Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Getting better

In my last blog, I wrote about the fears that I'm facing nowadays of not succeeding, of not becoming what I want to be. It' still a daily battle to conquer these thoughts.

When I decided to leave my job, the first obvious questions someone would ask upon hearing the news was: 'so what are you going to do?' Whenever I answered that I wanted to become a documentary film maker ánd a graphic designer, the other person would frown and ask: 'Oh, are you going to film school?' or: 'Are you doing a course at art school?' or: 'How are you going to do both?'.
I wasn't planning to go to school again, I just wanted to give it a try with the experience I had so far, and I had no clue how to do both. So being put on the spot like that would easily put me in a state of panic.

What was I thinking? I have asked myself the same questions over and over again: how can I do something I am not educated in? In the Netherlands, having the 'right' education is very important, or at least, so it seems. Thinking of a career in high school or changing your career later in life is always connected to having 'the right education' to be successful. However, looking at the people around me, most are doing something else than what they are educated to do.

Being confronted with the American way of thinking made me realize that there are other ways to look at this: you can do whatever you want, as long as you work hard for it. The American Dream. Obviously, this concept has a lot of downsides to it, but I really love the American reaction to my new career: 'That's great, what kind of movies do you want to make?' 'Cool, what do you design?' 'Nice that you are able to combine these things!'.

I am still working on becoming what I want to be. But I must admit that looking at the possibilities, instead of the obstacles is definitely more empowering. I still compare myself to all the people who have had the 'right' education, or have a lot of experience, and it always puts me down. How can I live up to their level? Then I saw this inspiring video, and I realized: I don't have to be great right now. I just have to get better. And the only way to do that is to work on it. Which is exactly what I've been doing this last year.

A year after quitting my job, I'm at the point where I call myself a beginning graphic designer and film maker. Which is more than just wanting to become one. And I'm starting to realize that this is ok for now. Instead of comparing myself to other people in the field - who are obviously mostly more experienced - I try to compare myself with me, a year ago. And I look at all the things I've done, and I've worked on. And even though my fears still will tell me it's not good enough, I do know it is better than before.

Click to see the video

Monday, January 27, 2014

Letting go

Without trying to be negative or melancholic, lately, I have had this feeling that it is all about letting go. And no, I haven't read any of the Dalai Lama books, nor did I do any Mindfulness course and I didn't visit any psychologist or shrink either.
The only thing I actually try to do, is listen to my body. And if there's one thing my body is telling me - apart from the daily messages about food, sleep and the more private needs one needs to give in to several times a day - it is that it doesn't want to let go.

I never expected this to be a physical feeling. But it's there. A very strong feeling that reminds me of when I was young, and my brother and I were fighting. I would sit with my back against my bedroom door, and my feet against my desk, hands flat on the floor to push, to prevent him from coming in. Now it's the other way around and I'm sitting in the same pose, trying to keep things from leaving the room.

So what the hell am I talking about? Almost a year ago, I quit my job and started the insecure life of being a freelancer. Part of that life is having to let go of things, the steady income obviously being the first. I also expected to have to let go of my life style of drinking vast amounts of coffee with friends, going out for dinner on a regular basis, and just not thinking of money that much. That definitely has changed. With less money coming in, one needs to be more conscious about how to spend it. Nothing wrong with that.

But over the last year, I also had to let go of other things, that in one way or the other had to do with the choices I've made. Letting go of people who were a big part of my life, letting go of ideas about my life that I wasn't even aware of: suddenly I saw myself at the age of 35 and realized: this wasn't what I pictured when I was 10. I have no idea what it was that I pictured, but it wasn't this, that is for sure!

One of the most important things I had to let go of is my own mindset. Honestly, I'm still working on that. To convince other people of my qualities, to do what I want to do, I first have to believe it myself. Which is harder than I thought. Once in a while, I find myself mentally blocking the door with my feet against the desk.
And the biggest obstacle: fear. Because, that is what it is all about. Fear of not succeeding, fear of not being able to do things, fear of loosing people, fear of the unknown life that lies ahead, fear of not drinking enough coffee with friends. Fear makes you tense, it makes you feel like your stuck with your feet pressed against the desk, and your back against the door.

