Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Breaking the daily grind

This morning, just like every weekday, my alarm rang at 6.40 AM. Only this time I didn't get up for breakfast and get on the 8.03 train to The Hague Central Station. No, today I got up to get down on it at Morning Gloryville Amsterdam. This early morning rave (which of course first started in London) was held at Club Lite, which just happens to be across the street from my place. Surrounded by people who were dressed in fitness gear, barefoot, in full party attire, high heals or pajamas's, I woke up with a beat.

For me, the idea of working from nine to five in my field is old-fashioned, mostly because I personally do not function well sitting behind a computer or in meetings for eight hours straight (who does?). Of course, it comes in handy to be at the office when colleagues are there too, but sometimes working alone late at night is what I need a lot more. The daily grind does not inspire me even though I am often in good company on the train and even try to liven it up with sweet notes to fellow commuters. In Jakarta, I always asked my motorbike driver to take a different route to work, just to tickle my brain a bit...

Luckily, my current employer is flexible and supports people to try out other ways of working. So, I ended up on the dance floor with two colleagues this morning at 7. Thus far, I have worked like a machine! Maybe it's because I've had a chance to my shake up my week, loosen up my body and laugh out loud - all before 9AM.

Reporters from the Dutch news were there too!
No, YOU're amazing!
Butterfly taking a break

Massage and yoga on spot
Yeah, hugs!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

May 2014 be as funky as 2013 was!

Happy new year! May 2014 bring you lots of happiness, compassion and love.

As I always do during the last days of the year, I looked back on the previous year. Overall conclusion: 2013 was a very good year. I spent quality time with the people I love, met a lot of new and inspiring people in the most amazing locations and learned a lot. I learned for instance how to keep on walking with feet covered in blisters and a fever that made me delirious.

The things I am most proud of:
  • Walked more than 650 kilometers to Santiago de Compostela 
  • Wrote about 100 lieve brieven 
  • Put up a Dreamboard with Liliane 
  • 'Married' my friends Brittany and Philippe (I officiated the ceremony)
  • Organised (and presented) an Ignite event 
  • Started driving lessons again 
  • Ate a grasshopper
Some other highlights:
  • Visited London with my sister Ayla
  • Learned about critical connections with Gibran (in Nicaragua)
  • Went on the camino (with its own highlights: the first albergue, Paul's last dinner, foodie day with Suzanne, the preacher, meeting Johnny Redsocks, arriving in Santiago)
  • Being in Porto with Pim
  • Visiting Kanchanaburi and the Saxophone bar in great company
  • Did a Sweat Lodge with the fantastic Angelique 
  • Learned about being centered and strong all around through practicing Taikiken
In 2013 I got to know some people I already knew a lot better, for which I am very grateful. Also I met a lot of new remarkable people in 2013. Thank you for making 2013 such a fantastic adventure!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Five lessons learned from the camino

Even though I had promised to keep you all updated of my progress during my walk to Santiago de Compostela, I did not. Surprisingly enough, I really did not feel like sharing my experiences while I was still walking. I just wanted to enjoy the moment, and take time to digest everything. And guess what? I MADE IT! I walked about 650 kilometers and arrived in Santiago strong and deeply touched (read: crying like a baby).

It was the most amazing experience! For 28 days I walked. I got up between 6 and 7, had a cafe con leche with toast or a chocolate croissant and went on the road. Every day I walked 20 to 30 kilometres in about 6 hours. Every day I sang this song, waking up some of my fellow pilgrims:

People ask me if I have seen the light in Spain or if I have turned Christian and the answer is that I haven't. However, I did pick up some pieces of wisdom from the great people I met along the way. Here are five lessons I learned during my camino:

1. If blisters are your worst problem, your life is pretty good
On the camino life is brought done to the basics. You walk, eat, sleep and walk again. What you need is a strong and healthy body. If you have a blister (or two, or three), walking suddenly becomes a lot less fun. Even though I walked out of a village crying behind my sunglasses because of my blister pain, I could still see that this was not the end of the world. So, I said thanks. Every day. For all the good stuff in my life; the fantastic people I met, my own strong (!) body, the support from my friends and family back home. It's good to be able to see things in perspective.

2. Always trust the yellow arrows
Every day you follow the yellow arrows that are painted on walls and trees everywhere. Sometimes they appear just as you start to get worried you may have missed a turn. Steve Jobs says he connected the dots looking back, meaning that his choices in life only started to make sense to him afterwards. The yellow arrows on the camino made me realise that it's important to trust that things will make sense. In the end we will arrive somewhere cool knowing that what mattered was the journey, and so when we feel lost we can trust a yellow arrow will eventually appear.

