Tag Archives: life

A year ago I made the decision to let go

Last year on this day I made the decision to pursue a longing that was with me for years already.

Although I didn’t really knew what shape or form it would be, the decision was made.

I love to think and talk about longings. Especially big ones that maybe never will happen. They make clear what someone really wants. One of the things I did as a freelancer before I went on my letting-go-adventure was guiding people with their next step in life. I coached, gave workshops and made online courses to help people with (re)discovering and acting on their talents, dreams and longings. For years I asked people questions about what they really wanted if time and money was not an issue. And in the meantime one of my own longings was formed: to go away from the things I was used to and be offline for a month.

Not the most impossible longing, but I always found excuses that seemed very real to me: lack of money, I need to be available as a freelancer, maybe after the next project that I am doing. So I kept thinking and saying it without really taking it serious.

Until that day a year ago.

A lot of things happened in the 2 years before that. Lots of ‘small’ things. Books that I read. Conversations that I had. Insights that came to me. And a few so called big things.

My father got very sick and died after an intense, heartwarming, joyous, sad, loving and mindful periode of 8 months. My closest aunt got sick in the same period and died a year later. Their warm and open approach to it all, and the heartwarming reactions from family and friends teached me many new life lessons. It made me very clear -once again- that life is really about trying to be a nice person. It’s not about the clothes you wear, how much money you make, what kind of job you have, how big your house is, the pictures you share on social media. How you are as a person, that is how people remember you.

So that all made me rethink and refeel a lot of things.

Like my working life. For years I enjoyed being a freelancer. But being honest to myself I had to admit that I didn’t anymore. I got stuck in trying to earn money and how to get new clients and projects all the time. Lots of thinking, less feeling. I noticed that I was in my head a lot. And while my attention was there, I didn’t feel like smiling to strangers. I was less present as a human being and that was not the kind of person I wanted to be.

So things shifted.

In the months before May last year I made the decision to quit as a freelancer. I went looking for a paycheck job. That didn’t go well. I wrote many application letters and only got rejections. Some of the jobs recieved more than 200 applications! And I didn’t seem to fit in their wishes.

I always believe that if something doesn’t happen, it is for a reason. That there must be something better waiting to happen. So I tried to keep that in mind, while wondering what to do with my life. It felt off and I didn’t know which way to go.

Until exactly a year ago.

I went for a drink fo catch up with someone I worked with during my freelance years. I was talking about everything that didn’t work out at the moment and he asked me what I wanted. I heard myself say: “I just really want to go away for a while and be offline”. But this time it was different. It felt different. Something shifted. “Oh oh”, I said to him, “I think I actually mean it this time”. For the rest of the day I was  confused. Could I really do this? It felt so scary and in the same time so appealing.

At the end of the day it already was some sort of a plan instead of just a longing.

I could do this.  Just go. Really go. Quit my rent. Get rid of lots of things. To let go and see what happens. To be somewhere else. Just me and a few of my things. Instead of scared I felt relieved. In the next days I spoke with a few friends. Made some calculations. And a few days later I made the decision with my head as well.

But the 12th of May is the date that I really listened to my heart and decided to follow it.

So my longings became this plan: to go to Ireland to do voluntary work for at least a few months. In August I went. Read this blog if you’re new to me/my story/this site.

To learn what you (don’t) want

So in the last weeks I learned so much at my voluntary place, Crann Og Eco Farm. I got to know myself better. I learned a few new skills. And to my surprise I discovered that I actually didn’t enjoy some things that I longed for since a long time. You know, those things that you think you like and you daydream about them. Sometimes you need to know what you don’t want in order to know what you do want.

Like peace and quiet. One of those things I always  wanted more off. And now I am here, at this place with just a few people, and I actually miss more people around me. Or at least the possibility of people to observe or talk to. Somehow it makes me more connected to myself.

Another thing is that I imagined myself in a little house in the woods, maybe even off-grid, back to nature. And at my current volunteer place I actually had the change to stay in a carabin (wooden house and caravan combined) in the big garden. And I passed. To actually make my own fire to be warm at night and to leave the building to go to the toilet, nope, that didn’t sound tempting at all. So I stayed in a bedroom in the main house.

One thing I never realized before I went here, is that I need the possibility to look in the distance. Like at the sea, cliffs or near a big river. My souls needs it. I need it. I like the forrest and the garden here, but I miss a bigger view.

Crann Og Eco Farm

All this, and a few other reasons, made it clear to me that I wanted to go to another voluntary place after a month here. So about two weeks ago I browsed through interesting projects at HelpX and Workaway. There are so many possibilities!

