Fit Five Friday and the Ultimate Coffee Date

January 2023

Not only is it the FIRST Fit Five Friday of the year, but it’s also the First Ultimate Coffee Date as well!

It’s 2023 and we’re here again; Fit Five Friday with with your FIVE amazing hosts – me, My First 5K and MoreRunning With Attitude, Runs with PugsZenaida ! Feel free to join in on the fun! And head over here to join the Ultimate Coffee Date with other amazing, supportive and friendly bloggers.

If we were having coffee…

Obviously first I would great you with a huge hug and wish you a Happy New Year! And we’d probably both chat about how the year went by so quickly! I mean, what??? and How??? And I imagine we would quickly catch up on how our New Year’s Eves went and how we are either not ready to go back to reality or that we are SO ready to have the holidays behind us so we can get back to our regular schedule!

If we were having coffee…

I would tell you about my new job. What I find the hardest is actually letting go of the familiar. Learning new people, new systems and new processes. I find myself still rather sad sometimes that I had to leave my old job, even though it really was the best decision.

I’d tell you that I am the only woman on my team and I’m the only non-Dutch person. These guys are also older than me and they have worked here for a LOT of years. Decades. One even just had his 41st work anniversary. And one of them is not the nicest person ever. In fact I already had a confrontation with him because, well, he was just super rude to me and I will not accept that kind of treatment any longer. Years ago I probably would have just pushed it down and tried to move on, but that doesn’t help anyone. Spoiler alert: after the confrontation he’s been quitte normal to me. It goes to show you that using our voice is important if anything is going to change. It just kind of sucks to be in a situation like that in the first place.

The commute has also been fine. I’ve been in the office twice a week for several weeks and the last few weeks only once. I do have to get up very early. The first month was really hard. Now it’s ok. I leave the house at 6:10 and ride my bike to the station. The train is nice and calm and quiet. It’s about 1 hour to where I need to go and then I hop on a metro for 3 stops to take me to the center of Amsterdam. From there it’s about a 5 minute walk.

The company is also very well known for treating their employees very well. I’ve done a newcomers program that took about 3 weeks and have done plenty of trainings to get me up to speed with policies and procedures. And I also had to take a very important and legal oath, since I am now working for a bank.

It’s still early days (2 months) but I believe it will only get better from here!

I try to get out for a walk at lunch on my office days. I work very close to one of the most touristic squares in Amsterdam.

If we were having coffee…

I would tell you that I’ve been much more active in Arnhem Together and I have met some amazing women through the group. I’ve been helping with events and social media and it’s honestly been so much fun. We’ve had coffee mornings and wine evenings and other events like collaborating with parkrun, and participating in the Airborne Commemorative March. This year we have big plans as well and I can’t wait to see how everything unfolds.

I have been in the Netherlands for 28 years and in Arnhem almost 17, but I think it’s not actually said enough how hard it is to make friends in a country that is not originally your own. Here in the Netherlands it is just really tough as Dutch people tend to have their friends from their school time and they stick with those people. Which is fine of course! But as an adult, wanting to make friends and being a foreigner it’s almost impossible to break into those circles. I do have a few Dutch friends and I love them to pieces so it IS possible, just very hard. Having an amazing group of women from all over the world to get to know is an absolute treasure. That’s why I feel it’s so important that groups like Arnhem Together exist.

Not only am I helping with events and regular social media, I also did a social media takeover last year as well, along with these other amazing ladies

If we were having coffee…

I would tell you that parkrun is still going super well for us here in Arnhem. We started our volunteer pool in late 2019 around 12 people. Now there is more than 50 people in our volunteer group chat app. parkrun is fully run by volunteers and we need about 8 – 10 every Saturday to make it happen. It’s not the same 8-10 people every week either, because people do have lives as well and sometimes they want to run other parkruns or other organised events. Having this many people in the pool makes it so less stressful to organise every week.