So I have been carefully trying to let go of things, not to resist. I am trying to pull up my legs little by little, so they're not pressed against the desk anymore. If somthing need to leave the room, it can go. It might come back, or something else might walk in. You never know what's going to happen once the door is open...

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Travel trouble

At the end of 2013, I left my country for the fourth time in that year. Traveling is great. I love to be 'on the road', in the no mans land of airports and train stations, where you can be a part of the mass that is moving from a to b. The small rituals of traveling; the passport control, the moment they start serving the meals in the plane, the strange smells and colours that come with new destinations. And finally the discoveries of a new world, in which you have to figure out how things are working.

Traveling is great, but there's a down side to it. The more I travel, the more I become aware of it. Custom officers who suspiciously treat you like your a fortune seeking who won't ever leave the country again. The notion of the enormous amount of plastic that is involved with those airplane meals. Flying itself, which makes every other environmental choice I make totally worthless. The frustration that comes along with discovering a new place when thing are different - and hence often illogical - than at home.

It's not a solution to crawl under a stone in Amsterdam and never to pack my passport and undies again. So I decide not to get intimidated by custom officials and I choose not to enter the body scan. And even though the cons of flying are big on the environment, to me they still are not bigger than reaching that final destination far from home. So I compensate by buying trees (which is also a dubious business) and I carry a canvas bag and a coffee mug with me at all times (also when not flying).
The frustrations of exploring a new place will stay, but eventually they will give you new insights and they will teach you that there are several ways to get things done.

Traveling is great. But I do believe that is a good thing to realize that there are two sides to it. Whatever you do with that knowledge is up to you.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

New love

He is funny.
He is intelligent.
He is musical.
He is dramatic.
He is reasonable.
He is sexy.
He is exciting.
He is great.

The occasional address he gave in Perth in September was the first thing I saw of him. Then I saw Rock and Roll Nerd, a documentary from 2008 in which he transforms from a nice, shy and starting comedian into a rock star/comedian/composer/actor. After that, I got lost in the endless (but unfortunately still limited) amount of youtube films. I am living in the world of Tim Minchin and I want to stay here forever.

Again and again, I am struck by the combination of his musicality and his, imbued with intelligent messages, songs and jokes. Both the sounds and the content move me. I would like to keep all of this to myself, so I don't have to share his world with others. But in fact, he is already very famous and I am never the first to discover someone or something. So I turn into a desciple and preach the gospel of Minchin.

My friends roll their eyes when I tell them my stories. My enthusiasm and devotion are not connecting with them. They watch the things I show them, but they don't believe me. They know about my missionary zeal or the never ending dedication with which I lovingly and vigorously focus myself on new discoveries. They already have wondered about my fascinations and do so now again.

So I remain alone in Tim Minchins world. In which god and jezus are not a taboo, in which lovely lullabies are actually not so sweet, in which nothing is taken for granted and in which love, involvement and humour predominate. If you're looking for me, this is where I am.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Now what?

Why would you quit your job in these times? Didn't you like your job? Why would you walk away from all those securities and submit yourself to an adventure that is only guided by uncertainty? What are you doing now? What do you want to do? How are you going to handle this? What are you plans exactly? And... how do you earn your money now?

These are a few of the questions I got since I quit my job last Feburary, both from friends and from people I've just met. The strangers are easy to distract by asking them about their own work/job/life purpose/hobby. It's harder to talk about something different with friends and acquaintances. They want to know the ins and outs. They want to try to understand what I am doing. Often, this causes a lot of stress for them, that they directly fire back at me.
My honest answer to their questions is: I don't know. I am on a search, and I want to do a lot of things. But I don't know what or how or where. I was looking forward to do 'something else', but I don't have a clue what that is supposed to be. But not having a clue is not the right answer in a world where the economic crisis, melting polar ice and impending wars are a constant threat. There are too many uncertainties already, why the hell would you create even more?

