Twelve Things That Made Me Happy in December


I bought plants to decorate my house
Meet my new dependents! Two cacti, one aloë vera, one lemon tree, one bonsai, and two plants-with-no-name. For me, having dependents is a thing. I tend to neglect them, and then they tend to die. But I’m dedicated to keep these ones alive! To be continued…

I finished my PhD and graduated with distinction
My PhD defence ceremony on 14 December was without doubt the highlight of 2016. In the Netherlands, PhD ceremonies are a) very ceremonial, and b) very festive. There were so many people, and I felt so loved and special.

My four parents sat together for the graduation ceremony
Ever since my parents’ divorce sixteen years ago, they’ve struggled to come to terms with each other. My mom, dad, stepmom and stepdad sitting together made my graduation ceremony even more special. I later learned that during the break (in which I was locked up in the ‘sweat room’ while the professors debate my performance) my mum and stepmom embraced. All of my parents are very dear to me, and I’m touched to see that they’re (once again) dear to each other as well.

My friend’s son chose to decorate his new room in pink
I love it when kids make their own decisions, and even more so when it results in three-year-old boys sleeping under pink covers. He chose pink (and yellow) because it’s the colour of candy, which, again, in my view is a very wise choice for a man his age.


I realised how dear my friend Natalie is to me
In the days before my PhD defence ceremony in Groningen, I got to stay with my friend Natalie. When I’m in the UK we talk a lot on Skype, but being there with her I realised more than ever how I appreciate and miss her. She’s caring, devoted, easy-going, smart, and a wonderful wonderful friend.

I did my Christmas shopping without being harassed by barrel organs (‘draaiorgels’)
Draaiorgels are among the few things that can ruin my day in a matter of seconds. For whatever reason, the Dutch think that having extremely loud rolling draaiorgels in massively crowded shopping streets is normal. They also seem to accept the deplorable taste of music of those operating the killer machines. I’m telling you: Christmas shopping in the UK is a blessing.

I spent the Christmas holidays at my parents’ house
I love my job, and for years I thought that this meant I didn’t like or need holidays. I’ve learned that this is a lie. I do like and need days off. This month, I spent almost three weeks away from home, of which two away from work, and I really enjoyed it.

My dad had surgery and everything went well
My two fathers have fallen very ill at the end of last month. My stepdad was diagnosed with colorectal cancer with metastases in the lungs. My dad spent Christmas in the hospital recovering from major surgery in his abdomen, in which substantial bits of his colon and bladder were removed. It sucks that they’re sick, and I wish for them to feel better soon. I’m grateful for the time I got to spend with both my dads this month.


My sister recently started talking about babies (exciting!)
My sister, who is two years younger than me, has always disliked children as well as the idea of having them. When I visited her last week, she surprised me by saying she and her boyfriend are planning to, at some point, start a family. I mean, nothing’s decided yet, and these are long-term plans and all that, but still. I may become aunt!

I took a Netflix subscription
OK, when I registered for the one-month free trial, I was convinced it would end automatically. But it didn’t. So now I have Netflix. I actually tend to not get myself luxury things, so having Netflix is an achievement. I’m watching Making A Murderer now. Love it!

I turned thirty
Thirty! I didn’t do much for my birthday this year, because I already had so many festivities in December. I went plant shopping instead, and had a lovely day. So here’s to spending my 30th birthday exactly like I wanted to!

My name was all over the news
In the first week of December there was a press release about my PhD work on the long-term effects of ADHD medication. The media jumped right on it! My work appeared in newspapers, magazines, and even the most famous Dutch talkshow host (Matthijs van Nieuwkerk) talked about it. I myself was given the opportunity to talk about it on several radio stations. Not only was this really fun to do, but it also means a lot to me, as a scientist, to be able to share my findings with those affected by ADHD.

I hope you enjoyed this positive blog post. I certainly did! I hope to see you again for more happiness towards the end of January. In the meantime, if you want to stay up-to-date, subscribe to my blog through the menu on the right, or follow me on Twitter!

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