Am I a colonizer, a human or a tourist?

You are a tourist!


“Tourist, tourist!!”, I heard the kids shouting, while they were walking in the carnaval to celebrate independence day, in the heat of the middle of the day. They poked each other, pointed at me, laughing and shouting: “what your name, sir?” We were driving by, with open window, to admire the carnaval: me and my three Indonesian friends. By now I don’t take ‘sir’ personal anymore: every tourist is sir, male or female. But with ‘tourist’ it is a different story. Yes I know: I am tall, big, my hair is white both on my head and my arms (“why is it white, sir?”, I had been asked regularly). But I don’t feel like a tourist, certainly not these last few days staying with the Sasak people in Sembalunbumbung. Maybe because I don’t want to be seen as a tourist, maybe because we were so much welcomed in the village as…friends, fellow humans. I know some people will find this hypocrite and I understand. Ever since 1994 (when I started working for KLM), I have travelled the world intensely…as a European tourist. After nice new adventures, exploring new cultures, people and nature, seeing a lot of beautiful and miserable things, I always came and come back to one of the most wealthy countries in the world. To my home, my family, my car, my friends, my work, my sports and all the other nice stuff that comes with my life. I am very much aware of that.

Guilty as a colonizer…


But I am so fed up with blaming and shaming! Recently there is a lot of discussion in social media around the status of the globe and who is to blame for it. Colonialism is getting a big part of the blame. I understand people are angry, frustrated, desperate.., but what is the use of blaming Europeans for something their ancestors did, like three to four generations ago? Does it help navigating towards a new narrative? Not that I don’t feel responsible, I do. I remember very well when I first landed in South Africa, 25 years ago, how I felt responsible for apartheid. After all, it were my ancestors that played a big role in that. I have felt that guilt in a lot of countries: South Africa, Surinam, the dutch Antilles, Indonesia… It has taken me a long time to understand, that guilt is as destructive and ‘of the ego’ as blaming. It is a disclaimer for taking responsibility. To find a place of acceptance, understanding and even some forgiveness for all that happened, without denying what happened, while not taking all the shame for it, that is taking responsibility, in my view.

Private chat with the king


In this matter, our talk with the chief of the Sasak village has been so inspiring and even healing for me. Here is this 85-year old king, who has lived with Dutch colonizers. As a muslim, you can imagine it will not be everyday that he welcomes two women in his village: one from the East and one from the West…Balanda, Holland. Not only did he welcome us to stay in his village, he invited us to gather in the community room to share stories about the history of the Sasak people and Lombok. Wow: for five hours on end, we sat with him and about 10 youngsters within the community. I am still a bit overwhelmed and humbled by it. Papu was so open to us, so compassionate about the history, so innovative towards the future, wow….! If we could all stop the blaming and shaming and find the space in our heart to forgive and look ahead of us instead of behind us, what could be possible?

I am because we are…human


This morning I learned, that aboriginal people haven’t been considered human until 1967. What!!!? I had tears coming immediately when I heard this. They were regulated under the law of flora and fauna…can you believe that? I sure couldn’t. Somewhere we’ve lost it, was my first reaction, as humans. And then I realised I was doing exactly what I don’t like in the social media at the moment: trying to find someone to blame for something I couldn’t get my head around. I decided to stop that route, make an offer (being in Bali, in a ‘western balinese with the best intention’ kind of way ;-)) and pray. Yes, sometimes it is f…ing hard to understand what we, humans, do. Let alone find forgiveness and compassion. Yet, I do believe this is the only solution to heal whatever happened. ‘If you heal yourself, you heal the world’, came very strongly in my meditation, my prayer. It is said by one of the earth keepers in the movie ‘Down to Earth’. More and more, I understand this as a truth. Ancient wisdom holds so many truths what it is to be human.

So, whether our motto is the African ‘Ubuntu’ (I am because we are) or the Eastern ‘Saudara’ (we all have the same blood) or the Native American ‘Aho Mitakyue Oyasin’ (we are all one), imagine what the world could look like if we all start understanding the truth of these mottos…

I’d sure like to consider myself as just another human being trying to live a truthful life.

7 reasons for an entrepreneur to grow your own vegetable garden

Your own vegetable garden or somebody else’s?

It is up to you to decide! ‘A lot of new entrepreneurs work in other people’s vegetable gardens, they don’t grow their own.’ I liked the metaphor of the vegetable garden, that Bas used in the weekend ‘TOP entrepreneur’, that I attended. Like in a vegetable garden, in entrepreneurship there is also a natural process of the seasons: first you look for fertile soil, then you decide what to seed, after nursing you will (or will not) be able to harvest and after harvesting the whole cycle starts again. ‘It is not right or wrong to have your own garden or work in others’, he said, often, ‘it’s just the way people unconsciously start’. If you start your own business, people from your network hear about it and before you know (if the network sees something in you ;-)), you have your first jobs. Easy peasy. You don’t have to do any marketing, don’t have to develop products yourself, you don’t have to recruit…you can just show up and do ‘your thing’. That is, in case that thing is a service, like in my case.

I realised that I have, gratefully, spent the past 3 years working in other vegetable gardens. And a tiny bit in my own. I do have many ideas and plans, but was too busy working in other gardens, to be able to grow my own. After this full weekend about target group, products, marketing, website etcetera, the seed was firmly planted in me: I strongly feel it is time for me to grow my own vegetable garden. So I hope to inspire you with some of the main insights from this weekend about what I (and you?) need to have the courage for…;-)

1) Increasing your impact by living your own purpose

Most entrepreneurs start working for themselves, because they feel some kind of longing or urge (the latter in my case ;-)) to be able to fully live their soul purpose. If you’re used to working in a box, like a corporate box or educational box or whatever system you’ve spent your career in, entrepreneurship is the gate to more freedom in fully living your purpose in your own way. If you (finally) know what your life is about, your true Self is so happy and eager to go and live it, that it is a challenge to find other vegetable gardens that mirror your exact purpose. So by working in others vegetable gardens, you run the risk that you’re, in a way, boxed in again. Wasn’t that what you didn’t want anymore? The more you live your own truth, the bigger the impact will be!

2) Trust your own uniqueness

There are so many colleagues in the area of transformation, leadership, social entrepreneurship… so why would anybody be waiting for me? This is a limiting belief that I hear a lot. Inside myself and among other entrepreneurs. If you believe this to be true, it will become true. If you can trust that you are a unique combination of talents, experience, personality and purpose, then that will become your truth. I had a total blind spot for some of the great things I carry in my backpack, because they’re so common to me. Challenge yourself, go ask what makes you unique among friends, make a list of all the things you will bring to the table. You will empower yourself and strengthen your uniqueness.

3) Show your colour!

Showing your true colour means you’ll attract the ‘right’ people: those people that resonate with your colour. For the past few years I thought that my target group was ‘everybody in the world’. That I would just say yes to anything I sensed a yes for. Noble, don’t you think? Now I see that it doesn’t help. I am in the process of setting the boundaries of my target group, which is quite challenging for somebody that wants to include the whole world. But working on it, helps me shaping my own true colour better and better. And discovering the needs of what I, for now, consider my target group, sure helps me to get more clarity about my colour. And it is a lot of fun to do! So don’t think you have to all do it by yourself, include your potential customers to shape your colour together!

