Just over 6 years ago my husband and I decided to leave Croatia. The reasons were many; a generally negative environment and a lack of work and finances are, of course, just some of the factors necessary for a decent life. The beginning was challenging despite the great desire that motivated us to leave. The big change was our separation, which lasted 6 months. After daily life together, for the next 6 months we would meet once a month. Right around that time I found out that I had an autoimmune disease – Hashimoto. I had to start taking therapy, I felt the fear of the unknown, Euthyrox side effects (drug for Hashimoto I had to take), of my husband not being there with me. Two big changes and news in my life, after years of living in monotony.
Still, something good happened from all of that; after years of doctor’s convincing that my anxiety and panic attacks were a problem in my head, now I began to doubt it. I had a motive to learn more, to educate myself, to read, to study relevant sources… Although endocrinologists assured me that diet did not affect my condition and that it would not change anything, I still decided that I had nothing to lose and I started to apply everything I used to studied for months.
The first step is always the hardest
6 months after my husband left I gathered all my energy and courage (despite the great desire to leave Croatia it was not easy considering all the health challenges) and I went to the Netherlands. This was the biggest and best step I’ve made thus far. This proved to be true even more later. So, another big change in a very short time, but I was happy because my husband and I were together. After two months, our puppy, until then dog-sitted by my parents, joined us. We were finally together as a family.
Now a new life was to be started in a foreign country, far from familiar people, the three of us alone. We could only rely on each other. And this cognition has brought us closer, strengthened us and empowered us in a completely different way. At the time, I had been on a diet change for several months and my therapy dosage became too high. Even then, the doctors assured me that I was not feeling sick from therapy, that I needed to continue with the same dose. And I did untill I got so sick that I ended up on the emergency.
I have learned to listen to my body
Only small hormonal changes affected me to such an extent that it impaired my quality of life. Then I realized that I had to learn to listen to my body on my own, and that’s what I did. My antibodies decreased so much with my diet that they were almost gone. I reduced my dose of Euthyrox and started to feel better with time. So what the doctors were saying was not correct in my case.
Nutrition is very important and I hope that health awareness will start to change at last. Don’t think it was easy to just cut and give up the food that I normally ate until then. It took a lot of persistence and a change of mind-set to endure. It affects one’s daily life, especially if you travel a lot. I had to learn how to organize and plan meals differently. And I have to admit, sometimes it’s very tiring. But I had a goal in mind – my health. And now I’m happy because I eat the way I should have always been – healthy!
How I have changed my diet
Huge decisions that directed our future lives
In the meantime, life was moving on; we bought an apartment in Rotterdam – something that could have not been imagined while we were in Croatia. The lawyer involved in the sale told us back then: You are very brave buying an apartment in a foreign country and you even do not know the language (namely, in the Netherlands we had no problem because everyone speaks English, but the administration is in Dutch).
As time went by, our confidence was rising. The changes motivated us to keep going, to explore, to take more risks, to push our boundaries. I enrolled in a study at a Slovenian private college – DOBA. The classes were held online and that was ideal for me. I could study from wherever I wanted. This new experience has revealed new insights for me. I really liked online assignments, communicating remotely with my team and professors. I also learned something new about myself – I am disciplined and persistent. I have gained new knowledge and competences and a little bit more confidence. And I have to say that college saved me. My husband worked, I was alone with the dog and this obligation, which took me sometimes 8 hours per day, was my salvation, my full time job.
Fear was overwhelming
After three years, we were given the opportunity to move to Italy. The Netherlands, although being a well organized country, was not suited for our lifestyle. We knew we wouldn’t stay there if we were given another business opportunity. And the opportunity came. When you are not satisfied with your current situation – look further, do not wait for something to change by itself. Because it won’t. You have to act.
