Reflection is a powerful exercise to facilitate personal growth. Since my birthday is in January, reviewing the year aligns with looking back at my personal year too.
I’m about to turn 28, and my 27th has been a somewhat of a relieve. It was much better than my 25th and 26th mostly spent being ill. My energy is finally returning slowly, and I’m able to do much more than I used to. I even spent six months abroad this year! Hopefully things will keep turning in the right direction for me during the coming years.
Let me take you through some highlights of my year – not in any logical order.
At the start of 2017, I finally made an effort to celebrate my birthday again and invite friends over. The past few years were very shitty and depressing for me, so it was important to get myself back on track and actually create space for people to celebrate me! Even though I found it nerve wrecking to get very different people who don’t know each other together, I still did it and this way allowed myself to receive love and attention.
I followed my crazy Mad Woman intuition and made the plan to go to India for six months or longer. The month of January was spent entirely on preparation. My work quit me (this time not because of me!) and I spent every single day working a list of basically everything I had ever postponed. Since I wouldn’t be able to arrange things from India, I just wanted to get everything done. Even the most horrible things I had been postponing for years, and the ones that make me feel nervous.
It was not very exciting, but it was only one month and it enabled me to spend the whole year without much stress and worries. I highly recommend sorting your life out every once in a while with full dedication and resisting the urge to postpone. JUST DO IT!
I traveled to India for six months, following a vision I had the year before. This plan really stressed me out for a while, as it made me feel nervous in all kinds of ways. I kept from booking the flight for a really long time. It was particularly hard to leave my grandmother who needs a lot of care and is not doing well at all, thinking it would be selfish to leave her. When in India, I only had a plan for the first month of my time there. The uncertainty about the future really struck me, and I spent a lot of time thinking what the next months would bring. As my word for 2017 was ‘trust’, I just had to do exactly that. Trust.
My Tarot card for 2017 was the Hanged Man. It means time for retreat, reflection, travel. And that’s exactly what I did. I spent a lot of time in silent retreats on dedicated meditation schedules. This was something I definitely found scary at first. But now that I know I can actually spent 10 days in silence and not lose it and go mad, I gained some confidence on my abilities to deal with my often intense inner processes. Seriously proud of myself for doing this courageous work!
I learned a lot about Buddhism, ecology, organic farming, tantra, reiki, ancient skills, states of consciousness and skills of meditation. I loved the focus on personal development and spiritual growth, rather than productivity, earning money and doing capitalism.
Connecting to people was very easy, and it made me feel amazing. There was much less of the individualism I know in Northern Europe. Go out for breakfast by yourself, and return 8 hours later from a jeep trip around the mountains with the people who sat next to you in the restaurant.
In India, for many people reincarnation is basically a fact. I loved the crazy stories by Buddhist monks looking for the next reincarnation of their teacher who passed away, only to return as a baby, bodies disappearing into nothing and turning into rainbows because of perfected meditation skills, and so on. So much less boring than the atheist, rationalist culture I come from. Bring on the magic!
However, so many days were totally shitty as well. Because of the water, I was sick nearly half of my travels. A lot came up for me during retreats, the night, in dreams and in relation to others, and it has not always been an easy “holiday” – but rather some sort of therapeutic get away. The places I visited were often very noisy (even small villages!), dusty, very hot and super chaotic. Taking care of a friend who had to go to hospital in July was very tough and made me feel sad about the conditions people have to live in.
Sick day, Dharamkhot
Upon my return home it was time for some serious inner work; I did another Ayahuasca retreat and went through some pretty intense feelings. I helped facilitate an amazing retreat in France, completely enjoyed it and completely exhausted myself.
When summer was over, adaption to Dutch society was pretty hard. Suddenly the focus was on productivity and earning money. I had to deal with some feelings of unworthiness for choosing to live a different life and making an effort to find my way in living my purpose, which is an ongoing struggle.
I had a blast and incredible boost of Life force energy visiting the amazing Ecodharma centre for a course on Nature connection in the fall. The mountains, the colours, the stars, the sun, the people, the theory. This is what I want to do with my life! The outdoor life, nature connection, living healthy and joyous…. Yes please.
My love life was a bit of a thing this year. Isn’t it always? I made a huge shift, taking much more initiative approaching and asking people ‘out’. Even though being vulnerable still scares me to death, I managed to actually express my attraction for some people. Huge victory! And for others I didn’t. Too bad! Overall, I’m learning to take the lead more and more and by doing so, I am unlearning a lot of patriarchal conditioning. But I’m definitely not even close to where I would like to be. The path of liberating my self expression and learning how to communicate my boundaries, needs and desires will definitely continue throughout the coming years.
The last few months of the year I had “CAREER” going strong in my astrological year charts. Yes! So exciting. I had to get over some insecurities trying to stop me from putting myself out there. I started to organize my own events and lead meditation groups. I will start the next year doing a month long “business” training and am freaking excited to keep building my work in the world and overcome tendencies to keep small and do shitty work instead.
OK, there is no such thing as best nature. All nature is good. But there’s some pieces of land on this planet that are so unique, it does leave an impression for a lifetime. I spent five weeks in Ladakh, one of the northern most province of India. Sunshine, perfect temperature, high altitude (5000+m), strong culture of ecology and community. It’s beyond everything else.
