Happy 2018 everyone!
I hope you all survived New Year’s Eve and had a spectacular time ringing in the new year with your friends and family. Even if you stayed in and watched Netflix all night like we did. I hope you enjoyed it to the max, because 2017 will never come back. This past week I had the time to fully reflect on the past year and I feel so good about it. I am ready for a brand new start in 2018, how about you guys?
2017 was an amazing year for me with lots of travel, adventures, meeting great new people from all over the world, learning how to work on my relationship with my fiance Emiel and doing a few fantastic collaborations for the blog. Although 2017 was a great year on lots of levels, it also had low moments. It was in these moments I found strength I never thought possible. So let me tell you what I learned in 2017 and what I will change for myself in the new year ahead.
1: Traveling & Different Cultures
Travel just tops the list in 2017. We already traveled to Indonesia very frequently in the last three years. By the end of 2016, we decided to move to Indonesia for six months to start our own business. Traveling is fantastic! I climbed waterfalls, went island hopping on a small boat, stood on top of Mount Batur in Bali and visited the grave from a real rajah on The Kei islands.
On the other hand, I learned that living abroad and dealing with a totally different culture was challenging.I am a very open-minded free spirit and used to living in the Western part of the world. I have lived in Amsterdam, London, and Los Angeles all my life. I love the freedom women enjoy in the West, so I had a hard time adapting to the more conservative Asian culture, Especially in the more rural areas of Indonesia like the Kei islands where my grandparents are from. I tried to please everyone by changing myself do their expectations, beliefs, and standards.
The result was that I completely lost myself, felt anxious and stressed out. In October 2017 everything changed when I explained to my Indonesian family that while I would still remain very respectful of their culture, I have to stick to who I am. Our ways in Western Europe are completely different when it comes to religion, marriage and female rights.
If they expected me to stay in the kitchen all day and cook for Emiel, it can’t happen, because I work an online job too. Emiel is a better cook than me anyway, so Emiel and I both love to cook. Something that is very strange in Indonesia. No man works in the kitchen in their opinion. It definitely raised a few eyebrows, but I learned that staying true to myself is key when being away from home for such a long time. The interesting thing is that I noticed that everyone started to accept me for who I am, and also who we are as a couple. It really felt good sticking up for myself.
2: My Relationships
Early 2017, I had to let go of some toxic people on my path and focused a lot on my relationship with my fiance Emiel, my son Lyon and my parents and close family and friends. I also made an effort to be open to making new friends along the way and getting to know my Indonesian family better I learned, that by giving the people close to me their space and freedom to express themselves, they would naturally gravitate to me more.
This meant not going into a fit when Emiel wants to play video games on a Saturday, which is his way to relax and being patient when my son Lyon doesn’t reply to my Whatsapp for over 24 hours. The result is lots of love and special quality time when they would come around again. I really liked making that change this year. I definitely became better at being patient. I want to be someone my loved ones want to be near, instead of me forcing them to spend time with me going shopping on a busy Saturday. Heck who wants to go shopping on a busy Saturday anyway? Let people be and don’t expect so much from them, I find that it really works on building better relationships and at the end, you get way more in return.
In 2017, I didn’t work as much on this blog than in the previous years. Because of our travels, I was able to collaborate with some fabulous resorts and hotels in Bali and create a few extensive travel guides on the blog for you guys. These projects were amazing to work on and opened a completely new world to me. It was also great to meet so many people in the hotel industry and it’s definitely something I would like to continue doing in 2018. I am planning to work on this blog a lot more again and add a different concept to it that will distinguish me from the rest of the already saturated fashion blogging world. I am excited to tell you guys about it soon.
It might look like I am always lounging around on a beautiful island and looking super lazy sipping cocktails at a spectacular resort. You probably think that I don’t work, but trust me I do work. On our own business that is. The reason I didn’t work on my blog so much was that Emiel and I started a project on The Kei Islands.
