I am back from my trip to Stockholm and I feel recharged! As I wrote about last week, I’ve been feeling homesick for a while and booked a last minute trip to Sweden. Only a short visit, but it was so lovely! It truly recharged me. I really loved it and tried to stay mindful of every minute I was there.
Being homesick is a horrible feeling. It slowly crept up on my until one day I felt like I really couldn’t take it any longer and I almost had a panic attack. I’m so thankful that my husband knows exactly how it feels and is very understanding.
I desperately needed to see my brother, his family and my best friend, who I’ve known for 28 (!!) years. I needed to walk the streets of my hometown, speak my native language and feel like a swede, if only for just a couple of days.
And I managed to cram it all in, and I am so grateful that I did.
I got to:
pick up my 4 year old nephew from pre-school and feel like a proper aunt. (when my other nephew and niece, who are now in their twenties, were little, I was around all the time. So not being able to see my little nephew as often as I’d like is really hard)
spend hours playing with him without distractions.
spend time with my brother and his family
see and catch up with my adult nephew and niece
spend quality time with my best friend
watch Swedish tv. ( I know I can watch some programmes here in the UK, but it’s not the same, and I would also not have anyone to share my “swedish-ness” with)
catch up with my step-mum
go for walks around Stockholm. Some might say that November is not be the best time of year to go there, and although I’m willing to agree, to me it was perfect. There was a hint of christmas in the air, and I got to see some christmas displays, drink the Swedish christmas drink “Glogg” (the nordic version of mulled wine) and eat gingerbread biscuits and saffron buns (which are christmas treats to us Swedes) But I’m also grateful that it wasn’t a more beautiful time of year because I would probably have had trouble leaving if that were the case. But it was still beautiful to me.
I am usually quite bad at remembering to take pictures, but this time I took lots. I wanted to remember every moment and be able to look back when ever I get homesick again.
I am grateful beyond words that I managed to go when I needed it the most.
I bought this jumper I found in a shop here in England. I have no idea why it has the word “Stockholm” on it and I don’t care. It spoke to me. I had to get it. Of course I did! I’m Swedish and lived most of my life in Stockholm, now I find it here, just when I needed it.
“Buy me” it said. “I know you miss Stockholm, and this is comfy and will keep you warm this winter while you can think back on your Stockholm days”
So I bought it.
Now I wear it all the time. Not just because it says “Stockholm” on it but also its very comfortable.
I have been living here in the UK for almost 8 years. And I can honestly say that for the first 7 of those years I never felt homesick. But then during my last trip back to Sweden in April this year I had this really strange feeling. Like I didn’t want to leave. The last day I spent the whole day fighting back the tears, and I felt an emptiness that I’ve never felt before. Lately, in the last couple of weeks, this feeling has been creeping up on me again.
I love living here in the UK and I wouldn’t want to move back, for many reasons. But I also love Sweden. It is “my” country after all.
I don’t know what had made me so homesick lately.
Maybe it’s because I knew I wouldn’t go back there for a while. We’ve just bought a house and we are short on both money and time.
I don’t quite know what I miss about it either.
Of course I miss my brother and his family. I miss my best friend. I miss my other family members and old friends.
But I also miss the things I never thought about before: Buildings, places, music, smells, food, all the water, the beauty. How different everything is over there. It’s the little things, and it all piles up.
I do miss our life there to some extent, but as I’ve written about before, that was another life to me, one I could never go back to.
But it’s as if I think about it, I can almost imagine this alternate life we could have had in Sweden had we not moved. The other me would maybe still be working as a nurse. Maybe, because our boys would still have their disabilities and difficulties they have now, and I have no idea how much help and support we would have had there. So maybe I still would have chosen to stay home.
We would still live in our house, which we loved and maybe we still would have seen our old friends regularly? Or would I have built up friendships with other autism parents as I have here?
I don’t know of course.
And there’s no point in thinking about these things because they don’t change anything.
But I get this sick feeling in my stomach whenever I listen to an old Swedish pop song from my youth.
And trust me, it’s not my youth that I miss. It’s a strange feeling.