Snow capped mountains, but not like anything you’ve ever seen. A former self-sufficient culture, having always been isolated throughout most part of the year due to heavy snows. Everyone has a vegetable garden, solar panels, gardening tools. Because people are mostly dependent on their surroundings, they are much more connected to the land.
Landscape and culture wise, this was a seriously incredible experience for me.
I’m feeling very moved and happy with the birth of the #MeToo movement. I didn’t share a word about this publicly, as I didn’t feel like it. But it’s something that affects me almost daily, especially street harassment, and really makes me feel unsafe and angry. I do feel reassured something is actually moving, and things might even get better some day.
Well done, everyone. Lots of love to you!
This years’ Miss Peru became a stage for political action. It made me feel so inspired, hopeful, and emotional. When a scene that is normally only engaged with women’s bodies and competition, turns into political action based on female solidarity – you know something big is shifting. Goddess rising! Thank you, women.
Most inspiring people
- Mooji (Spiritual teacher, satsang in Rishikesh)
- Vandana Shiva (Eco-feminist activist, 3 day course in Navdanya)
- Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo (Buddhist nun, nunnery in the Himalayas)
- Grandmother Ayahuasca (The Goddess herself, everywhere)
Elfin, over liefde, verlies en de kracht in jezelf – Shanti Schiks
This year the incredibly moving book of my housemates’ family member came out. The book is about her baby son, who she lost due to a horrendous act by her ex-partner. Shanti encourages people to feel through their emotions, be in the present moment, and love and respect oneself. The book moved me a lot. Firstly, because this warrior woman is alive and kicking and actually managed to write and publish a great book. Secondly, it made me conscious of my own patterns, not standing up for myself and saying NO – even when I thought I would never let myself be dominated again. I definitely learned from it, and I think many people will.
The Seamstress – Frances de Pontes Peebles
This book is awesome. A hotel owner in Manali, India, gave it to me. I was crying during one of the first chapters already, and finished it really fast. Women’s rights, revolution, peasants versus landowners, choices, troubled family… Love it. Really well written.
Cave in the Snow – Vicki Mackenzie
This book really excited me. It’s the story of Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo who lived in a cave in the Himalayas for years, practicing meditation. She actually promised to only reincarnate as a woman, so as to attain enlightenment in the female form. Bless this rebellious woman! If Tenzin Palmo can do years of meditation in a cold cave, I can do 30 minutes of meditation in my warm house every morning. Very inspiring read, especially if you’re a practitioner and could use a little discipline.
Dear White people
I wish I could just un-watch “Dear White people”, zip my memory, and be able to watch it again. I loved it! Social justice, anti-racism, decolonial education in a fun series… YES!
I need to get married to Brit Marling in a next life. This series is beyond. Cosmic questions, near death experiences, spiritual challenges… Wow. Marling actually wrote the series herself, refuses roles that put women down or stereotype them and does an awesome job acting. The final scene broke me. Tears! GO ANGELS!
Spoiler alert, don’t watch this if you haven’t started yet.
Honestly, I just love watching any women leaving a mediocre man for a phenomenal woman. And the Swedish is just, perfect. This is not 2017, but I watched it this year so for me it is 2017 🙂
Revolution 101! This is basically a children’s story on how the hyper masculine ego steals the heart of Mother Earth, she turns into a lava monster, everything is ruined, nothing grows anymore, he gives her the heart back and she turns back into the fertile, lovely, amazing Goddess she is. The story of our times! Indigenous myths and folklore, the elements such as the ocean playing an active role, tribe culture… Perfection!
My health, my courage, my family. The Earth. Learning. Europe! My friends, family, housemates and people I meet taking care of me and making me feel safe. Peace.
What I would love to see happening for me over the coming year is;
- Wildness, lots of outdoor time, learning more about nature connection
- Lovely holidays exploring beautiful nature and cities, camping trips, road trips
- My health getting back to normal, feeling more energetic, being able to feel boundaries and not engage in overproductivity, staying healthy
- Beautiful loving connections with other people, a great love life!
- Moving towards successful self employment, working for myself and with others in loving and supportive ways, doing stuff true to our hearts
- Working or volunteering in my neighboorhood and being engaged, helping and receiving
- Moving towards more diversity in my friendships and work, actualizing a life of the future with all ethnicities represented in equal relationships
- Developing my cooking skills and eating seriously delicious and diverse food nearly all the time, earning enough money to be able to buy most things organic
- Getting a lot of physical movement in ways that I love, muscle strengthening
- Lots of inspiring and thoughtful cultural activities, theatre, music, musea
- Learning more skills; handwork such as sewing, nitting and repairing, as well as working with the land, getting better at gardening/farming
- Having all my spaces organized, clean and nourishing to be in
- Living a mostly stress free life, being present and doing lots of conscious breathing and meditation, being able to deal with tough emotions
- Becoming more authentic and better at communication, expressing my needs
- Fully loving me!
On to the next…….
Thanks to all sweet new friends I met when traveling, and everyone else who was there for me this year! Now to meditate on my word for the coming year.
What will be yours?
Do you want to start off the year in a great way?