at him also makes me remember the own insignificant lump of cells that I have just lost. For which I feel guilty, because my friend has suffered so much more than me during her pregnancy and delivery and deserves uncomplicated joy more than anyone else.

I'm not looking forward at all to the winter. I feel it in my body already, the lack of light and warmth and the darkness that comes with it. I feel like I have been keeping myself so busy lately as to ignore myself and to ignore dealing with my own problems or being able to ask anyone for help about it. I have been working a lot and spending almost all of my time off trying to be there for my loved ones that I forget about me. I don't want to talk about me. I don't want to annoy my loved ones with my troubles. I don't want to face my troubles as I am scared of them. I'm constantly lying to myself.

In fact, I am running away from me. I don't dare to invite people to my house because it is a reflection of my mind and a constant reminder that I'm not doing well. I even avoid going to my own house because it reminds me too of how bad I am doing and how I can't cope. It looks like this and I don't even want to start about what it smells like:

I honestly don't even know where to start cleaning up my shit, both in my head and in my house. I don't know how either. I am surrounded with dirt that I am so desperately trying to get away from. I feel guilty about everything and I feel guilty about feeling guilty because well, it's just me. Tiny insignificant me, with insignificant problems while everyone around me has so much worse stuff to deal with. I feel guilty about this post because I don't want to expose this part of myself. I don't want people to see this.

I don't want to ask for help. I don't want people helping with my shit because it's stupid. It's stupid that I can't even clean my house, or keep it clean. It's stupid for me to feel this. My problems are stupid. My head is stupid. My limitations are stupid. My attempts at trying to lead a life are stupid. I am stupid. I am stupid for trying to run away from it instead of facing it with my head raised. I feel guilty trying to ask people close to me for help because I don't want to burden them with my problems that are already too overwhelming for me while they have so much to deal with themselves and I am already trying to be there for them. I want to be able to raise my head, spend a week to completely clean my house, be able to clean my head and be happy but I can't. I am holding myself in a grip that I can't seem to get out of. And every time that I try to do something about it it feels like I am mopping the floor with the water tap open (that is a dutch phrase that translates quite well how I feel).

And this is what I have been feeling since well.. I can't remember when it started to be honest. I am so tired. I am so, so tired. I can't even cope with my own head, how am I supposed to cope with my life? I can't keep on blocking all of my feelings but if I let everything go it will be a bottomless pit of blackness and filthy rotting mess that I frantically try to hide from everyone.
 But on the other hand I do want people to reach out to me. To say: 'Jopie, I see you are struggling with yourself. I wanna give you a hug. I won't say anything. I won't judge. And then let me guide you into cleaning up your problems inside and out. Let's get to business now!'
And truth is, by saying this I already know how hard it is to accept any help, especially after posting this. Why? Because I feel guilty. I don't want to burden people with my problems because they are mine and not someone else's. I don't want to pour my pile of shit onto others.

This above post hopefully describes what depression feels like. I hope you understand my crazy negative thought spirals. If you have a loved one going through a depression I hope you can understand them a little bit better. Again, I am not asking for help even though deep down I know I need it.

And this will probably be my only post going into detail about this. It's a filthy and rotten part of me that I detest and don't like to expose. However, there cannot be light without darkness, and this too, as horrible as it feels and as much as I'm trying to hide it, is a part of me.


Friday, 31 October 2014


Hi there!

It has been silent here for quite some time because I had a lot of personal and medical issues and I had a mini-holiday at my grandparents' too. She lives in the middle of the only real forest in the Netherlands - a beautiful place, and great to rest, get away from the busy city life and enjoy autumn! I'll post something about the stay itself later!

It was about one and a half week before Samhain but it was the ideal place to celebrate, so that's what I did. I'm going to attend a group celebration this Sunday but for me, last week was my 'real' Samhain, or, the Pagan new year.

I started out with a long walk at dawn, taking my camera and tripod to take some pictures in the woods, to experiment with them later. I found a lovely double tree with beautiful fungi on them. It reminded me of some kind of portal to the spirit world. As some of you might know, Samhain is the time that the spirit world merges with ours. I could not resist to take some pictures. I tried different edits too.

On my walk I was also looking out for a nice spot to carry out my personal ritual. After about an hour of walking I found the most beautiful flat tree stump, with its roots still firmly in the ground. It was perfect!

I laid out my circle and started collecting some 'treasures' I found around the stump, to put in my ceremonial bowl; some moss, twigs, mushrooms and leaves. All beautiful, just as the forest around me!

I started out with a meditation and a thank you. This year has started out quite horribly due to the massive winter depression I had last winter, but I think I have never experienced as much personal growth as I had the past year. I am grateful for so many things!

Due to the practice of dressing up for Samhain I wore a wig for the ceremony. It was so early in the morning on a Monday so I was all alone and loved it! I had the opportunity to dance and sing and do anything I wanted without the restrictions of people watching you (which always makes me uncomfortable).

At the end of the ceremony the sun came through the clouds and it was utterly perfect. I think I stayed there for hours (I lost my track of time!), enjoying and celebrating life, the end of the beautiful summer and preparing for the upcoming winter.

Winter will probably again pose for lots of difficulties as I have a hard time with winter depressions. I'm going to do my best to stay positive and spend lots of time with my family and friends. I hope they can bring back the light in my life when winter takes it away.

When I left I laid out the treasures I collected in a small circle and left it at the stump, as a reminder of the best ceremony I ever had. I hope I can visit my grandparents again soon!