4) Taking a risk

If you work in somebody else’s garden, there are always compromises to be made. What seeds will be planted, what soil is chosen, how often the garden is taken care of, with what, how the harvest will be divided, etcetera. And it makes perfect sense, that this is the way it is. Because the owner runs all the risks, you’re not. He/she decides and you’ll have to lean in. But entrepreneurship is about taking a risk, daring to lead, daring to fail. It takes courage, guts. But if you trust your uniqueness, embrace your own purpose, showing your true colour, you are ready to take the risk yourself. It will pay off, perhaps not right away, but it will.

5) Dare to share

Also when you are not ready…dare to share.. Or if you make mistakes. Make sure you are, in some way, out there in the world. You don’t have to wait for your website to be perfect to show it. It is perfectly fine to show non-professional video’s. Bas even says: better a bad blog than no blog at all. Dare to ask publicly. For money, for advice, for support, just be vulnerable. Easier said than done, because being out there, means people will have an opinion about you. There will always be people who like what you do and people who don’t, people who will judge you. Don’t take it personal, don’t let it withhold you, dare to share, as often as you can, so that people have the opportunity to get to know you.

6) The universe needs guidance


If you believe so, the universe wants to do everything to support you. For those who have red books like ‘Synchronicity’ and ‘The alchemist’ they know: the universe doesn’t judge, is unconditional and will help you putting the right things on your path at exactly the right moment. But you need to be clear. The clearer you are about your purpose, your target group, your goals, the more support you’ll get. The more you can envision everything you want to manifest, the more precise it will manifest. Be honest and clear about what it is you do, how and certainly why. Intention includes destination: imagine your ideal manifested world and it will happen.

7) The future is now

There are always reasons to consider this moment ‘not the ideal moment’. There will always be ‘ifs’ that need to be fulfilled before you can do what you really want. If I would have the money, if I would have the time, if….Excuses are mostly a manifestation of fears. Unrealistic fears, so fears that are not supporting you. In my field of expertise (transformation, consciousness and sustainable impact) the momentum is now, yesterday and, for sure, tomorrow. Every day that I wait writing my book, developing my products, interviewing my customers is a missed opportunity. The future is now.

The proof of the pudding is in the eating

Now I wish I could tell you that my new website is live, my book is at the publisher and my first product will run next month. That is not the case and it doesn’t go that fast. I am in an ‘in between’ situation, which is quite hectic. I’m working in my own vegetable garden, which is totally overgrown, AND in a few other vegetable gardens at the same time. So of course this is not a smooth process ;-). I have commitments, love the things I do, the people I do it with and why I do it. So there are a lot of decisions to make and at the same time I have to build and run daily stuff parallel. But isn’t that just like life: the future is now and now is perfect in all imperfection :-).

Working from God's own country

Brené is right

‘Do you ever give each other treatments?’, I asked, while laying on the wooden massage table in the Ayurvedic hospital, being massaged by two lovely Indian women, my therapists for the next 14 days. ‘No ma’am, we poor. Maybe if one day sell house’. Bam! A huge feeling of shame entered my body. What a stupid question, what was I thinking!? It was a very well-intended, though very naive, question of mine, because I would love them to experience the indulgence they were giving me. And then Brené Brown popped up in my mind. I watched her ‘Call to courage’ the night before. ‘Shame is of the ego’, she said after 20 years of researching it, so she knows… So there was no escape for me as to deal with this struggle: the shame I felt in my body, my mind knowing Brené is right and meanwhile turning over and over on the table like some kind of oily manatee. A very naive manatee!

Study, work or holiday?


‘Are you going on holiday again!?’, people asked, when they heard about my India trip. ‘It is no holiday’, I said, ‘I am going on a study trip’. It didn’t sound very convincing, but I am in the process of practicing ‘The art of not giving a fuck’, without having red the book yet ;-). (Now I hear you thinking, perhaps you should read it and you’re right, so the book is ordered and waiting for me at home ;-)). I am trying to ignore what people think about me. Very challenging. And I am telling the truth; this is not a holiday! Holiday, to me, is totally tuning off, spending time doing fun things, drinking cocktails. I came here to start writing my book, develop strategy for the next decade, study, grow my financial intelligence, bring back discipline in my life and practicing yoga and meditation….no holiday to me! And what is work, by the way? Especially for an entrepreneur and with all the connectedness 24/7, even in India? My laptop is my office…whether it is from a hammock or behind a desk. And then there is this part about living your purpose, that puts ‘work’ in a totally different perspective. ‘If you do what you love, you’ll never work another day in your life’. Is work what you do to earn money or is work living your purpose?

Retreat like Dalai Lama

The Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu retreat every year. The Dalai Lama for two months, Desmond Tutu for one. Now I wouldn’t compare myself to these ‘guys’, but, to me, there is a big truth in what they say about the importance of retreating regularly. In the book ‘Joy’ (which I can truly recommend if you’re interested in living a purposeful, joyous life and not taking yourself too serious), they explain why. With all the impulses of nowadays and people being switched on all day, it is of crucial importance to your health to regularly retreat. To reflect, integrate, clear both your body and mind. To reset and refresh yourself. To hear your Self.

Ancient wisdom and homo cooperans

Need I say more?

Need I say more?

The doctors here walk around very graciously, in sari, doctor’s coat and barefeet. They are not in a hurry, laugh frequently and joke around with each other. The therapists radiate joy, although they work really hard, making long hours, treating all these chubby western bodies (to put it mildly ;-)). There is an enormous beauty in it all and a sadness at the same time. Ayurveda is the science of life, it is an ancient wisdom of 5000 years old. How can it be, that in the part of the world where I live, we have forgotten the art of living? Taking care of mind and body, acknowledging its obvious interaction? It is so lovely to reconnect to yourself, feel the energy flowing again. I wonder more and more where in the world one can find more civilisation. I recently red an interesting article in the Dutch newspaper about the necessary shift we should make from ‘homo economicus’ to ‘homo cooperans’. On all my travels, over and over again, it is the native tribes, that truly know the art of living. They live it! Their way of living is about community, caring for each other, using what you need, being humble and grateful. Working from God’s own country, as Kerala in India is, rightfully so called, you feel it. You feel the wisdom, the love, the laughter, the peace. It is so inspiring! In a long time I haven’t been this efficient, effective and nurtured and reset at the same time…

Slow down to speed up! Retreat as often as you can!

Transformation is a shift in root perspective. The butterfly cannot go back to being a caterpillar, once bursted out of the cocoon. There is no way back. My latest transformation is like that, I feel it in my whole body: no way back. Amazing how important it is to first slow down to be able to speed up, to integrate lessons learned. ‘Accelerate, consolidate, learn’ an old friend of mine loved to preach. Without consolidation (i.e. reflection) there is no learning, let alone acceleration. I got that.


