Today is my jet lag, get caught up day.  I woke up at the Cape from the deepest sleep ever and started listing off the things I needed to get done today.



Food shop

Check eyebrows, pluck strays

Do nails

Teeth whitening

Mosturizing facial mask

Deep condition my hair

Get some ointment on my nose for the tissue scarring.  See if cover up will make it less visible.

Root touch up.

Shave, tons to catch up on

Self tanner – full body covering

Check upper lip hair to see if it’s time to bleach

Check condition of feet blisters, touch up toe nail polish until I have time for a pedicure.  Make sure scarring isn’t noticeable in work shoes.

Don’t forget to order the leg spanx I have on my Amazon list.

This was what I thought about on my drive home.  And I was annoyed with myself because of it.  All I really wanted to do was eat the Gouda and French bread I picked up from the Suprmarket and top it off with one piece of really good chocolate.  I also remembered walking in Bruges with my body hurting and so horribly sick wishing I could be a simpler person and be beautiful that way,  I realize there is upkeep we all need but the amount of time spent on it really seems too much.  When I have “free” time after work, I am spreading out across the weeknights my fitness, hair appointments, Pedicures, eyebrow waxing and researching beauty products – adding ideas to my Amazon lists.  I search Pinterest for hair styling ideas and low calorie cooking recipes.  I sometimes have to buy ankle, knee and hamstring supporters to keep working out.  I am frequently wearing ankle bandaging while still wearing heels at work.

What do I do all this for?  Sure, it makes me feel good to be put together.  Confidence makes a difference.  But am I trying to look younger for work?  Why?  Age discrimination kicked in quite awhile ago for me there so why do I care if my roots are showing?  To attract a man?  Oh that ship sailed long ago too.

While driving home, I made some mental compromises.  I would definitely neaten up my nails because they are pretty ragged and I would moisturize my face because it’s pretty dehaydrated.  Laundry – still had to be done.  Then I wondered if I would be able to hold myself to this and leave the eyebrow plucking alone.  What would people think if they got up close and saw I was a little out of order?

I was emptying out the trunk when somehow, I managed to slice open the side of my nose with my car key,  I was gushing blood all over myself and instead of wondering how big the cut was, I thought “does this mean I can’t use the moisture mask today?”

It was in that moment I realized my neck and shoulder didn’t hurt.  They hurt every single day and I didn’t even notice that pain had stopped.  I then remembered the last zit that started was before vacation.  No new ones appeared while I was gone.  And that constant stomach gurgling, churning, bloat, gassiness I am used to every day – not a hint of it the entire time I was gone.  Yet, I ate whatever I wanted.  Yeah, I got nasty blisters and butt pain from hustling hard and walking marathons all day but anyone would had they been going at my pace…refusing to bring gym sneakers (at Kris Ann’s urging) because I didn’t want to look too American or not match my outfits.  And yes, by this time last Wednesday I had bought new gym sneakers in Amsterdam and by Saturday was wearing them with a dress.

I spent very little time focused on my appearance on vacation.  It would have taken too much time away from proper sleep and sightseeing.  I didn’t care what I looked like.  I cared about my blisters breaking open and getting infected because it could slow me down.  I got so sick from a sinus infection, I spent even less time caring and just needed to make sure I had enough Kleenex to get through the day and not miss anything.  I wasn’t shopping for beauty products.  I was learning about culture, people, churches, food, thousands of years ago sopping it all in like bread and Flemish beef stew because it was too good to leave even a streak on the plate.

And why was I able to eat pastries, cheese, chocolate, fries with mayo, , beer, bolognese, stews, pancakes and not once feel sick, bloated or gassy?  That light bulb clicked last night when Kris Ann sent me an article about the focus Denmark is making on ensuring their foods don’t have GMOs which is common with the Dutch and Belgians too.  Bingo!  The food they were preparing over there was in its natural state.  I am certain the first 3 ingredients of everything I ate were all natural – no preservatives.  I didn’t even use aspertame over there like I do here with my coffee.  I had a hard enough time finding decaf, I didn’t care if the only choice I had was to use real sugar.  Not like I gained weight or didn’t feel well.  And remember how I was getting headaches every day in the afternoon?  Not one while I was away.

I am sure you could argue I was on vacation and stress free but not true.  I was traveling internationally, by myself, while terrorist attacks were happening in nearby cities.  I had heavy itineraries, concern about the money I was spending, finding places to eat and drink near hotels to ensure safety, making sure I wasn’t out at dark alone, navigating city to city travel, trying to not get mugged and walking 3 cities while trying not to get lost which happened frequently in Amsterdam.  I had situations where I was acutely aware I was being disliked for being American or looked at oddly for dining alone.  I got incredibly sick and worried about navigating hospitals and medication in a foreign country.  I had to buy medicines whose boxes I couldn’t translate.  I came back to my hotel room in Brussels one day to find the tv on and the window open to which they told me someone had been in to check something electrical.  When I walked onto the balcony later I saw a cigarette butt.  I checked under the bed, secured the balcony window, checked the closets and everything was fine but try getting a good night sleep after that!  This was not a hammock and pina colada vacation.

Nevertheless, it was an outstanding vacation.  I desperately want it to change me in some way.  Maybe it already has or maybe it’s more of a cumulative thing which will happen as I add the trips on over the years.  I experienced so much that the little downloads will probably drop in randomly for a long time to come.  I feel like I learned quite a bit and I deeply feel that returning to work and my routines will cause me to unlearn all of it.  I learned how Heineken is made and has become an experience.  I have learned what to look for in chocolate if you want the best which is also healthy.  I can even identify different notes or spices influencing it.  I learned how to properly drink a beer.  Maybe I have been doing it right all along but I didn’t notice it.  Now I get in the moment and pay attention to doing it right.  I learned a lot about tulips so I can appreciate them more than just being a pretty add to the table.  I can identify authentic pottery, not that I need to.  It’s just cool to be able to look for it.  I even have educated opinions on prostitution.  Believe it or not, all this stuff is important because it comes from experiencing life…something none of us really knows how to do.

I want to figure out how to get back to checking the first three ingredients of what I buy to be sure they are natural and not buy anything which doesn’t follow that but there is still a bunch of crap in that stuff which shouldn’t be there.  But I am excited to try.  I want my digestive system to feel the way it does right now which is that it feels nothing.  I just feel so simple so I know it’s possible.

Once I cleaned up the cut on my nose I resigned myself to knowing it will be visible at work tomorrow.  I did my laundry and started unpacking.  I also grabbed a green trash bag and tossed a ton of beauty and hair products out.  It was scary because I do count the dollars I spent on them as I toss them but told myself those could be dollars I don’t spend in the future which could help with travel savings going forward.  And next time I travel, I don’t need the tweezers, sunless tanner, hair straightener, hair putty, 3 hair brushes, 2 pairs of gap pants I never wear, converse sneakers, shaving cream and bathing suit cover up.