I spent most of last week listening to old Swedish music in the car, singing along to Robyn, Kent, The Ark, The Cardigans, and a whole lot more that I hardly ever listened to or even liked when the songs were popular back in the 90s and 2000s. But now they bring back old memories and have become sentimental to me.
I’m not even really in touch with what music is popular in Sweden anymore. And not just with music, but TV, movies, celebrities, politics, news. I read stuff online every now and then, but it’s not the same.
When we first moved to England, I found it really hard to blend in. Moving countries isn’t just about the actual move, finding a house, schools and which is the best supermarket. A lot of it is the little things. How ‘the system’ works, but also about the people; Music, culture, tv programmes ‘everyone’ knows of. Who is who. An old celebrity dies and the whole country is in mourning, and I have never even heard about the person!
All these things makes you feel like a stranger. A foreigner. At the same time you loose touch with more and more things in your native country.
For a few years I felt like I didn’t quite belong anywhere. I felt completely out of touch with what was going on in Sweden, at the same time not completely integrated in England.
There are a lot of things I still don’t understand or know about this country, but I do feel at home here now. I can keep up with whats going on and who is who and how to find stuff out. Most of the time.
I feel like I belong here.
So why is it that I feel homesick? I don’t know.
I thought I was just going to have to ride this feeling out. Have a cry or two and just wait for it to go away on it’s own.
But thankfully I have an amazing husband.
Luckily he knows what it’s like to feel homesick, since he spent quite a few years living in Sweden with me. He told me to book a trip ASAP.
I started arguing that we should be saving since we are moving soon. But he didn’t budge, he told me I need it. It will ‘re-charge’ me.
So I made a few phone calls to make sure the it suited my family and friends over there, and I booked a trip for a week later! It’s the most impulsive thing I’ve done in a long time, but it feels great!
I feel so much better knowing that I’m going.
I’m going to see friends, family, eat food, walk around Stockholm and enjoy every minute of it.
Any one who knows me knows I like my wine.
I’m not a big drinker. (not the grown up me. I’m not talking about my twenty-something, partying self. Thats a whole other story)
I very rarely drink anything stronger than wine and I seldom have more than a glass or two a couple of times a week at the most.
Although at our christmas party last year I, for some reason, thought it might be a good idea to drink vodka (??!) I didn’t have much, but I got a little tipsy and had the worst hangover the day after! Never again!
I do however enjoy wine and am not willing to give that up. Not completely.
A few times a year I have a ‘white’ month when I don’t drink any alcohol.
I do it to give my body a break.
Even though I drink moderately and within a ‘healthy’ range, it is still good to give my body a chance to recover completely.
Not to mention the psychological effect of not having the option of a glass of wine at the end of the day to ‘relax’.
Alcohol is not slimming. It contains 7kcal/ gram, (compared to fat which has 9 kcal/gram, protein and carbohydrates have 4 kcal/gram each). But it’s not only the calories that are the problem. The body can not store alcohol, unlike fat, protein and carbohydrates, which means that the body prioritises getting rid of the alcohol first and puts everything else on hold, like absorbing nutrients and burning fat.
So, every few months I give my body a rest.
In the lead up to that ‘white’ month I do wonder how ever I will manage a whole month without my wine. The first weekend is always the hardest and I miss having a glass with dinner.
But then as time passes I don’t even consider it anymore.
It’s a ‘non-issue’. I stop thinking about it.
I don’t dream of the day when I can enjoy a glass again. But as the month comes to an end, I do look forward to that first sip, and I enjoy it immensely.
Richard and I decided to have a ‘white’ September this year. It’s easier when you can do it together with your partner.
Not only to give our bodies a break, but also to save a little bit of money now that we’ve bought a house. Not that we spend a huge amount on alcohol, but every penny counts…
It went really well. Like I’d predicted, the first weekend was the hardest, but then it ran smoothly. It’s almost easier to not have the option of alcohol, than to have to plan around it. Not to have to worry about who will be driving when we go out. And not have the option of a glass after a really stressful day.