Reflection and relaxation are crucial to lead a healthy, happy, creative life. Crucial for the mind, for the body, for our energy to flow. Crucial to be our best in every role we occupy in our crazy, busy, noisy lives of today. We all know it, we feel it in our bodies. The scientific evidence cannot be argued. And yet, we find it sooo hard to pull the plug, sit still, change our habits and consciously take time to slow down to speed up. We think we have to speed up to speed up, addicted as we are to action. Slow down, to speed up! I’ve really felt that in my whole being these past five weeks during my ‘Me-We-It-Retreat’ in Amsterdam.

In Amsterdam!? Shouldn’t a retreat be somewhere in nature? Yes sometimes…but not for me this time… Funny, everybody has an opinion about what a retreat should or should not be. And that is exactly why I do this: feeling what I feel and what I think instead of meeting expectations of others… And automatically go and do that. Because that is the most common thing to do, isn’t it? Doing what you are used to do, without thinking, without (too much) feeling. Until that inner voice starts to first whisper and then shout: you are a human BEING, not a human DOING, stop!

I am writing this blog from one of the many, many places where a lot of people are sitting behind their laptops with a latte in front of their nose. Foreign languages and different ages everywhere. This is not the Amsterdam of 25 years ago. Not even of 5 years ago, when I left. In the street where my ‘temporary home’ is, I hear more languages than I know. In the supermarket around the corner nobody carries a basket. These youngsters, mostly foreigners, buy one meal at the time, for themselves. They live outdoors, carry their lives in their smartphones. It is confronting for me: I have to get used to this change in ‘my’ city. It is a lot of me, myself and I, nowadays.

So here I am, on my ‘Me-We-It-Retreat’. That is the way I labeled it, to be able to explain to others (and to myself ;-)?) why, how and what I am doing this for. Labeling and explaining helps people to get over their own fears and anxieties that are mirrored in my decision. For me, this is about integrating all my changes of the past 5 years. And there were many of them! I got married (yes, for the first time), became a (step)mom of two kids, divorced my blue corporate family I had been together with for 22 years, acquired a biiiiig family in law, started as an entrepreneur and…..moved out of Amsterdam….to an adult (my first) house in a little cute village…. Quite a lot, in 5 years.

19 Ubuntu 3rd.jpg

‘You can’t pour from an empty cup. So if you truly want to be of service to the world, you have to be your first priority. Your outer can only be great, if your inner is great.’ I now truly feel that to be true. I thought that, being Mrs Transformation, I was so flexible, easy peasy. That being conscious of all these changes was enough. What I didn’t see is how I had slowly lost sight of my own needs to serve the ‘greater good’. I was so busy serving the family and my role as an entrepreneur, that I had neglected my own needs. So I had to start with me, serving me. That is not selfish, but crucial to understand how to be my best me.

Ok, serving me, what does that mean? Eating what I want, when I want it, watching tv shows that I want, reading what I want, meeting people that I want, visiting exhibitions that I want, being in the city that I want. Everything that I want, for 5 weeks long, wow!! It is amazing to see how taking care of yourself quickly results in renewed energy, many insights and vibrating new plans and ideas.

And immediately after me comes we. In that order: I am, because we are. I finally understand this part of Ubuntu. I always thought, that we is more important than me. That used to be my truth: I hate the individualistic and egoistic way of being, that rules our world and that I don’t consider the essence of us, human beings. Now I see: taking good care of myself before being able to be the best of me in every situation, that is true Ubuntu. And of course the proof of the pudding is in the eating…Because serving others and the ‘whole’ is still what I am used to the most…


‘What will be different when you return after 5 weeks?’, my bonus daughter asked me when I announced my retreat. ‘Me’, I answered. Organisations, families, societies don’t transform, people do. It is me.

Rubbish in, rubbish out


My bed was shaking....I thought it was just me, my perception, since I had had quite an intense healing in the Besakih temple the day before. Then my room started to shake. I stayed calm, but did realise I had no clue what to do if it would get worse. Since I knew my Balinese friend would be at the reception by now, I decided to go and find her. 'You just experienced an earthquake!', she said upon my entering the lobby. Ah, an earthquake, sure! In the moment itself I hadn't been scared at all. Now that I knew what it was, I noticed I still felt very calm. Funny enough, I woke up about ten minutes before it happened. I was wondering whether to join sunrise yoga or go for a walk down the river. I had already decided to go for the walk and meditate in the bamboo forest, when everything started to shake. 'When something like this happens, I always feel like listening to what Earth has to say. I have the feeling we don't do that enough as humans'. I totally understood what she was saying and so I did. When only a few seconds in my meditation an immediate message came on my question 'what do you need'? 'Rubbish in, rubbish out. I need to be safe and loved.'

Now, I consider myself quite a conscious person as to how we treat Earth. This message stroke me. I could feel the disrespect we show as humankind by our taking, taking and more taking. What do we give back? The only worry we generally show is mainly out of self interest: when water is running out, gas supplies decrease, food harvests are not as good as expected. Self interest. It was one of the final words my father in law said before passing away. An important one: is self interest perhaps the most destructive phenomenon on earth?

I loved to see all the transformed faces at the end of our workshop week in Bali. It is such an honour to do this work! Inspiring people to be their true Selves. Help them take ownership of their own lives, make them remember their meaning in life. The possibilities that emerge from! Funny enough these possibilities never come from a place of self interest. What emerges always holds the interest of the community, future generations, giving back, serving others to connect with their true purpose. It is a confirmation, to me, that we are spiritual beings having a human experience. It is an honour and bliss to see people free themselves of limiting beliefs that would have kept them stuck in the lower levels of the pyramid of Maslow. Imagine if everybody in the world would be the best they could be!? Self interest as a leading principle would certainly vanish, I am sure.


While meditating in the bamboo forest, a lot of insights came to me. All life needs to take care of levels one and two: survival, food and health, love, belonging and propagation. Plants, animals, humans, all. But the level of self esteem, level 3 in the levels of consciousness of Richard Barret that we use in this work, is a soly human need, it seemed to me. I don't know if it is true, but it feels like it's only about satisfying our ego. I do know to be true that we, as humankind, do need to transform to be able to move to a new paradigm. And I know transformation of humans is mainly about realising we are not only our ego, our strategic persona. We are equally our soul, our true being.

I loved the Balinese people: so much gentleness, gratitude, grace. Wouldn't it be great if we could learn to use the best of the richness of all our cultures in the world? That we 'take' the Asian grace, the European pioneering, the down-to-earthiness of Africa. It is all there. United diversity: look at the beauty of the differences. Instead of all chasing an American or European dream, which is a bubble anyhow, if you ask me. The Besakih temple has 7 levels and then a level of 'higher consciousness', where we were lucky to be able to join prayers. Would we ever reach that level as humankind?

Of course I am also part of the hypocrisy of humankind. I can only share my Balinese adventure, because I spent about 30 hours in a polluting plane to be there. I am very much aware of that. And the fact that I am bubbling of new ideas that I will manifest, visited Greenschool, sponsor 4Ocean to solve the plastic problem in the world, doesn't make up for it. What I can do, is act like an ambassador of Earth, promoting raising our consciousness to take better care of her...and ourselves. Rubbish in, rubbish out also goes for us as humans. Next week I will spend my yearly cleaning week at the Schouw, just cleaning my one and only body that I've got and don't always treat so gently. Imagine what Earth would need to do some internal cleaning... 