The local government parks and recreation department also decided to make Sonsbeek parkrun a fixed feature of the park! This month they will go around the course with us and will place permanent arrows on the path to show the route! Normally we put up (and take down) arrows ourselves every week and we chalk draw arrows on the ground. It’s really exciting that even the local government thinks parkrun is a good thing for the community and they are supporting us in this way!

If you have a few minutes, please watch this video that one of our volunteers made for us. It’s 6 minutes long and actually I promise you the best part is not me being awkward! And you get a bit of a glimpse of what our park is like and how participants feel about parkrun.

If we were having coffee…

I would have to admit to you that I am not having the best time in my life right now, I feel like everything has been slipping downward for the past couple of years and I am struggling to find a balance and a rhythm in my life for so long now. The positive part of all this is that I HAVE taken steps to make things better. It’s the being patient and getting through each day that is the challenge. I keep reminding myself that this is temporary even if it feels like it’s permanent.

I am still struggling a LOT with menopause – I keep getting new symptoms / going through new phases it seems. When does this end? My latest issue is massive acid reflux. It is SO annoying. So finally I was able to be rid of hot flashes and night sweats and able to sleep again, to be hit with something else that keeps me awake at night. Not only that but I also have a lot of pain in my joints, sometimes my entire leg just hurts from hip to foot, out of the blue. What is going on??

What would you tell me over coffee?

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Here are the guidelines:

  • Your link should center around some kind of fitness (exercise, wellness, mental health, nutrition… the possibilities are endless!)
  • Please link back to your hosts! It’s the right thing to do! 
  • Share the link-up love by visiting and commenting on your hosts and at least two other Fit Five Friday bloggers!
  • Feel free to share about Fit Five Friday on your social media! Tag #FitFiveFriday to get the word out!

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  1. Wendy says:

    It sounds like you’re going to have a very busy year–what with your new job, your womens’ group, and Parkrun! It can be very satisfying to be busy, but just make sure you take time for yourself! In general, I think it’s just hard to make friends as and adult, but being part of a group with a mission is a great place to start. All the best to you in 2023!

    1. Renée says:

      Thanks Wendy! same to you! And thanks for mentioning to take time for myself. I am definitely going to do that!!

  2. Coco says:

    Happy New Year, Renee!

    I love how “your” Parkrun has taken off and it’s amazing that it’s being made official! You have made such a huge contribution to your community!

    I think it is generally hard to make new friends as an adult, and I can see how cultural differences would exacerbate that. Having a few close friends is great.

    I hope to make it to CPH in the spring and will keep you posted in case we can figure out how to meet up.

    1. Renée says:

      Thanks Coco! I would absolutely love to see you if you get to Copenhagen. If you already kind of know when, let me know!

  3. Michelle says:

    Good to hear the new job is going well so far. I applaud you for speaking up with regard to the rude co-worker – best to set those boundaries early!

    Arnhem Together sounds like a great group. I do think making new friends as an adult is challenging – connecting through a group like this is a good place to start. I have thought about trying to find something similar here, but not sure I have the bandwidth to commit to anything else these days.

    Sorry about the meno struggles – it’s really the gift that just keeps on giving :( No great advice to offer, but I’m sending you hugs.

    1. Renée says:

      Thanks Michelle. And I totally hear you on the bandwidth thing – to be honest sometimes parkrun + AT + work is even too much.

  4. Glad to hear about the new job and Arnhem Together group going so well! You have a lot going on!

    1. Renée says:

      Thanks Erica!!

  5. Ouch on the leg! I have no idea what that could be. I had a pretty easy time with menopause initially, and still do frankly — but I’ve suddenly put on some weight. Stress? Dunno, but it’s definitely annoying. It’s been about 5 years since I first became post menopausal, btw. I hope you feel better soon, Renee, mesopause can be difficult and there’s no one way to get through it.

    I can only imagine how hard it is to make friends in a foreign country. I know when we move this will be very hard for me & my husband (this is still years away).