After spending some time there, we decided to buy a fish platform what they call a bagan. A bagan is built solely from wood. A team of four fishermen pulls the bagan into the ocean every night. Out on the ocean, the fishermen turn on very bright lights attached to the bagan to attract the fish. The caught fish is being pulled up with huge nets. Tropical fish is the main food on these islands and it’s sold daily to the local market and factories in the area. The fish is super fresh and organic. This traditional way of fishing isn’t as bad for the environment because the fishing is done on a small scale. Another reason we started this project is that we can provide the locals great job opportunities by working on our bagans. Emiel and I are in the process of expanding our business and planning to buy more bagans in the future.
Business wise there is a lot coming up this year and also plenty of hard work for us. What I learned is that you can not do everything at once, so some things like this blog had to be put on a little bit of hold. I had to learn that it’s okay to relax and I found that my readers would still welcome me with open arms even when I didn’t post on Instagram for two weeks. I really want to thank you all for that!
My spiritual motto is to be grateful for everything you have in your life. I believe that if you practice gratitude, you will attract more things to be grateful for. I have implemented gratitude in my life and I notice how everything feels so much lighter when I do this. “What you take for granted, someone is praying for” is a quote that really stuck with me this year. I also like to practice kindness and being a trustworthy person. I firmly believe that when you do good, good things will come to you. It is so easy to become bitter, revengeful and angry nowadays, but the only one who will suffer from hanging on to those negative emotions are you and your loved ones.
About ten years ago I suffered from a major burn-out due to severe stress and work pressure when I lived in Los Angeles. It took me years to recover with some relapses along the way. Although I am in great form today and very energetic, I am still prone to stress symptoms like anxiety, stiff muscles or having trouble sleeping. I find that it’s very important to take care of my health by sometimes taking a few steps back and living in the moment. When I feel frazzled, I burn candles and incense, buy flowers and clean my house. It’s like therapy for me. Creating a warm and beautiful space works wonders for my well being.
I also picked up a new fitness regime six months ago and started eating a plant-based vegan diet. It really helps me to feel great in my own skin, because I have finally lost some stubborn weight that I have been wanting to get rid off forever. Hallelujah!
Social media is an amazing tool and if you use it wisely you can attract a very broad audience for your business or blog, meet new friends from all over the world and keep in touch with long lost friends. I love it. For me, 2017 was the year of living in the real world. It meant that I spent more time communicating with people face to face than being glued to my phone all day. It also meant that I did not make so much effort in building an online following.
Yes, I was active and yes I reached out to my followers and friends, but it’s so easy to get sucked up into the online bubble. Besides connecting with people, I also want to have lunch with my friends without constantly having to take photos of myself. Sometimes or let’s say a lot of times I wear the same skirt or dress as in one of my previous posts. No use to take pictures of them again, right? What happened was that I started liking those -being in the moment- moments. I felt less stressed every time I would go out or go do something fun. The funny thing is when I don’t force myself to take photos for either the blog or my Instagram, I start missing it and I want to do it because it started out as a passion. Then in one of those moments, there it is again. That incredible feeling called inspiration. Being inspired which made me start this blog in the first place.
So yes, I love using social media and what I also should start doing in 2018 is using Insta stories. I think I am the only one I know who hasn’t been using this feature yet. Using Insta stories is a great way to outsmart Instagram’s new algorithm, so it’s definitely a feature to look into if you are not using it yet, me myself included.
Like I mentioned before, I started a totally different work out routine and changed my diet into a ninety-five percent plant-based vegan diet. I sometimes eat a little bit of fish. Hey, I am not perfect and I am willing to make gradual changes for my health, the animals, and the global environment.
I have to say that I feel great by making these changes.
For exercise, I do strength training with weights at the local gym and at home I do High Intensity-Interval Training and exercises from YouTube fitness guru Joanna Soh. I love her quirky upbeat voice and positivity. It has made me a lot stronger and a little bit leaner the past few months.