The future is now!


Half of the world population is under 30, did you know? I recently had a lot of discussion around this generation: with and about them. Interesting thing is, when I talk 'with' them (those young people, under 30), I am mostly very inspired. To me, it seems they really care about the state of the earth, they live a lot more conscious life than I did at that age (when my main goal at that point was to learn how to dance salsa and enjoy life to the max). They don't seem to care so much about status, cars and earning lots of money (which I never did by the way ;-)). It seems to me they are quite good in sharing, pursuing their original purpose in life. On the other hand, when I talk 'about' them, the tone of voice is so different! Then I hear I am too optimistic, that it is a lazy generation, that they want to earn fast money and many of it. Where does this go wrong? I don't think I only meet 'indigo children', am I? (I only learned about this last week: children born after 1990, that are said to have come to help us transform the world and they don't have to get rid of all unnecessary human limitations, because they just don't have them ;-)). To me it is so obvious we should include the next generation a lot more in everything we do! Is this such a crazy idea, too much pioneering, dangerous or far-fetched, that I am not getting the support needed to truly empower this generation?

I recently joined a Meetuptospeedup. A meeting organised by MVO Nederland: sustainable entrepreneurship. These were meant to be THE pioneers in sustainable business. And they were...a few of them.. Those on stage, with cool commercial successful business models, like 'Kromkommer'. By the way, nothing wrong with that, nothing. I am very much in favour of opportunistic behaviour when it comes to integrating sustainability in your business in a profitable way. What a bull shit that we should all be a mother Teresa! The sad thing is, that many of the others, those not on stage with success stories, were so sour during the breakouts...yuk! I almost got sick of all the 'what they don't understand's, pessimism, all the obstructions listed. If these are the pioneers in an uber-pioneering country like Holland, then what do we expect of the rest of the world!!??


Yesterday I met John Liu, a filmmaker and ecologist on a mission: organising ecosystem restoration camps. So cool! If we quickly (like in the next 10 to 20 years) organise these camps everywhere in the world, we turn back the degradation of earth, thus humanity. He is convinced about it. I brought a master student in ecology with me, under 30, who studies in Capetown. And while we were discussing, I suddenly saw it: this is about her future! In 20 years I will be around 70. She will probably have young kids. I will reflect on my life, trying to share my lessons learned. She will work somewhere, somehow, perhaps live in a community, with scarcity of water, sharing transport, living on a totally different diet without meat, sugar and soya. 

Next week I will visit the Greenschool in Bali. Their mission is: a community of learners, making our world sustainable. My stepdaughter is in international school, where they learn to be a global citizen. In Greenschool they learn to take responsibility for a sustainable world. Our world. How lovely would it be if half the population of the world (under 30) would take a global responsibility to restore earth in her natural state. Because the other half (over 30) messed up our beautiful home in the past, since we started agriculture about 10,000 years ago.


I certainly feel responsible personally, and listening to John Liu, I got confirmed I should. I live in one of the most wealthy places on earth. And one, that is a small country, but has had a biiiiiiiiiiiiig footprint in many ways in the world. I feel that responsibility and try to do something about it, in my own way. That is the only thing I can do. That I feel obliged to, called to.  

The future is now. We should all behave like global citizens, showing responsibility for our world. From my grandmother of 98 to all the teenagers starting their holidays next week.

The future is now. 



Freedom is...being an pioneer?


Big things happened in the past two months...BIG things... Like the stuff I wished for during the 'Thinking big in 2018' retreat that I organised (myself, voluntarily :-)) in January. Be careful what you wish for? According to the Alchemist (one of the three books I am currently reading ;-)) it is obvious....once you start heading towards living your Personal Legend (your purpose in your life), the universe will do everything to support you getting there. And the universe is. And more and more I am able to go with the flow: hold the vision, trust the process; in an amazing pace... 'People will think you are crazy, they will not understand you and make fun of you', Gita said about living the life of a pioneer. I know. And for the first time in my life, I don't care...almost don't care ;-).

Pioneering was part of the newly developed purpose within KLM. After 22 years, I felt seen. I don't know if it was about being Dutch: exploring the globe, discovering new things, new places. But I did experience a deep feeling of being allowed to be the way I am. Funny, because the same inspiring process of co-creating this new purpose with a very diverse group of people, now appeared to be the reason I left the company. I still have an immense blue heart, I do. But I suddenly understood, that I am a pioneer by heart and that it was time to find my Personal Legend. And despite all impactful lessons, dear friends, amazing experiences, that I gathered during those 22 years, it was time to move on and explore further.

So one of the things I did, intuitively, since this is my year and I allowed myself to make space to follow my intuition, was going to Dubai. Visiting a former colleague and friend, at the same time having some business talks in the area, which seemed to call me in some way. All the business talks planned didn't happen or went in a totally different direction... Funny...during the whole week, every talk, from the Uber drivers to my friends and acquaintances in the area were about life.. The challenges of life, the promises, family stuff, finding balance...big things, simple stuff, important stuff, no work stuff. 


I tried to explain my mom last week about all the awesome things that are happening to me. 'I am going to the green school in Bali! I met this amazing guy that I feel I will work with around the global goals!'. She didn't seem to understand. 'But when is all this voluntary stuff ending? What does your husband think about it?'. Of course it appealed to my loyal-responsible-oldest.daughter-part in me. I felt guilty, misunderstood, doing something wrong. After a stressful weekend of feeling this feeling and taking it along in all my other interactions with people, it dawned to me: this is the price you have to pay if you are walking your path, as a pioneer. To be challenged, misunderstood, feeling alone. And I need to understand that guilt is a useless emotion and that everybody learns his or her own lessons in their own way and moment...

The Alchemist talks a lot about the omens you get along the way. And about the hard moments when it is tempting to return to everything you know, quit exploring. I know I am on the right path. I keep getting signs. From all the animal pairs we encountered in Australia, via all (new) people that cross my path with the exact right message in the exact right moment, to all work-related requests I get. I am on the right path. And I should quit explaining myself and just enjoy the process, damn hard. This is my path, the path of a pioneer...



Freedom part 3: healing in Abu Dhabi

'If I heal myself, I heal the world.' These wise words are said in the movie Down to Earth by an Irish earth keeper. During the few days of workshop in Abu Dhabi I felt the depth of these words. To feel this, also gave me some kind of release: it means I don't have to take responsibility to take the whole world on my shoulders, which is not very effective anyway ;-). I learned there is even scientific research that proves, that the higher your level of consciousness, the more people you are balancing that are not capable (for whatever reason by circumstance or choice) to raise their consciousness. Now this is a really interesting thought to me. So the more work you do to grow yourself, the more you help the world?

I think I have worked on my personal growth for more than 25 years now. Perhaps longer, I feel it even started when I was about 10. Now, I don't say that to be swanky, on the contrary; I have been misunderstood or misinterpreted for it quite a lot in my life. 'Are you still seeing that coach? Are you going on a retreat again? Don't you know it all after reading all these self-help books? Do you still visit that teacher?' No, I don't know it all...worse still, the more I grow, the less I know... And yes, I love it! And for a long time I needed it. To understand what life in general, and my life in particular, was about. By now, I kind of understand what my life is about and I still choose to spend a lot of time on my personal growth, just because it inspires me. And I see life as one big growth playground, so I will not miss one opportunity to play. Perhaps that is what Gandhi meant with his quote:

'My life is my message'.