    My first job I was the only woman in the office (just out of college). No one was rude, some were quite nice, but three of the men were roughly my age now (and the boss was a lech, but thankfuuly not to me). Only one other person there was even close to my age. But that job only lasted one year — then I got married & moved away.

    1. Renée says:

      the leg thing was weird. it was just one night. weight gain is definitely a part of meno but stress doesn’t help anyone!!

      moving and making friends will always be tough I think, but I’m discovering that common interest groups really do help with loneliness even if only temporarily.

      thinks are improving with my colleague. seems that in person is way better than over the phone. I’m going to keep that in mind for the next time when it “feels” like passive-agressive behaviour.

  6. Your Arnhem Together group sounds wonderful! What a great “instant” network of friends ;-) I’m also glad to hear the new job is going well; it’s tough to get assimilated to a new environment with all new policies and personnel (especially people who have been a “unit” for so long). Thinking of you, my dear… I hope 2023 pans out nicely!!

    1. Renée says:

      Thank you so much Kim. x

  7. It is hard to make new friends as an adult but sounds like you are on the way to finding your people. Congrats on growing your parkrun initiative! I am seeing more of them in US too but have not tried it yet. Good luck w the new job. Hope your 2023 is bright and happy

    1. Renée says:

      Ooh Deborah I’m pretty sure there is a parkrun near DC!

  8. Darlene S Cardillo says:

    I love my friends… I can’t imagine moving and having to make new ones… so hard. But you have your virtual friends. We are here for you.

    And a new job to boot!! I hate my job!!!!!!!!!!!! But at least I mostly WFH and don’t have to deal with the other workers. And it’s my end of career jo. I’m working just for the paycheck. Need $$ for races LOL.

    My biggest issue with menopause but not sleeping. I still don’t sleep well.

    Parkruns seem such a good idea. Too bad they don’t seem to be nearby in the US.

    1. Renée says:

      I am so glad for my virtual friends! I would love my new employer to be the last one, but I’m not sure I’ll stay in this area of the business – time will tell. But yeah I do work for the pay check, it’s not actually like I “love” my career – but liking my job/colleagues/company is kind of important. And feeling like you add value.
      I hear you on the sleep/menopause thing. it sucks!
      I wish y’all had more parkruns!

  9. Oh no, I am sorry to hear things are rough for you. Ouch on the menopause issues. So far I’ve struggled with the hot flashes. Definitely not fun at all. However, sometimes I do wonder if that’s what it is because they’re mostly during the day and rarely at night. Hugs to you!

    1. Renée says:

      Thanks Zenaida! and I hope you don’t have it as “bad” as I do with the meno!!

  10. Jenn says:

    I’m so sorry about the hard time you’re having. It’s hard making friends as an adult, and it’s hard not feeling well. I’m proud of you for sticking up for yourself to your colleague. No need for that kind of nonsense.

    1. Renée says:

      Thanks Jenn. I guess this is just life, right? ups and downs.

  11. Shathiso says:

    I wish we were having coffee as I have so much to respond to what you’ve just said! When you live in your hometown/country, you easily forget how hard it is for others who didn’t grow up there to make friends especially as adults. But I’m so glad you are part of a community that encourages that fellowship and hope you continue to be active in the group.

    Yay for the local gov’t putting up permanent signs for your parkrun – I did a parkrun in a town called Bloemfontein in South Africa and was so impressed with the permanent signage. It looked so pro!

    Hoping you find that balance/rhythm soon – keep taking those steps forward (and I hope the menopause symptoms stabilise or disappear altogether, ggrrr).

    1. Renée says:

      thank you so much. and I think one of our regulars actually had Bloemfontein as his “home” parkrun. I would tell you over coffee that I was actually googling what the best way to travel to Botswana is recently and when I realised it was via South Africa, I then mapped out a trip in my mind to SA-BW-ZW-SA including at least two parkruns and a run (or a run/walk) with You included. Watch this space. Might only happen next year but I was inspired by some friends doing a similar trip right now.

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