This past year I really noticed that I can not live without doing my workouts. It has made me a much happier and healthier person. If you haven’t started working out yet, 2018 is the year to start. No excuses!
“It’s not happy people who are thankful, but thankful people that are happy.”
8: Being Back In Amsterdam Again
We dealt with quite a culture shock when we returned to Amsterdam again. The first thing we noticed is that everyone is so tall here LOL. Okay, well all jokes aside. It was very strange to be back after living the island life for so long. I miss the beaches, the warm weather when I am in Amsterdam. People in Amsterdam don’t smile as much like the Indonesians do. The cold and rainy weather isn’t helping either. Still, I love this city and being back is always great when you can have face to face conversations with your close family and friends again. I think that is the main reason I love to return again every time. I also love the freedom here. Strolling through the city and the Albert Cuyp market without a care in the world and feeling completely safe is what I love about Amsterdam. The cozy atmosphere, the foods like bitterballen, kroketjes and krentebollen are only to be found here in this amazing place.
9: Attending Events
Although I didn’t attend as many events as I wanted, I always manage to stop by Fashion Week in Amsterdam. What I learned in 2017 is that by not going to every event or party you are not really missing out on anything. Nowadays every event can be viewed on social media anyway. What I do find important is to connect with new people when attending. So my plan for 2018 is to definitely up my game when it comes to networking in person.
It’s also a great way to reconnect with friends you haven’t seen in a long time. I have also noticed how a good party can get you in a great mood and will last for days. It leaves me with tons of new energy and inspiration. Yes, a good party will be on my bucket list in the new year, although I definitely will be staying at home working on my projects too. It is all about balance right?
In October, I returned to the Kei Islands and Bali without Emiel to check the status of our bagans and to visit the Bali-Kei festival. A huge international music expo right on the beach on Ohoililir beach. For me, this trip was groundbreaking because I realized I could travel all alone to the other side of the Asian world and be totally independent when it comes to taking care of our business over there. It also means that Emiel and I can take terms traveling up and down to take care of anything that is needed.
On this trip inspiration came, leading up to some spectacular new business ideas on the Kei islands for the future. I will tell you some more about that soon, but I am extremely excited about it and this thing will be huge.
11: Shopping & Buying
One of the most important changes I made in 2017 is that I started consuming way and way less. I am still stuck with some crazy trend items from 2012 that I will never wear again and are doomed for donating to goodwill. I can’t even sell them, because who in the right mind needs it? Nowadays I choose to spend my money wisely by buying fashion items that will last for years. When I see something in a store, I think to myself: “Will I be wearing this in two years”? If the answer is no, I will not buy it.The great thing about buying less crap is that I have saved way more to travel. I think travel beats buying new clothes any day. So for me, this change was easy.Don’t get me wrong gals and boys. I still love my shopping sprees on occasion, what woman doesn’t? I am just a little bit pickier what I throw in my cart right now and it feels great.
Quote for 2018
“Have Fun, work hard, no drama”.
I just got back from Bali at the end of October and already there was another opportunity for me to return to Bali again. I received a phone call from German artist and producer Jerome Walker to feature in his new music video. I found myself on a plane back to Bali within a month and I fully took care of everything that needed to be arranged. From picking the filmmakers to buying new outfits and doing the styling.
I really noticed how I missed doing these things again and for 2018 I really want to reach out to brands to work on some more collaborations. Simply because I love the challenge and creative aspect of it.
I ended 2017 very happy and content with all my achievements and I am proud that even when it started on a rough note, I was able to turn it into a very positive year. What I did learn is that you can always change negativity into positivity by remaining focussed and working hard and believing that everything will work out at the end.
I am so ready to start 2018 with all these valuable lessons in mind you guys and I hope you are too!
What did you learn in 2017? I would love to hear about it.
Happy New Year everyone!
With love Tamara Chloé