There is also a huge downside to my hobby of personal growth. I can't understand people who don't love to learn. People who don't allow themselves to make mistakes. People who don't want to explore their feelings and emotions. It just doesn't fit in my brain. And there are lots of them. Not just in the world, also in my world. So relating to them can sometimes become difficult. Luckily that was the topic of the workshop I attended: Being in relationship. 

The definition of relationship was very clarifying for me: a relationship means being aware of the other person's way of being. Not his or her way of doing, the way of being. Now, how accepting are we, on an everyday basis, with the people we spend our lives with? Are we able to see them for the way they are or do we see them like we expect and want them to be? Another eyeopener for me was when Gita, our teacher, said that not hate, but judgement is the opposite of love. Judgement. How capable am I, with all my experience in personal growth, to accept people around me fully for who they are? With all their beautiful and not so beautiful characteristics? Without the urge to judge...

Learning and working with these ideas in the context of more than 50 people coming from more than 30 nationalities for a few days, is heaven to me. Now the proof of the pudding is in the eating, right? Am I able to live this new learnt way of being in my daily life? Showing up fully for who we are takes a lot more courage with our loved ones than with 50 strangers. 

I admire, and would like to acknowledge, Gita Bellin, our teacher in Abu Dabi, for her way of being. She dedicated her life to raising consciousness and taught thousands of people in the world to get to a higher level of consciousness. Her vision is that relatedness should be the organising principle of the 21st century. It made me think of the golden rule, elucidated on in the book 'Imaginal cells, visions of transformation' (written by Kim Polman and Stephen Vasconcellos. If you haven't red it, please do! Great book with visions of the world from great world leaders). The golden rule: treat others and the planet as you wish to be treated. Togetherness, relatedness.

It is my intention to live what I learned in Abu Dhabi: accept myself and others for our way of being. Treat others and the planet as I wish to be treated. For if I heal myself, I heal the world. 

Freedom part 2: Space and sea in Australia


'A whale shark needs quite a lot of personal space. So if we get into the water, leave at least 3 to 4 metres between you and the animal.' What is it with people that they are so preoccupied with themselves that they just don't respect this space!? As soon as we were in the water, everybody started swimming like Ian Thorpe (we agreed during the briefing to stay in one place), creating an amount of bubbles we even don't get in our jacuzzi! A German girl with a go pro on a selfie stick pushed me away quite firmly, so that she could take the perfect picture. What is wrong with people? Why can't they enjoy the amazing experience of being in the water with this incredible creature instead of making the perfect picture for their Facebook or Insta accounts? When we came out of the water I felt quite sad...what is wrong with mankind, that we just don't seem to know anymore what it is to experience things and instead people are totally obsessed with the best picture. The world through the lens of our go pro's, smartphones and number of likes on social media.

There was an article in the newspaper on the 7 plagues of Facebook. I do believe Mark Zuckerberg had great intend wanting to create a transparant, connected community that solves the issues in today's world that way. More and more we start to understand though, that is not what is happening. Instead it is about earning a lot of money through selling data collected through facebook. And in the meantime people are addicted to the beautiful success stories you must show to the world. Even ex-important-Facebook-people admitted in the article, they wouldn't allow their own children on Facebook because of all the bad effects. Since they know how they consciously created something that is addictive, and unhealthy especially for kids, for the brain. I think I will quit Facebook again when I am back from traveling.


There was a very nice young lady on the boat when looking for the whale sharks and manta ray's. Her name was Emma and she came from Eastern Australia. A marine biologist: apparently difficult for them to get a paid job. Weird isn't it? With all the issues going on in our oceans, you would think there is enough work in this field. She decided to become a marine biologist, when her father took her diving in the Great Barrier Reef at the age of 14. I smiled a satisfied smile: we took the children to Panama last year to get their divers license. My hidden agenda was that you can't start early enough creating environmental consciousness with this generation. And her story seemed to prove it works that way. When we asked her how the Great Barrier Reef was doing (since we were at the Ningaloo Reef on the other side of the country, which is still a hidden treasure), she shared her very interesting analysis with us, so here is Emma's story:

'The biggest problem is, we still don't look at the complexity of this whole systems issue. It is not just climate change, plastic soup or overfishing. The state of the reef is influenced by much more and very worrisome. That side of the country, there are a lot of big farms, close to the sea. In order to farm, they changed the natural environment, so there is less oxygen coming from trees. Apart from that, there is polution in the air. These two have made the algae change. Because of the change of the algae, less sun is reaching the coral, which really needs sun to grow. Since the shallower coral areas are the breeding rooms for big fish, like whales and whale sharks, to have their kids, the coral is crucial for life in the ocean. So if this situation continues and gets a certain point the big fish of the oceans will not be able to propagate anymore. And you can imagine what that would mean...'


We enjoyed the space in Australia so much. It was liberating, inspiring, refreshing and energizing, all at the same time. There are not many places anymore in the world, where you can drive for hours through nature without seeing another soul, your thoughts able to just wander around. It is so freeing and we felt very grateful. We were incredibly lucky, that we not only saw whale sharks and manta rays. While wild camping, we also saw a pair of fish eagles hunting, a school of dolphins migrating through a bay and, two rare Australian sea lions and, as icing on the cake, our last morning, we saw two dolphins playing just 20 metres in front of us while having our breakfast. is hard to describe how we felt. We were in awe and we felt a call for action... 

Freedom part 1: Exploring Singapore

‘I feel most at home while traveling, living out of a suitcase’. I was very happy when I recently heard a guy saying that and to know it is not just me with this weird, deeply felt, concept of ‘home’. I guess it is about the simplicity of life while traveling: it really helps me to live in the now. Where do we eat? Where do we sleep? How far does it take to get there? Enjoy the moment to the max, since this is new soil to discover...and you never know if it will be a ‘one of’ or not, so better make the most out of it. And then of course there is the simplicity of just having your ‘must haves’ with you and not all the other shit we collect during our lives. I find that very liberating as well. So freedom for me is definitely traveling the world. 


‘To travel is to live’, I put as an image on my whatsapp. I truly feel that and especially if I travel with Patrick, just the two of us. Of course I also like to travel as a family with the kids. But then, for me, it is mostly about enjoying the enjoyment of the kids experiencing new things. When it is just the two of us, I love the bubble we immediately get into. It is pure: just him and me. I also feel we are at our best: both independently and as a couple. Quite sad by the way, that we are at our best during two weeks of the year ;-), if we’re lucky... Is that free? How would other couples feel about that?



