Monday, July 22, 2013

My new blog!

I have finally done it!

I bought my very own domain name and created a new website + blog!

Please visit: 

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Couleur Café

I had never been to a music festival here in Belgium. I hate crowded + loud concerts, so I avoided them. I know it can be fun and I love live music, but I never thought it was worth the stress.

Couleur Café was different, though. All our friends who had gone last year told us how cozy and laid-back it was and they were right. There were many stages and lots of people, but it was ok (except for the Mackelmore concert, of course).

Throughout the three days, we saw:
Trixie Whitley, Aloe Blacc, Skip the Use, Wycleff Jean, Jimmy Cliff, Zaz, Andy Allo, Mackelmore & Ryan Lewis, Mos Def, Die Antwoord and CeeLo Green.

I didn’t know most of them, only Jimmy Cliff, Mackelmore and CeeLo Green. Jimmy’s show was my favorite – the energy, the songs, and his presence on stage. It was really fun and I was amazed by the 65 year old party man! He really delivered a joyful concert.

Aloe Blacc was SO smooth and sexy!

Skip the use was super upbeat and fun. One of the best.

Mackelmore’s show was over packed with hysterical fans and I got trapped in the crowd. We could barely move and the girls behind us pushed, danced with no respect for our space and were too loud. The girls in front of us almost got in a fight because one of them climbed on a guy’s shoulders and blocked the other’s view of the stage. Can’t people just listen to the music and chillax? Anyways, his show was super!

It is difficult to explain Die Antwoord, so I’ll use my friend’s words: “They’re crazy fucks!”. My jaw dropped so many times, trying to make sense of them! Buuuut, they make a good party!

I was disappointed by CeeLo Green. A bit too whiny. The best part of his show – the last of the festival – was a spontaneous flash mob: a guy was dancing and really enjoying himself when people behind him started copying his moves. The crowd got bigger and bigger and we even joined for a while. Teehee!

Aaaaaand! I can’t forget to mention the FOOD HALL! OMG, delicious food from everywhere! South American, African, Japanese, Thai, Lebanese, Tibetan, Moroccan… There were also big tents were they served fresh mint tea and we could sit on puffs and carpets. Next year they should really have a Brazilian food stand as well as Belgian fries. Oh, and better beer and cocktails (they were made from bottled juice, bleh!).

The festival gathered so many beautiful people of every color, style, age and culture having a great time in peace. It reminded me that I must stop comparing myself to others, because we are all unique.

Friday, June 21, 2013

What do you want to be when you grow up?

That’s one of the questions that have been messing around my mind since I was a kid. I remember saying I wanted to be an actress, so that I could pretend being lots of other things. Indecision right there. I also remember me thinking how unfair the world was and I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to give a decent house and food for everyone. There’s more: I liked to imagine how I would fix my hometown, creating a clean, happy place to live.

I was always a good student, getting high grades and never failing my exams, but I never understood why we had to study stuff like complicated math, chemistry, physics. I wanted to learn first aids, cooking, driving and other useful subjects. I loved my history, language and literature classes.

When the time to choose my major came, I had no idea what I wanted to be. My choices were limited: I had to choose among the courses my local University offered. So I went through the brochure once again, crossing out what I definitely didn’t want: Medicine, Dentistry, Nursery, Law, Physical Education, IT and all that. I ended up applying for English Language and Literature and got first place on the exam. I didn’t really want to be a teacher, but I loved English, reading and writing.

On my second year at Uni, I started teaching and I did it well, but I didn’t love it. I graduated and decided I had to do something new. I needed a change or I would get stuck on that life. I knew I could do better. And so I left home and became an Au Pair.

I really believed that the time abroad, the adventure, the learning-more-about-myself thing would finally give me THE answer I needed. And I would be all “Aha! I know what I want to be when I grow up!”.

I wasn’t totally wrong. I did learn a lot about myself and life, but I realized that being absolutely certain about what you’re supposed to do is not that easy. However, as I talked to friends I saw that they had the same feeling and I read a lot about the mid-twenties crisis. These are indeed hard times, when you have to take control and responsibility over your life. When you have to make decisions for the future and take important steps towards it. When you “have to” do a lot of stuff you’re “supposed to”.