Creating a new life is not easy. Not without stress. Not relaxed. But the vacuum that occurs when all the certainties disappear, leads to new ideas and new plans. I have to get used to the fact that 'everything' is possible again. I myself, and not my incoming mail, will decide what my day is going to be like. Of course there is money to be earned. Of course there are bills to be paid. But fortunately, the bills are relatively low, as is the money. So they cancel each out, which leaves time. Time to figure out 'Now what?'.

I'm not alone in this situation, I knew that. Next Monday, (October 7), the Dutch documentay show Backlight airs an episode about 'my generation' and how it 'handles the crisis that influences them in a time that is about carreer, founding a family and thinking about the future'. Everyone who asked me
one of the above questions perhaps should watch Backlight first. Then we'll talk.

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Tuesday, June 4, 2013


The music documentaries are always the highlight of my IDFA adventure. Last year however, none of the music films I wanted to see fit my tight schedule. They had to compete against documentaries about the financial crisis, Afghanistan and other terrible issues.

So, I missed Big Easy Express, a film that made me incredible happy at a later time. Imagine: three (quite famous) folk bands, in a train, crossing America.

It's so simple. And so much fun. And so nice. After having crossed the US from east to west and from west to east, both over land, I started loving films in which this happenes.

The bands: Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Old Crow Medicine Show and Mumford & Sons.
The journey: from San Fransisco to New Orleans.
The music, the train, the drinks, the skies.

You don't need more to become very happy and ready to pack your bags and become a traveling musician. Untill then, and while awaiting the beginning of summer, I strongly advise you to watch the film. So you'll be prepared once you'll hit the road.

Friday, May 24, 2013


For days, I've been trying to find the right words to persuade the people that actually read my blog, in case it is necessary to persuade them, to join the world wide protest against Monsanto tomorrow (Saturday). In my head, I hear the critical voices of friends that wonder why I get wound up over this, and I can see my friends with children using their Saturday to finally clean up the house and getting their weekly groceries. I totally understand how busy they are, and ask myself: how can I explain the importance of this to them?

By explaining to them who or what Monsanto is?
(A huge multinational from the US that once started producing chemical weapons (like Agent Orange) and has been focussing on GMO products.)

By explaining why their work method is wrong on so many fronts?
(- Farmers have to buy their seeds on a yearly basis and whenever an individual farmer by accidents gets Monsanto's seeds on his field, he still has to pay them for property rights.
- Monsanto's genetically modified seeds can only grow when they are sprayed with Roundup, a pesticide that destroys everything and is very harmfull for people and nature.
- GM products were only used for feed for cattle and pigs - which then already led to deformed animals and many deseases, but is now also used for our own food, which brings along those symptoms to the human world.)

By talking about the power of multinationals and the European Union, who is not putting the needs of its people first?
(After years of lobbying by Monsanto and American diplomats, the EU has written a law which, apart from studies about GMO products and their effects on our health, prohibits the use of non-approved seeds in the European Union. This means many European seeds races will disappear and in time you will be violating the law when you trade some seeds with your neighbours.)

By explaining that it is really time for us to wake up, rise up and tell our governments that we, the poeple, have an opinion that should be heard, as a democracy implies?

Whenever I started writing, I lost the courage. Who am I to tackle this huge subject and give enough objective information, so my friends will stop their busy lives and fight for a greater cause? While reading and watching all the information I could find online, I realized I don't need to use my words: others have done it much better. (The quotes above come from the Dutch March Agains Monsanto Amsterdam Facebook Page.)

So hereby, I call for your attention! Take some time and surf the net. Read, watch films and try to educate yourself about the world we live in. If you still don't see any need for action, then don't do anything. But if you happen to feel discomfort, a feeling of disbelief, anger and the will to take action, then do something. Be like a hummingbird in a burning fire (see the second film).

And be inspired by Rachel Parent, who really believes in what she's doing!

Wake up!