Arriving in Singapore we learned this week the Chinese celebrate new year: the year of the dog, my Chinese sign. ‘That is Maktub’, Patrick said. It is the name of his company and he holds the concept very dear. It comes from the Alchemist, the famous book of Paulo Coelho. It means something like: it is all written in the stars. When we just met, I found this was quite an easy, even lazy way of looking at things: you don’t have to do anything, cause everything is meant to be, yeah right. Nowadays, I realize it is a very free way of looking at life. It is a bit like ‘hakuna matata’: don’t worry, be happy. I realize our own mind (my own mind ;-)) is the biggest challenge when it comes to freedom. We are as free as we allow ourselves to be. It made me think about Victor Frankl and how he explains in his book ‘Man’s search for meaning’, how they can take away everything from you (he stayed in a few different concentration camps during the second world war), but they can never take away your freedom of thinking, hoping. The same thing Mandela said. I even feel a bit ashamed when I am writing this: I can feel very ‘unfree’ worrying about a lot less important things then being imprisoned, yet I can be totally occupied by it...mmm...some lesson to learn for sure!


I love the melting pot that Singapore is. It really feels like sweet harmony: all colours, races and sizes live here side by side. You can feel that very strong in the food markets we love to visit: both booth owners and visitors are a total representation of the rainbow. Yet also here there is another side to it. Our taxidriver tells about his daughter working at the airport and how much security training she gets. Being sandwiched in between Malaysia and Indonesia, the muslim community is in minority in Singapore, yet it is the majority in the area. ‘So there is always this tension’, the driver said. One illusion less. ‘Do you think there will be a third world war’, I asked Patrick. Yes for sure, he said. ‘And do you think we will live to be part of it?’. ‘Yes’. With Victor Frankl and Mandela still on my mind and this insight starting to kick in, I realised once again: I am so fucking lucky (or was it maktub?) that I was born in 1970, the year of the dog, in the Netherlands: one of the wealthiest, healthiest countries in the world. I have the responsability to live and use my freedom to the max, I owe that, the world, don’t I?

Love is all...


My grandmother is 98. Yesterday I was ringing her doorbell and my heart started beating harder when it wasn't answered. Every time that happens I get nervous: perhaps this is the day she decided to leave this world... Fortunately I could sneak in the building with somebody else and I quickly went to the coffee room. And there she was: in her beautiful new purple twinset, hair perfect, matching jewellery, in the middle of the group, shining. Her face lit up when she saw me: 'my oldest granddaughter!', she said with quite some pride in her voice.

I laughed, because I could give her her momentum, with audience, which she loves. Her granddaughter spontaneously passed by to give her Valentine flowers and two herrings.

I bought 5 flower bouquets and the flowerist glimpsed a second too long at me, but didn't say anything. I joked with him: 'so you think I have 5 Valentine's right :-)?'. 'Well', he said, 'I didn't want to ask, but I did wonder a bit'... I told him I do think Valentine day is mainly a commercial thing (at least, that is what my husband taught me, which might be an excuse ;-)), but nevertheless I decided to celebrate love this day, very consciously. And that I have quite a few women around me, without romantic love in their lives, so I decided to indulge them with these flowers.

Celebrating made me think about a colleague of mine in transformation land, who built his business around 'bringing back love in business'.  I started daydreaming: wouldn't it be great if business was run out of a place of love instead of power, shareholders interest or fear? I am convinced   it would be better and nicer for people, planet AND profit! I wrote one of my previous blogs about it, with the title: is business in need of more science or more love? In my opinion it is definitely love. Business people often challenge me: 'that happiness stuff you're talking about and trust as the basis for collaboration, isn't that a bit too flower power? I mean, it all sounds nice and lovely, but we have to make our targets, so we don't have time for it'. That is such a pity, because we don't live in the 60's anymore: it is 2018 and there is ample scientific research to underpin my statement. From companies that work with the happiness thought leadership, but also from independent research like Gallup does, that shows how a happier workforce is not only healthier for your employees, but also how productivity increases, branding is stronger and profit bigger. 

The basis of the very inspiring book on visions of transformation from all great world leaders, 'Imaginal cells' (by Kim Polman and Stephen Vasconcellos, for more info look at is 'The golden rule'. Treat others and the planet as you wish to be treated. Isn't that the basis of all religions, but also communities, families, businesses in the world? Love.

It took me half an hour to visit my grandmother on the way to a customer. It made her day and I felt my deep love for her: two great gifts with little effort. Where can you add a bit more love today: with your partner, at work, with your family, friends? Enjoy yourself living the golden rule! To me, love is all...

Circles and cycles

'What if time wouldn't exist?', my bonus daughter asked me randomly while driving her to the hockey field. 'What do you think the world would look like?'. 'Everything would be different', I said after a few minutes of silence, 'really everything; time is something we artificially invented'. The question resonated so much with me. Why? I know why, because lately I have been in quite a struggle with our crazy way of living....again. Cause that is a recurring thing in my life: about every 10 years it pops up. The feeling that the way we live crashes with my own inner system. Resistance. That inner system is longing for space, longing for moving along with the seasons, being able to go with the flow, living in the now, living love. But no, instead it is working like a madman (yes man, since that is quite a masculine energy ;-)) to be a super bonusmom, the ideal partner, the loving daughter(in law)/sister, the wise and fun friend and oh yeah...'work': working damn hard to fully live its purpose in the right way in the right place. Exhausting isn't it? 

In nature there is nothing that plans far ahead in such a lovely lineair way that we do. Imagine a lion planning a kill like we plan our christmas dinner two months in advance: 'where shall we plan to kill, what animal and who shall we invite to join this year?'. Nature is neither that demanding for itself nor for its surroundings, doesn't want more all the time and isn't unhappy. In nature everything just is. And nature is about cycles: seasons come and go, animals migrate following food, dark and light is a natural cycle, tides are a natural cycle. Life is about cycles. 

It was national holiday in Oman last month. Our taxi driver asked us if we were there especially for the occasion. No, but being a total firework fan, we would certainly not miss the opportunity to join. In our hotel I saw the question mark on the face of the receptionist: 'you want to go into the mountains tonight to this village to see the firework? But no tourist does'... Ah, even more reason to do it. So after a two dollar meal in a lovely local place with one dish on the menu, we went to a park where everybody would gather. And everybody did. Families with grandma's, kids, uncles, cooler boxes, chairs: all were sitting on the grass in the park. All sizes and colours of mostly muslims. We were the only white people. For two hours we sat somewhere in the middle of all these family circles without talking. I just felt love. Sometimes a little child came up to us to have a good look at these weirdo's, some women smiled at us, some men nodded at Patrick. We just were, pure love, part of the circle.  

Living in circles comes more natural with me than living in cycles. I love connecting to people, being part of communities. Living up to cycles, even my own, I find a lot harder. Yet every time I dare to listen and act on it, it turns out really well. So shouldn't I learn from that? When I was 27 my system resisted and I traveled New Zealand for two months: it was awesome and had huge impact. The first two weeks I sat on the veranda of my B&B, reading books (just because I felt like it). Everyday some other guest (attending the Avatar workshop there) would come and sit with me and tell their life story. The seed of my work in transformation was obviously planted. When I was 37 I took a sabbatical leave of 11 months, rented out my apartment in Amsterdam and traveled Europe and Africa, working in nature, following the seasons. Ski instructor in Austria, ranger in South Africa. Lots of space, nature, air, outdoors, fresh ideas. It was life changing and seeds were planted that are still blooming. Now I am 47...