I’m 27 and I just moved back to Belgium to start building a brand new life. I’m not a teacher anymore. I’m not an Au Pair anymore. I’m just me for now. Sometimes it makes me nervous to have such a blank page in front of me. I don’t even know how the next few months are going to be. Other times, though, I feel grateful and excited for this time to learn, change, choose and create.

I have been reading blogs and e-books about creating business from your passions and living the life you love and it really resonates with me. I want to have freedom and power over my own life. I want to work when and where I like and as much as I like. I want to share and be useful and helpful. Although I have a few faint ideas on how to do that, I still have doubts. What are my gifts and passions? How can I join my education, experience and passions and make a living? What would people pay me for? 

That’s when I decided I want to be supported on this journey. I heard of a place where women are changing their lives and the world; where they are learning to share their gifts and create abundant lives. And I thought “This is totally what I need now!”

I joined Leonie Dawson’s Amazing Biz + Life Academy*. There are courses, books, videos, discussion forums and so many tools to help me figure things out. I have been brainstorming like crazy, thinking, writing, asking around… I even created my very own vision board! 

And I’ve learned to:

-          Always invest in myself. Education, books, courses, seminars. You can never know enough.

-          Do what is doable at the moment. Don’t wait for it to be perfect or it might never come.

-       Look for support! I stopped trying to solve everything myself. Often times the answer I need is not in my head.

That’s why I’m sharing this, peeps! I’ll love to connect and hear your ideas, advice, personal stories, questions, etc. Let’s pick each other’s brains!

* That is an affiliate link. It means that if you click on it and make a purchase, I get a commission. I only recommend it because I truly love it :)

Friday, June 14, 2013

My gratitude list

When I was a teenager I read the books Pollyanna and Pollyanna Grows Up. It introduced such a great concept in my life: gratitude. She suffers a lot in her life, but she plays the Glad Game – she always finds something to be glad about despite the circumstances. 

I started “playing” it too: whenever I get sad or frustrated, I mentally list things that I am grateful for. It works wonderfully!

Here is what has been supporting me against negative thoughts and feelings:

-          I am alive and healthy;
-          My body is perfect;
-          I am intelligent;
-          I am a good person;
-          I am loved;
-          I am supported;
-          I have a beautiful, loving family;
-          I live in a comfortable house;
-          I have free time to invest in learning and self-care;
-          I have good people around me.
-          I have options;
-          I am free;
-          I am not in need of anything;
-          Nobody is perfect and nobody is the same;
-          I’m on the right path;
-          I am proud of and cherish my past;
-          I am learning French and Dutch. Slowly, but I am.

And the little daily goodies:

-          I’m grateful for the good weather;
-          I’m grateful for this quiet walk in nature;
-          I’m grateful for this delicious meal;
-          I’m grateful for this nice nap;
-          I’m grateful for the internet;
-          I’m grateful for a bit of solitude and silence;

And so it goes…

Nobody said it was easy.

Facing this big life change has been challenging. 

I try to stay on top of things, positive, patient, strong. 

Deep down I believe that everything will be ok, I just have to accept that things don’t usually happen when you want them to or the way you want them to.

I feel vulnerable, emotional. I try not to cry because when the first tear comes down it’s hard to suppress the others. And since I’m already crying, let’s find all the reasons! “Oh, I’m so tired”, “I’m afraid nothing will work”, “I’m so stupid”, “I miss home”, “I feel so lonely”. And I hate it that I go down the self-pity road.

I feel self-conscious, like I should lose weight, like I’m not well dressed, like I should be speaking Dutch already! I care too much about how I’m coming across to other people. Do they think I’m good enough? Do they think I’m stupid, fat and ugly? Do they think I'm lazy?

I moved here and all I do is waiting. I don’t have a job, I don’t have my own place, I don’t have my own group of friends anymore. I feel like everything I was, I am not anymore. So exposed, so lost. I feel like I lost my value, like I am just a girlfriend and don’t have “a life”.