3. Unfollow patterns
A rigid kind of discipline ruled on some parts of the camino. There was one hostel where the staff came barging in at 6.25 saying that we had to get up and have breakfast, because we needed to be out the door by 8. The lady even squeezed my friend's toe saying that she slept way too long! The routine was: get up, pack your bag, tape the toes (or any other hurt body part), and walk. Walk fast so that you could arrive early at the next hostel and secure a bed. Some people were quite stressed and after two weeks I decided to not be stressed out by them. Yes, I got up early and walked my part every day, but I realized I did not want to just do what we mostly do in our daily lives; go with the routine and forget about our purpose.

4. Let go
My first days on the camino I spent fantasizing about throwing away or sending back items for my backpack as it was breaking my back. It was about eight kilos and I wanted it lighter. It kept me busy for hours and hours in a row. I couldn't stop thinking about it. Until I did. After that, I hardly felt the bag during the last weeks. Somehow I had gotten used to the weight and was able to let go.

5. Make friends
My camino was about many things, but more than anything it was about making friends. I met some fantastic people I hung out with a lot. We had great conversations, lots of fun, went through hardship together and became camino families in the end. I cannot wait to go again...

Here my friend Vicky and me sing 'We are going', the song she sang introducing herself at the firsthostel we stayed at.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Slowly turning into a pilgrim

It’s still hard to believe, but I am off. The past weeks, I have prepared; finished my work, went on a couple of walks, had a physical therapist look at my knee (there’s nothing wrong with it!) and bought or borrowed all the necessary stuff.
Everyone has been very supportive and have been telling me how cool and couragious I am for doing this. I am not sure whether this is particularly helpful, because I feel quite intimidated. Me, unexperienced and not sportive, trying a thing like this. Well, at Rotterdam airport from where I write you I already overhear other ‘pilgrims’ talking and I feel excitement run through my vains. I am ready for it, so yes: I am really doing this! My objective: go with the flow, listen to my body and be in the moment. That’s all.

Even though I tried to keep it light, I carry 7 kilo’s (I aimed for 5). Honestly speaking, I am a bit disappointed in myself. In my opinion I have let go of any idea of wanting to look good and still don’t know which of my stuff I could get rid off, weightwise. For those interested in the details, this is what I have with me:

A lightweight sleeping bag
A silk sleeping bag (in case it gets hot, I can send home the sleeping bag)
One pair of long trousers
One pair of shorts
One pair of threequarter running tights
One pair of ‘fishermans pants’
A legging
One t-shirt for sleeping (cotton)
Two shortsleeved shirts
One longsleeved shirt
One armless top
A windstopper
A fleece sweater
A raincoat

My walking shoes
Extra soles (more support)
Walking sticks

A hat
A shawl (that can also serve as a sarong)

Shower cream

Arnica pills
T3 oil
Nose spray

Blister band-aids
Magic desinfecting powder from India
- in ziplock bags inside a waterproof pouch

Travel pouch
A little black Moleskine book
My iPhone
Extra battery
Security pins (for hanging laundry)
Water pouch

I will soon let you know which things I have left behind :)

Saturday, April 13, 2013

An ode to Marieke

In the past two weeks, through work, I have met four amazing Dutch women, all by the name of Marieke, albeit written in differently in one case (Mariken). Over lunch in Costa Rica the father of my colleague asked me what that weird name was we kept on repeating. He thought we said 'Marika' which in Spanish is colloquial for 'gay'. But in Colombia (or at least in Cartagena) they use it to refer to anyone, not always in the most positive way. In the Netherlands, however, it's a very normal name. Whether you think it's a weird name or not, Mariekes rock!
An assignment Marieke made me do.
Marieke is a passionate Design Thinker and devotes all her time to helping people think differently in order to come up with solutions to their problems or to invent new things. She told me she does not separate working hours from leisure time, because she loves what she does so much. Mariken bursts with energy and great ideas. She is an entrepreneur that brings people together in order to make the world a better place. Our first encounter lasted three days, as we kept on running into each other. Nice detail: she was the 200th 'liker' of Meer Lieve Brieven. Marieke is a player. Not with men, or well, I don't know her that well yet. Playing and helping others to play more is her thing. She's started the 'Speelkwartiertjes Club', an open group of people that play a fifteen minute daily game online on her cue. Dutchies: Join us! Marieke lives in Costa Rica, but she was born and (partially) raised in Indonesia. She abandoned the world of do-gooders to work in the private sector for a while, but is now back to facilitate workshops differently and to get people out of their comfort zones.

Thank you, ladies, for inspiring me. This one is for you.