Australia keeps popping up in my system. It makes me nervous. I don't live alone anymore: I have a husband and two kids. Ok, the kids are not mine and only halftime there, but I do feel and like having some responsibility as an educator, caretaker and friend. And I need space. My inner system is quite clear: are you gonna try and try harder to fit in all the boxes you always wanted to stay out of? Or are you gonna create the space you need to let come what is meant to emerge? It scares the hell out of me. I sometimes really don't understand what universe wants from me. That is bull shit by the way, that is resistance. I know very well that I am in exactly the right place, with the right husband, the right job, the right everything. The inner struggle is purely about accepting the next cycle and living by it. Am I able to let go and trust what will be, just like a tree, a season or an elephant does. Accept that is what is and follow my instincts. 

One of my fathers in law (I have/had two, lucky me :-)) passed away 7 weeks ago. He was 86, still in the middle of life, wrote a book last year and was an inspiring role model in lots of things: selfcare was one of them. This year he told me, at our dining table, that I should have a lot more 'shit on everything' (strange translation ;-): in Dutch he said: 'je moet veel meer schijt hebben aan alles'). I was very amused by the advise, coming from this distinguished old (-er, he hated being considered old) gentleman. But next to Australia (and spending a month at Texel in spring next year), this remark keeps popping up in my system as well. Apparently that is what I need to accept my own natural 10-year cycle and step into the next adventure that is calling me. By now, I should fully trust that I can let go and everything will be exactly perfect the way it will be...Just like all natural circles and cycles. 


Sparking queens

Queen Maxima. She walked up on the stage in a flashy red suit, big smile. 'Goedemorgen!' and 'good morning!' to you all. She did her talk on inclusive financing, in her own radiant way. In New York for two days, having 14 bilaterals of 20 minutes ('really nice to be able to focus efficiently', she said), two dinners, a few keynotes and a few meetings. It was the goalkeepers meeting that Bill and Melinda Gates had organised during the global goals week, a week ago. Goalkeeper, special advocate, motivator, inclusive, is how Maxima is being described. Inspirer, mom, beautiful clever female leader I'd like to add ;-). 

In the same week I organised the Amsterdam People's Hub. It was an experiment. As I love the power of the 'common people', the idea of a worldwide platform interacting around the 17 global goals was really appealing to me. I envisioned sharing best practices, learning from role models, co-creating and more by means of the innovative example the Global People Summit would set. The first surprise came when I learned I was the only People's Hub in the Netherlands...'Really!?', I thought, 'we are such a liberal, pioneering country, there must be more?'. In Europe there were only 2 hubs: Amsterdam and Greece. Then only 2 people joined mine... a bit disappointing. And then it became that friday itself: I lit the fire with the intention of creating a sacred, inspiring place to be part of the even so inspiring platform that would start around midday. Even if I would be on my own, I would hold that intention, I promised myself. 

I watched for about 2 hours and then it happened.... Yes, there were a few interesting interviews: mainly those with common people taking action, being interviewed by vloggers, you tubers, trendy people from this era. The form was not very innovative though: little video, interview, video, interview and all this in a studio with the global goals on the background. Ok, form isn't everything. Then he walked on the stage: the 'Head of Global Engagement' of the global goals organisation. Wow, what an important job he has! Wow, for such an important job he doesn't have a lot of presence, but hey...can't blame the guy for that. And then he started of the first sentences did it for me: most companies use the goals to show what they are already doing for the world, as kind of proof and measurement. Excuse me!? So we're fine?? This is exactly the opposite message of calling everybody to action, no matter how small that action is! This is about staying stuck in our institutionalised performance paradigm and getting away with windowdressing! The activist in me was alive and I can't imagine that he did that on purpose... I closed my laptop and continued the nice, exploring and honest conversation we were having so far about life, purpose and how to be of service to the world. 

What kept coming into my mind in the days thereafter are the famous words of Einstein (I think it was him): "What brought us here won't take us there". In other words: we cannot solve issues at the same level of consciousness and in the same way they were created. So perhaps it really is the right time for 'the common people' to take action, within our own little or big circle of influence. Those queens (yes, there were more of them and yes, in this context I also consider them as common people ;-)) were rolemodeling action in a very beautiful way. We can all be goalkeepers, we don't need the institution of the UN to take leadership as a human being and act. Oh, imagine if we could make the UN and other institutions act a bit more humble and have a real good look at the soooo many inspiring, successful initiatives and movements there are in the world! Imagine we could turn the pyramid upside down and learn, collaborate and accelerate from all the bottom-up action from the common people!

Next friday the Rotterdam School of Management (part of Erasmus university) is organising their yearly leadership summit. Topic this year: Business, a force for positive change. Maybe it is time for me to act more humble and spark the call for action among these hundreds of common people instead of judging this one poor guy at the UN, who probably works with the best intentions. Not maybe ;-).

So I will try to be a spark next friday, just like those queens were last week: planting seeds, motivate, challenge and inspire. And make sure I focus on my own circle of influence and explaining that little voice inside of me, that wants to cover the whole world, that focussing on your own circle, is what the world needs. 


The art of parenting

Being a stepmom, without having 'produced' children myself with my own biological features, makes me belong to a vulnerable species. Everybody involved has an opinion on how you should, or should not, behave as a parent. Especially all parents do and there are a lot of parents in the world, biological parents. It is actually quite funny: becoming a parent (if your body is allowing you to and you meet the right co-parent, or the other way around...;-)) seems to be the easiest thing in the world... You just have a very pleasurable experience that lasts in between 3 and 11 minutes on average (says scientific research), wait for 9 months and've just won the title of parent for the rest of your life! There are not a lot of other roles in life that are gained with so little effort and without any doubt. And there you have your purpose for life, you can build your whole identity, who you are, around it and a lot of people do, especially moms. 

So towards the summer holiday I always get a bit nervous. What do I want to do with the three weeks of holidays we will have with the kids? Will I come along on the entire holiday? Do I take the lead in organising? Shall we take friends? How do I make sure my needs are also met? And, most important of all, how will my husband Patrick and I manage as co-parents 24/7, loving, caring and educating in such different ways? Now, I do understand the last one is a very big one, also for biological parents that are going on holiday with their 'own' kids. Managing parenthood while running around between schools, offices, sporting clubs, friends and family is a totally different ballgame. On holiday, being a parent is the only thing that is left from your busy life and I know that is a challenge for a lot of people, especially dads. 


Being very conscious about my role as a stepmom, this year I decided to fully step into it and show myself as I am during holiday. I believe that is the most inspiring and also kids need inspiration, especially after a busy school year. So with a lot of care I arranged for us to go to Panama, where we had met this lovely couple running the B&B we were staying at. We agreed the kids and Patrick would do their Padi open water there, so that we can take them along wherever we are and show them the beauty and importance of the underwater world. And of course we would visit a native village to show them the different way of living of the biggest part of the population in the world (and of course I couldn't keep myself from explaining once again, that being raised in Holland makes them part of only 1% of the world that is really wealthy and how that explains my sadness and/or anger if they say 'we've got nothing to do', sitting on the couch with an iPad and phone in their hands, a big garden to play football and a trampoline that is hardly ever carried away a bit there ;-)). 