And with my new knowledge about myself, I knew better what to search for. I got in touch with few places. Most of them didn’t have a place in the timeframe I was looking for. Others didn’t really match I discovered after some mailing. In the meantine I was also in touch with my former manager at Dzogchen Beara, the place were I volunteered for almost half a year.

And end of this week I am going back there to volunteer! A few weeks working and living in the hostel again. And a few weeks assisting with accomodation manager tasks when someone is on holiday. I will also get a more private place to life then. I am really looking forward to that place that feels like home, the people, the meditating, the great lunches and the beautiful view. Time for new experiences on a familiar place. And I take all the new skills and nice memories I made at the places where I am now with me.

The cliffs at Dzogchen Beara

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Which wish is bigger than my fear?

A few days ago I was browsing through on of the boxes that I left in The Netherlands and I found a note that I wrote to myself a few years ago. Translated from Dutch it says: “Which wish is bigger than my fear?”. I totally forgot about it and it took me by surprise to see it again. Because I was actually living my wished life for the past months. I overcame my fear. I took the step.

Last summer I decided to follow my heart and combine a few dormant desires: quit my rent, get rid of loads of stuff and leave The Netherlands for a while. I decided to go to Ireland to do some voluntary projects for room and board. No idea what would follow and when I would be back. I ended up as a volunteer for 5 1/2 months in the beautiful, interesting and great Buddhist Retreat centre Dzogchen Beara.

Since a few days I’m back in The Netherlands. Just for a week or two, then I’ll go back to Ireland to do more voluntary work. For lots of people this probably doesn’t sound like a life you would (day)dream about. But it was for me.

Before I went away, one of the things I did for years in my then own company, was coaching people with their dreamed (work)life. In the sessions and also in personal conversations I had, a lot of the same questions came back:

What do you do?
What do you really want?
What is the worst thing you think could happen if you follow your heart?
What would you gain in your life if you would follow your heart?
What would you do if you would win the lottery?

Of course I asked these questions to myself as well and for years I answered: I want to go away for a while, be more offline and experience how I am without the things, people and habits that I’m used too.” That was my wish, my longing. And then there was the fear. And insecurities. Can I just go away? What if I don’t like it? Will I miss things after I get rid of them? How do I do that with money? How do I arrange all the practical hassle?

That stopped me from thinking seriously about it. And, as it goes with longings, last summer a few things didn’t work out for me and it all collapsed. And in that, everything came together and became clear: this was the moment. I am going to do it.

The interesting part for me was that the moment I made that decision, most of the fear and insecurities faded away. They were just not relevant anymore. It was all replaced by answers, excitement and a deep knowing that it would all work out. And that this was the best possible thing to do at that time. I never regretted it for even a second.

I also realize that fear is never a fixed state of mind. If you face it, it moves. You can try to hang on to it. Or explore and play with it. It’s up to you.

“Life doesn’t stay in place even for a moment.”
Gampopa

Loads of people

You can imagine that if you life and work in and around a hostel for about 4 1/2 months, like me now, there are always people around you. Loads of them. Some are coming for one night, most for two to thee nights, some for more nights and few of them for a week, or two.

Besides the hostel there are the guests that stay in the rooms in the Care Centre or in one of the cottages. Also there are buildings where people stay who are on a personal retreat. Some for a few nights, some for a few months. Then there are the people who work and volunteer here. And of course all the people who just come for one of the morning or afternoon meditations, or to go to the lovely bookshop/cafe.

I have had so much good conversations, loving greetings, interesting encounters, funny moments and warm goodbyes. And although I’m quit an optimistic person who tends to like people, I also had some boring conversations, cool greetings, irritating encounters, annoying moments and awkward goodbyes. But there were less of them.

I am a person that needs her alone and quite time on a day. And even with all these people around all the time, I could find the time and place for that as well. It helps that there is a quiet meditation room here. That there are always cats to pet and sit outside with. And I also had to learn to be on my own with people around me. A valuable lesson.

Altogether I feel privileged and thankful to have met so many interesting, sweet, lovely and nice persons.

What’s also interesting to me, is that sometimes I had a great connection or deep conversation with someone that I just met a few minutes ago. It is a special place with good energy here that attracts nice and interesting people, that’s for sure.

Some people I’m still in contact with, others I will meet again someday, others are nothing less than a good memory.

And I always try to keep in mind this sentence I read in a book:

“Imagine that everyone is enlightened except you.
The people you meet are all here to teach you something.”

Richard Carlson- don’t sweat the small stuff.