*This is not even mentioning some of the other cool Mariekes I know. For instance: Marieke founded Ubuntu and now teaches fantastic Kundalini yoga classes in Amsterdam.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Pessimism as a driving force?

Recently, I wrote about my granddad Tjibbe, and how much he enjoys his daily dose of sambal. Even though Boersma's indeed like it hot and in general have quite a good dose of self mockery, we are also a bit heavyhearted at times. I know this might be hard to imagine given my mostly (often, sometimes) cheerful disposition. But I think it can be said: We Boersma's are a bunch of pessimists.

My dad with my sister Ayla, pessimists?
Just last week I went out for a very lively and tasty dinner with my dad and I realized that he seems to have given up on the world - in the sense that he cannot see what he could contribute to change course. I had quite recently also almost done so, but have slightly regained faith (because of initiatives such as Your Lab and podcasts like this one by Chris Turner on TVO). To be honest, I am in part to blame for my dad's dark outlook on the future; I gave him 'Guns, Germs and Steel', a book by Jared Diamond describing how humans have been pursuing commercial gain and bringing forth destruction since the beginnings of history. I have not yet read the book - even though every time I see my dad, he tells me to. So, I guess I should. I did already read another book by Mister Diamond and it did not really cheer me up.

Goofy and happy (with drop, THE best Dutch invention ever), yet downright pessimists
While riding my bike home, I realized that yes, the odds seem to be against us as a humankind. We have created islands of plastic, are consuming much more than the environment can handle and have created an economic system that seems beyond repair. Of course, my dad is right in many ways: we cannot all live lavish lives and solve our global issues at the same time. I know he's right about the hypocrisy in me, in so many of us - we do want it all. But, instead of sitting around waiting for the world to end, I would rather do something more fun and rewarding. It could be organizing massive street games so we can go down playing. Or something to try to prevent the end of the world from happening anytime soon.

One of my recurring thoughts is to start a re-fill shop. This would be a place where you can come with your empty bottles and fill them up with shampoo, dish soap, olive oil or soy sauce. You can bring jars and fill them with rice, pasta, salt or dried beans. It'll be a tiny little thing, but heck, it's something. So, let's get to work. Who's with me on the re-fill shop?

Only if you can handle it: Jared Diamond on "Why Societies Collapse?"

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Mind my business, please. Don't worry, I will yours!

You know, I have had it. I am fed up with weird behaviour. Yes, 'weird' may be a rather subjective term, and yes, there is also a good type of weird - so allow me to clarify. Taking the train in Holland every day confronts me with some forms of human interaction, which to me seem wrong. Just plain wrong. People try not to sit near to each other, keep interaction to the lowest possible minimum and often are not even polite. It's awkward, unfriendly or even rude. I have started writing sweet letters in the first place to remind myself that we can also choose to be nice to each other. Just because we can.

A good kind of weird! (by Miriam van Oort)
Just now, I was on the train with my mother (after visiting my grandmother, a 2,5 hour train ride, one-way) and a girl in the four-seater opposite us, had her feet on the chairs in front of her. A lady came in and asked her very friendly if she could take them down. The girl responded "Why, there's enough space on the train, no?" and when the lady insisted that shoes on chairs made them dirty and that the girl's reaction was not very social, the girl replied "Don't have anything better to do than bug me? Don't you have a life?". I then could not take it anymore and was reminded of my pledge to mind other people's business. I said "Stop acting so weird! The lady asks you nicely if you want to take your shoes down". The girl put her earplugs back in and pretended we all were not there. 

I am sick and tired of this. I don't want to be part of a society in which people interact this way. The girl's behaviour was weird, but what I find even weirder is that normally, no one would support the complaining lady. They would pretend not to hear anything and simply look away. THAT, to me, is the weirdest part! Maybe my pledge will get me into trouble (in this case, I knew there were two guys behind us and I had made eye contact with the Spanish couple in front AND I am taking Chinese boxing classes - in other words, I was not scared of an attack) and maybe I will not keep my pledge when it concerns a group of four big men - but I just want to make a plea:

Please, let's mind each other's business again… Let's stand up for one another, take care of one another. Yes? Okay, good.

Footnote: Right after this incident the train conductor informed us that a passenger was having a heart attack and that he needed a doctor. The Spanish guy appeared to be one, so we went to help out (Me as the translator obviously. What else?). There were two other doctors on the train (how is that possible?), but I was happy with my pledge now. By telling the Spaniards why the train wasn't moving (and minding their business), he could have saved a life (in this case, hopefully others did). 

About the situation of my poor grandma, the state of our Dutch healthcare system and the way our society treats the elderly, I will rant some other time. But I did shed a tear about it. Sad.