I couldn't have dreamt it to be the holiday it turned out to be. We were the only family staying in the B&B, so we got a whole little island to ourselves and all the love and care from Sue and David, the lovely couple running the place. The talks, dogs, fun, the walk at their self-built house in the jungle, the way they treated the kids, rolemodeling respect, inspiration, authenticity. It made me so happy, so close to myself and therefor very close to being a 'real' parent. 

On return Patrick and I had dinner with my grandma, turning 98 in November. She enjoyed the chinese food we brought and loved being able to talk about her three kids, that are all facing their own issues at the moment. She asked for our advice, whether or not she should write a letter to one of her sons about some of her worries. We had a lovely dinner as three parents discussing the best ways to support in a caring way without opposing yourself. 

Now, at this very moment, a lot of parents are returning to their working roles, called jobs. Back to the safety of the fulness of life. Wouldn't it be lovely if everybody would take some of that art of parenting into their working place and behave as human, loving, caring and inspirational as possible? After all, the art of parenting, I think, doesn't come with biological children, but comes with our being human and able to love and care for the people around us. Why shouldn't we try the same at work? Might be fun!


True leadership...

We need true leaders in the has always been a hot topic. Yet, in the era we live in, it is becoming hotter and hotter: what is true leadership though? I was at a concert of Anouk a few weeks ago...that woman rocks!! Clearly she is living her best self singing in front of an enthusiastic audience. She is so authentic. She didn't talk a lot; she didn't need to, her singing was breathtaking. In the middle of the concert she did shortly speak with one clear message: don't judge other people too easily, because quite often (always?) we find out we are wrong. It was so powerful. She didn't wait for a reaction, she was not attached to whatever the audience thought, she just continued singing, which made her message even more powerful. In the depth of enjoying the music, her message sank in..

Words are so overrated. I made jokes about it with my new made friend, while evaluating our silent retreat in the desert of the Wadi Rum in Jordan. We met in the bus, she asked me one question (whether or not I would like to sleep with her in the desert, share a tent that is ;-)) and then we became friends while being silent for an entire week. The theme of the retreat was: 'True leadership is mastering authenticity'. It turned out to become a very important motto in my life. We 'lived' the iceberg model during that week: only 10% of our visible behaviour being words ...we could easily do without and connect the other 90% of our beings in total silence. She still is a very dear friend, I think because our friendship is anchored at a very deep level of trust, love and just being.

Last week Trump decided to initiate a 'clusit' (climate US exit), meaning the US left the climate agreement that was so powerfully made in 2015... More than 150 countries in the world taking their responsibility for something huge: how to treat mother Earth in a better way, collaberatively. I was flabbergasted: could it be true that one person, one person alone, representing one of the biggest polluters causing global warming, could just decide to stop and have such an impact?? I loved the vision that a lot of people immediately shared on the leadership of Trump: by being the total ego that he is, he is creating such an important movement among a big group of people globally...which is exactly the opposite of his goal of 'making America great again'. So should we consider that as leadership too? In the end, leadership is about serving and it might very well be, that he is serving the world big time with his unconscious, egoistic behaviour. 

And then Manchester happened: I was at the same concert of Ariana Grande not even a year ago in Amsterdam with my niece. What world do we live in if the young generation is targeted at places where they should be able to feel safe and enjoy life, art. This week I heard about this one muslim guy and his hugging action in Manchester, just on his own in the street. I looked it up in youtube Without fear, totally vulnerable, he stands in a street, blindfolded with a sign asking people to trust and hug him. What happens is amazing, have a look yourself at the video.

Tomorrow I will leave for a leadership journey myself. I am one of the lucky bastards to spend time in the nature of the Hiawatha Forest in Michigan led by the native americans living in that area. I am most of all really looking forward to learn from their leadership, just by being with them. Because to me it is most inspiring to see people being so authentic, that that, by itself, is the biggest teaching in leadership. Truly mastering authenticity. Is that 'all it takes' to be a true leader? I love that idea, because then leadership is not a big theme for 'them' who are in leadership positions and have to solve the big issues in the world. Then I can just serve the world by continuously developing my own leadership, making sure I am as authentic as possible to do my part in the whole. 


Is mother Earth in need of more science or more love?

There we one of the many beautiful places that earth provides, on the top of a hill in the jungle, the cemetery of the Kuna, the first native people of Panama. Now I have seen a lot of sacred cemeteries around the world, from Paris to Buenos Aires. But this beautiful humble nature spot and the intimate story of how the Kuna community bury their people made a huge impression. These people live so close to nature like, I feel, we're meant to be! When a Kuna man or woman dies, he or she is laid down in a hammock at the 'soon to be' grave for one day. A spiritual guide (a human person) will be sitting next to it, so that the spirit can leave the body whenever ready and knows where to go. The physical proof of this human life, the body, will be given back to mother Earth. The hammock with the body will be hanged in a big hole in the ground, just like a baby hangs in his womb in the mother. The hole is covered with wood and then a belly of earth is made, so that everybody can tell mother Earth is pregnant from this body. Every morning the women of the community come and visit: making coffee, food and chat, showing respect to their ancestors and mother Earth. 

A week before our holiday, I attended a guided nature meditation with 200 people outside in the forest. Prinses Irene was our guide. Total silence and connectivity among all these human beings connecting to nature. Prinses Irene invited us to the first question: what do you need from earth? And then the second question came: what does earth need from you? So simple and yet we question ourselves enough what earth needs from us or are we so stuck in consumerism, that this obvious question doesn't even pop up in our minds anymore?

Our diving in Bocas del Toro started with an extensive eco briefing, unlike I had ever experienced. It was not about the common 'you will probably see this or that fish if you are lucky'. No, it was an extensive respectful lecture on the importance of coral for our ecosystem in the world, how it grew in hundreds of millions of years in the evolution, how we (people) managed to destroy it in only some 300 years, how vulnerable it is, its skin being as thin as hair, what the function is of sea cucumbers etc etc.. We were listening to the passionate owner of the diving school, a Canadian marine biologist with an obvious mission to make as many people aware of the importance of our oceans for our global ecosystem, for all life. I was even more in awe than normally when diving, watching the miracle of an ecosystem that totally balances itself, that is if we wouldn't interfere...

Mother Earth doesn't talk, at least not in a way that we understand or listen to. She also doesn't judge. Yes, she is reacting to what we do to her, but she is not telling us it is right or wrong, it just is. Fortunately there are people like the Kuna, princess Irene, marine biologists and many many more, that put all their love into teaching about the importance of respecting and loving earth. After all, 'we don't 'own' the earth, we only borrow it from our children', that's what earth keepers try to teach us. Thus the importance of taking care of earth for the next 7 generations. 

Tomorrow is worldwide Earthday. In the US and also Netherlands there will be marches for science... I do believe scientific research helps in understanding what we need to do to take a bit better care of mother Earth. But how would earth look like if we would all understand the importance of loving earth in our own circle of influence and if we would all spread that message?