Alcohol doesn’t exist.
But I don’t think I’d like to do it forever. There’s no reason a healthy person, such as myself, can’t enjoy a glass of wine every now and then.
September went so well for Richard and myself that we decided to stretch it through October as well. In total we went 63 days. But then, on Saturday we decided that we’d been very good but enough is enough. And even though technically we cheated by three days, we’d done good. 9 weeks isn’t bad.
So, wine and I are not on a break anymore. We have a very healthy relationship. Absence makes the heart and tastebuds grow fonder, and I can tell you that that first sip was delicious.
Could you take a break from alcohol? If you don’t think you could, then you absolutely should. Even if you drink within ‘moderation’.
If you think you could but don’t think you ‘need to’ because you don’t drink ‘that much’, try it anyway.
Prove to yourself that you can. Your body will thank you for it.
My husband travels sometimes for work. Not all that often, I can’t complain, but a few times a year he goes away, both within Europe and the U.S. Usually no more than a week. This time he was away in America for 11 days.
And one week was during half term holiday, which means both our boys were home with me.
Both Joshua and Harry had a few activities going on during the week, but none of them at the same time, which meant I always had at least one of my boys with me, all day, every day.
It was fine though, it gave them some much needed space from each other, and I got some quality time with each of them, which was lovely. But it also meant I had NO time to myself.
I have to say, hats of to all you single parents out there, I do not know how you do it!
I was fine, I knew this was only for a week, and then would not only my husband be back, but the boys would go back to school. So I was fine with one intensive week. But to never get a break?! I don’t think I’d cope!
I don’t think of myself as an introvert, but I do need time alone to recharge my batteries.
Being a morning person, I always make sure I’m up early enough to fit in my essentials; (meditation, 5-10min yoga and journaling.) Without these, I can not start my day. If I’m up really early, I also fit in writing or a workout, especially if I have a busy day and know I can’t fit these things in later on in the day. Usually, during holidays when boys are home, I do all this in in the morning, before Richard goes to work, so that:
A. He can be there for the boys in the morning while I get my ‘me-time’
B. I’m free to spend the rest of the day with the boys.
Things were a bit different without Richard around last week.
Harry usually ends up in our bed in the early hours of the morning. It’s one of those things we need to work on, but I’m kind of expecting him to grow out of it. Joshua used to be the same a few years ago, but eventually stopped.
Harry always goes to sleep in his own bed, but sometime during the night, don’t ask me when because I’m sleeping, he creeps in to our bed. It’s quite cosy, if not a bit crowded. So in the morning, I sneak out of bed, while Richard and Harry stay and sleep or have a little cuddle.
If Harry wakes up, and no one is in the bed, he will scream the house down. That boy is quite content on his own a lot of the time, but first thing in the morning, he needs a lot of contact.
So rather than having Harry screaming and waking up upset and then spend the next half hour trying to calm him down, I opted to stay in bed with him in the mornings. Plus, it was really cosy.
Not that we stayed in bed late, we’re talking about 7-ish here, then I made sure that he was settled with something for 10-15min so I could do my essentials, but it left no room for anything else.
As I’ve written about before, our boys don’t really socialise much with other kids, not like most kids their age anyway. They don’t go out to see friends or have friends over. Not often and not without my supervision at least. They are with me all day, every day. So between them and housework, I had no alone time. Apart from in the evening when they had gone to bed. But, being a lark, I was exhausted by the end of the day and had no energy to do anything productive. I was dating Netflix for a week.
Like I said, it was for a limited time and I’m not complaining. I love my boys and spending time with them.
But I also longed for time to myself.
So when my husband came home on the Friday afternoon, I left.
Just for an hour walk.
Of course I said Hello to him, and yes of course I’d missed him, but as soon as he was in the door I was out.
I so craved to be alone with my thoughts.
Then I came home recharged and we all spent the rest of the weekend together.
For me it was a necessity. Everyone needs time to them selves.
I love my family, and I love spending time with them. But to be able to be the best version of myself, I also need some time alone.
So me, nature and a good podcast in my ears was what I’d longed for.