I must admit that I was scared of Italy because I was convinced that nowhere could it be as easy to live with a dog as in the Netherlands. The Netherlands was a big change after Croatia in terms of animal treatment.So, we were again in for a change, a big moving, looking for a decent apartment, a new doctor, vet, shops …
Tuscany stole my heart
And again – the best decision ever. Don’t let you prejudice stop you! Italy is the most beautiful thing that has happened to us. It’s so easy to live in Italy with pets!
We lived in Tuscany by the sea. Could it be better? Not likely. My biggest fear was quickly gone. Dogs are considered family members, they can go everywhere – shops, restaurants, cafes, hospitals, most grocery stores! Yes, exactly! The Netherlands is always referred to as the country most accessible to dogs, but this is not true. In the Netherlands, in fact, you can hardly go anywhere with a dog. Italy, or better say Tuscany, has proven to us that we have been deceived in our fear and prejudice.
Awakening from a wonderful dream
Regarding my autoimmune disease, by then I had already become an ‘expert’ for my body, I was feeling well, much better than before. The anxiety disappeared, my confidence continued to grow. We were very proud of all that we have achieved by then. We found friends and I can safely say family, in that foreign country that was closer to me now than my home country. The quality of life was incomparable. We enjoyed every day.
The project my husband worked on was completed and now he had to find another job. There were no job for him in Italy and we had to go back to the Netherlands, which is full of work opportunities.
We returned heavy hearts as Toscana became our second home and great love.
We moved to a southern province where life and people are completely different from one in Rotterdam. So, we were again in for a change. We moved 6 times in two years because we couldn’t find a decent apartment. We didn’t like the climate or people, but we got used to it.
We were longing for life in Tuscany, I must admit.
Still, even though we had never reconciled ourselves to living in that small town in the Netherlands, we took the most of it. Again we took the risk, sold the apartment in Rotterdam and bought a new one as an investment. And it was a very good decision because of the good economic situation in the Netherlands. Now I know, if we hadn’t come to the Netherlands again, none of this would have happened, which means a lot to us now. If we had not taken that opportunity, we would not have seen the north of France, Luxembourg, Belgium… These two years have ultimately pushed us closer to what we aspire to: financial independence and working online, to be able to live where we want, not to depend of work. As changes were happening, so did change our desire and motivation. Since we did not want to stay in the Netherlands, my husband quit his job and accepted a job in Spain.
In the meantime, I have learned to live with the changes Hashimoto brings, I have changed my life habits and adapted them to our lifestyle. Now I am enjoying completely different things. I know myself and my body better and it’s a big step for me.
Before moving to Spain, we were visiting Tuscany … and we get caught by the Corona
At the end of my studies, with only a few subjects till the end, I worked hard to complete my master’s thesis. Just at that time, my dad, who had been suffering from cancer for five years, did not recover after surgery. I received my master’s degree and went through a great loss – I experienced stressful situations in the short term. But … long ago, change became
an integral part of my life, though this one was hard to accept.
Although we had enough of moving constantly, we were looking forward to going to Spain. My husband started working remotely for the Spanish project. We decided to go to Tuscany and enjoy it until time comes to move again. We spent 4 months in our little town in Tuscany, and at the same time, while we were preparing for a short trip to Croatia before moving, Corona happened. We returned a few days before the borders were closed.
Now we are all trapped in this new situation; we are affected by the health, social and economic crisis, but I have learned that change is inevitable anyway; big or small, nice or ugly, but always stressful.
Nature refuses to give up. So do I.
If you think better, change is, in fact, natural. And nature is constantly changing, which is why we enjoy it so much. Personally, change serves me to push personal boundaries and to grow further. There is no growth without change. In most situations we decide what step we should take in life, and this prepares us to more easily adapt to unexpected changes such as the one we are going through at the moment.
Maybe this situation will bring better in humans, maybe we will start to appreciate nature, animals… and we will not act like we are omnipotent and untouchable. Nature has already shown in this short time that it has already begun recovering from human influence. Nature refuses to give up.
So as I. Because of that now I’m one step closer to my goal. But I also have new goals that again require getting out of the comfort zone.
Foto: osebni arhiv
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