The difference between a house and a home in more than one way!
In my last blog I was talking about the winter weather here in southern Spain with high summer-like temperatures. The month of December was extremely warm which was great for tourists, but not so good for the land as it still needs a lot of rain.
I will also start with the weather in this blog, because boy it's nippy here! True winter has finally arrived and although it still hasn't rained nearly enough, we have had quite a few pretty cold, and I mean coats, hats, scarves and for some even gloves and winter boots cold days. Even most tourists have had to give in and leave their flip-flops and shorts at home (apart from a few diehards) as some days the cold wind is just a bit too much. With temperatures somewhere between 7 and 15 degrees Celsius it's quite a shock to the system, but luckily we have a wonderful pellet stove in our home and the lovely live flame is creating a welcoming atmosphere and temperature.
When we renovated the old house just before we got married, three and a half years ago, I insisted in getting a pellet stove. I had previously rented a house with such a stove and I knew what lovely heat they give out and also, once the initial investment has been forgotten, how cheap they are to run and, what I really like, they are Eco-friendly. So I'm a happy bunny as I like to be environmentally aware.
I must admit that I do not understand many Spanish people who don't have any form of heating in their house, like my husbands direct family. Some do have just a tiny fire hazardous stove beneath a round table covered by a table cloth that goes down to the floor, so you end up with burning hot feet whilst your ears and nose are freezing cold. Many just cover themselves in layers or keep busy and when they do sit down, for women the nylon morning gown is the solution, on top of the other layers of clothes of course and the men just seem to wear a winter coat indoors. Oh yes, I've asked them why live without a heating and was told..."Winter isn't that long in southern Spain, so why bother".
I disagree and many expats who've settled here were shocked when they spent their first winter here. The houses are cold as most of them are built to keep the sun out. Many Spanish are so used to keeping the sun out that they even do so during the winter months and instead of letting the sunshine enter their windows, thus heating up the house, they prefer to keep all the shutters closed. It baffles me but, if that's the culture, then I of course respect that. Doesn't mean I have to live that way. It did take some convincing to get my husband to buy a pellet stove when we renovated the house, as he had always survived the winters without a heater, but he reminds me every year how grateful he is and he's totally fallen in love with our stove. It has turned our house into a cosy home.
When you have a nice warm house to get back to, it's a real joy to walk the dog along the sea front in the cold sea breeze. I needed that as well.... as the first week of January was a bit of a tough time for me. I had put so much energy in writing blogs, sorting out my art, creating my Buddha-inspired mono-prints and tweeting about my blogs, spreading information about my art classes and blogs on Facebook and other social media sites that it all became a bit too much. Overwhelmed, somewhat depressed perhaps, I don't know, but I felt crap, disappointed in myself, frustrated, feeling I had not enough time and as if I was always running behind the facts. I needed a break. Now, going on a holiday isn't an option, but no reason to complain about that if you live in a holiday destination seaside village.
So I had to take a few steps back and I can guarantee you that it was very difficult for me. I always do something. Not a day has gone past, literally these past few years, including Sundays, that I didn't work on something from my 'priority list', such as writing a story or a blog post, starting my next book, creating a few moremandalas, working on my latest series of paintings, increasing my presence on social media to promote my blogs, my books and my art, studying strategies through books and online webinars on how to get my work to be seen by people, how to get my books and art sold. I was working on sorting out my own website, my art on the Saatchi onlinewebsite, my authors page in Amazon, my work in RedBubble, my weekly blog for the Cirkel van Compassie, a Dutch website that promotes holistic living, writing articles and a weekly newsletter for the LaHerradura-Cultural magazine, writing my Spanish adventure blog, organise workshops and art classes ... I bet you get tired just from reading about all these projects! So did I!
But what do you do when you get a bit overwhelmed? Well, relax and in my case, meditate, watching inspiring speakers or a nice documentary or film, walking Miki, our bouncy ball doggy, and some evenings Miguel, my husband, and Fani our bull-mastiff as well. Getting the fresh air in my face and most of all, detaching myself from the outcome. So that's what I've done and I feel a lot better. Oh don't get me wrong. That to-do-list continues to exist but in a far slower pace and without the priority attached to it. I do what I fancy doing and make sure I take care of myself.
And the result. Funny enough it seems as if I have more time than I had before. I feel relaxed and the writing is flowing again. I'm not putting myself under any pressure anymore. Painting is actually good for me as it relaxes me, so that's a plus. I feel happy and let go of my attachment to and hopes for the outcome. Whatever will come my way will be OK.
All this doesn't mean that I've lost my passion and please feel free to read my blogs. My latest art blog is about what art can do for your house. I believe it's literally the difference between a house and a home. So there you go! :-)
If you are interested to find out more about me as a writer and an artist I invite you to visit my website www.renatevannijen.com where you can also read my art blog or my books blog. You can subscribe for free and will receive two chapters of my book 'Cheers', which I'm currently blogging about as it is a book that brings awareness to a worldwide problem and helps people getting out of isolation.
Click the following link for my Art Blog
Click the following link for my Cheers Blog