Many times I didn’t feel like going out and seeing people. 

I felt lazy and anxious in dealing with them.

Afraid of their judgment and tired of telling the same story and answering the same questions.

I am afraid I will always be the outsider.

Maybe this is me making drama. But they’re feelings and I am just human, I can’t really explain them. I try to forgive myself and understand that I will feel this way sometimes. It’s normal. It’s ok.

What I don’t allow myself is to sink. To hide in my bedroom and sulk. This is not who I am or who I want to be. I know this is a time for change and patience. Above all, learning.

Whenever I feel bad, I come up with my gratitude list and do something nice and kind to myself: go for a walk, watch a movie, have a glass of wine, listen to music, read a book, clean the room and light a candle, write blog posts…

I remind myself that I am strong, wise and brave. That my life is actually pretty awesome. And that I am loved and supported. And that what others think doesn’t matter. 

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Belgian Beer Festivals

Arriving at the venue in Leuven.
Beer is one of the top things that come to mind when we talk about Belgium. I’ve met tourists that came here only for tasting the special Trappist beers.

Being from Brazil, I didn’t know many different kinds. I hadn’t learned to appreciate the tastes and textures. Our relationship with beer is more like “Let’s hit the bar and have a super cold one”. There are different brands, but they’re all pretty much the same.

And then I came to this beer paradise. And learned. And have yet much to learn. My friends try to teach me about how the beers are made, why it tastes like that, etc. Over my first year here I tried and loved my beers. And chose my favorites, of course.

However, only recently I went to my first – and second – beer festival! Woohoo! Can you imagine? A kid in a candy shop!

The first one was in Leuven, just outside town in a huge market hall. All the beer stands were inside and the food stands, outside. The first impression is the size of it all. Such a big place and so many stands you can’t possibly taste them all. When you enter you buy your chips and your glass. We bought 14 chips: I had 6 beers and Rob had 8. I was too overwhelmed to make my own choice, so I went with the flow and tried whatever they would choose for me.

It also impressed me how open it is. I saw young and old people, children, pregnant women (!), tourists, dogs, whole families, beer club people wearing matching T-shirts. It is indeed a cultural thing.

The list below was composed by Robrecht. They are all the beers we both tried that day. (I appreciate beer but I can’t describe them well).

- Shark Pants: nice hoppy double Indian pale ale (triple IPA) by de Struise Brouwers; (Rob's favorite)
- Hoppa hontas: as its name suggests, also an Indian pale ale. Hoppy and fresh by Brouwerij Maenhout;
- Jessenhofke: tasty brown organic beer by Brouwerij Jessenhofke; (Ana's favorite)
- Saison Dupont: nice fruity and spicy Saison-style beer from Brasserie Dupont;
- Turnhoutse Patriot: patriotistic Saison-style beer by de Scheldebrouwerij;
- Hof ten Dormaal barrel aged: very smooth and tasty beer, aged to perfection in old oak barrels. (A bit too sweet for me, Ana)
- Rio Reserva: nice quadruppel by de Struise Brouwers with a rich and complex palate;
- Framboise De Cam: a fine raspberry lambic by Geuzestekerij De Cam in Gooik. Tart, smooth and fruity;
- Schuppenaas: The ace of spades, rich and tasty amber beer by Brouwerij Het Nest;
- Kleveretien: The ten of clubs, black and strong beer by Brouwerij Het Nest;
- Brouwersverzet oud bruin: nice tart and fruity sour-red (oud bruin) style beer. Typical for this style of beers are the tastes of red fruit;
- Rebel local: rebellious Indian pale ale by Het Brouwersverzet.

The second festival was much smaller and cozy. We sat at a table and were served. We bought big bottles and shared among us four. We forgot to take notes, but I remember we had a very good Geuze, a raspberry beer, a cherry beer and the only one I didn’t like was made with prunes (it tasted like prune juice with too much water in it).

I look forward to the upcoming festivals - even the Toer de Geuze, where they rode their bikes all day going from brewery to brewery!

Drinking beer back home will never be the same…