Love, Jopie

Monday, 6 October 2014

Happy Outfit: Blue, Mint and Roses

Last Sunday I went to Vintage Per Kilo with my boyfriend. It's a vintage clothing market held about once a month, on walking/biking distance from my house. As the name suggests, it contains heaps of vintage clothing, shoes and bags for 15€ per kilo. There are large scales where you can weigh your stuff to see if you keep within budget, and there's always a small canteen where you can sip on your cup of tea afterwards. It takes a bit of searching, but there's always some nice stuff there for crazy cheap!

This sweater and skirt are what I bought yesterday. I'm usually not really into high necks and denim, but this looks pretty cute, doesn't it?

With a petticoat underneath and some killer shoes this is a perfect fall combination!

I surprisingly enough really love the skirt. I don't really like denim myself; I own 1 pair of jeans and to be honest I can't remember when I've worn them for the last time. But this skirt is super cute. I love the pockets, the buttons and the white lace!

The shoes are also new and something special! I've never owned anything with such huge platforms. I got the shoes at a super cute shop in Amsterdam called Madchique. They are actually a spinoff from the shop where I work, but they are more focused on clothing and they sell the most gorgeous shoes.

Don't you just love those fluffy flowers on top?

Makeupwise, I went with mint, teal and dark blue eyeshadows from Boozy Cosmetics 120 palette. On my lips I gently blotted a vibrant matte pink Rimmel lipstick.

The necklace was one I already had but it broke. I fixed it today! I bought it at Fantasyshop Chimera.


Sunday, 5 October 2014

Happy Outfit: Family

Hi guys! Another outfit post here, because they're fun!

Today's outfit is centered around my family! I really love my family and they'll always be dear to me.

 I sometimes give my clothes to my mom and grandma for an 'upgrade'. The blouse was embroidered by my grandma and the flowers on the skirt were made by my mom! The tights are by No Guts, No Glory and the shoes are by Miss L Fire.

I really love the skirt, it's thick wool and therefore ideal to wear in autumn weather! I bought the skirt at a flea market for 2€ and let my mom work her magic on it. I love the felt flowers my mom made on it; it really makes this dull grey tartan skirt pop!

The blouse is really something special! It needs lots of closeups to show the detail. I left this vintage blouse at my granny's last Easter. I got it back last week with these absolutely stunning butterflies and flowers on it. The butterflies were inspired by Japanese embroidery.  I wore it to work straight away and got lots of compliments. I really appreciate all the work and love she put into this and I think it's absolutely beautiful. I think I'm going to wear this a lot! It's also great for layering under dresses for the upcoming cold weather.

This is also one of the rare days that I wear 'nude' lipstick. My boyfriend thought it would be nice to ditch the red/pink lip once in a while so I went out with him and we picked out a lipcolor that was closest to my own skin. I'm still getting used to it, but I kind of like it. It goes well with a dark smokey eye. Since I also consider my boyfriend to be family you could say that this entire outfit came true with the help of my family!

The lipstick is by Estée Lauder and my eyes were done with the Boozy Cosmetics 120 palette.
My necklace is from Fantasyshop Chimera.


Monday, 22 September 2014


Today I celebrated Mabon, or, the autumn equinox. It's a Pagan tradition, celebrating the moment that day and night are equals. It's a moment of reflection, and of preparing for the dark times ahead, but it's also a harvest celebration, so food plays a big part in it!
I planned on celebrating with a group of others, but unfortunately the meeting was cancelled so I had to think of something myself.

I settled with a small made-up ritual in the nearby park and took some pictures afterwards, for fun and for my blog!

I set up a small circle with a wooden plate filled with vegetables in front of me. I wanted to buy specific ones but I didn't have time to so I just grabbed some stuff I had lying in my fridge.

Around me I put four plates with something to represent the four elements - water for water, stones for earth, a candle for fire and incense for air.

I started out with a small thank you to the world. I'm really happy that things have gone better financially this year and I'm thankful that I've always had enough to eat. I was very poor last year when I lost my job and I can clearly envision the coin counting and having to live off as little as possible. I'm thankful that I don't have to do that anymore. The basket of vegetables therefore symbolizes the plenty that I've had this year and the plenties that are hopefully to come.

Mabon is also a time of reflection. The day and night are equals and it's time to prepare for the dark times that come ahead. It's difficult for me. I have always been very sensitive to winter depressions and now that this year has been such a wonderful year of personal growth, I'm a bit afraid to look forward to the winter. 

However, light cannot exist without dark and in order to get better and overcome my personal fears and anxieties I will have to embrace my dark side as well as my light side. That is also the reason I'm wearing a black dress (which is by Black Milk Clothing). It also made me think about what my therapist said. She advised me to start 'collecting nuts' for the winter and made a reference to squirrels, who collect their food in a time of plenty to save for winter. I have been trying to 'collect' my own nuts to survive the winter, in a form of long term creative projects that will keep me busy in the dark days. 
I like to dress up for a celebration, just like I like to dress up every day. I like to wear a beautiful but comfortable dress (comfort is a must when meditating!) and decorate my hair with colours of the season. I'm wearing a triskilian on my forehead to symbolize the sun and to counter the blackness of my dress (which is not even entirely black but has a sheer burnt out design!). No dark is truly dark, and no light is truly light.

After the ritual, of course, food! Let's not forget that Mabon is also a harvest celebration. I made a raw vegan salad with kale, baby tomatoes, avocado, almonds and various seeds. I finished the ritual by eating it in the circle and then cleaning everything up. As a final thing, I scattered some seeds, to symbolize the collecting of the nuts and giving some of them back to nature.

I'd like to finish this by saying: Nature is my religion.