Killarney 

Maybe it’s because I got soaking wet yesterday while whale spotting, but I suddenly had to think back of my time in Killarney National Park.

This is how I spent many summer hols between my 17th and 27th, volunteering in environmental workcamps and lateron guiding same groups of volunteers from all over the world in the project! Better than a real holiday, so many friends and connections!

Every morning we would take a bus from the National Park Hostel, then a boat trip over the Upper Lake near Eagles Nest and then a long walk through rough terrain to get to the spot where we were working high up in the mountains. That’s where we would cut out invasive rhododendrons to protect the oak woods! No matter how bad the weather. After that lots of music sessions in the evenings! It’s where I got to learn many folk songs. So many good memories!

I was still studying law in Holland at the time, but it was definitely that experience that was part of the decision to leave my lawyer job at the age of 24 and go to Ireland for an indefinite period of time with my guitar!

photo: Jan Kuiper

Whales….and the big things in life!

Since a few weeks the shallow Dutch coastal waters near The Hague have a new visitor: a large humpback whale. A new Facebook group was started with many reported sightings, but I hadn’t been lucky enough to see him, even though I Iive right on the beach.

Suddenly everybody walking the beach or the harbour heads would share one common goal: to catch a glimp of this big mammal. It created a whole new social atmosphere between the usually distant beach walkers: everybody chatting to each other, helping each other, exchanging numbers, binoculars and photo’s and a general feeling of shared excitement.

FINALLY I was in luck yesterday and I suddenly caught the whale making a big jump right in front of the place where I was standing. Impressive!

Seeing this big whale also made me aware of something. Living in a big city I noticed people are usually busy looking after their individual career and family goals. The government is responsible for the common goals so why bother thinking about them.

When I lived in a house in the Irish countryside a 10 minutes drive away from a village of 600 inhabitants (quite in the middle of nowhere) I noticed people would look after the challenges of their community very well. When there were problems with electricity people would share gas tanks for heating. People would point each other mountain wells for drinking water when the private water scheme quality wasn’t sufficient.

I think this social awareness is absolutely necessary to face any of the current climate problems and take up responsibility for these, instead of waiting for the government to come with solutions. Plus it creates a nicer social atmosphere over all!

Maybe that’s why it was so special to meet our whale friend: as a gentle reminder that there are even bigger things than us. I hope you will get to see him too!

 

 

The law of attraction

Let’s get a bit more spiritual! I’m sure many of you will have heard about The Law of Attraction, which means really wanting something with all of your heart – without doubts or fears – leads to the result of it becoming true. This largely has to do with positive thinking, really aiming for a result and fully trusting the process. Trust is the opposite of fear, and a positive mindset and a decent amount of determination always open doors. No mysteries so far, or are there?

A while ago I was chatting to one of my friends, about the risks we took realizing some of our greatest dreams. When I quit my well paid job as a lawyer to focus on music, I didn’t have a clue of how I was going to work this out financially. I just gave up my longterm work contract, not knowing exactly how I was going to pay the rent of my city center apartment in The Hague. The first ‘miracle’ that happened was that my landlord rang the doorbell that same week to offer me a remainder of 6 months free stay, as he had other plans with the building. ‘Yes please, where can I sign?’

In the years afterwards I have gathered many more experiences like this one, which you might call ‘luck’, ‘accidence’ or ‘destiny’. The name doesn’t really matter. It’s about the feeling one gets in the meantime. It truly feels differently, living from a perspective of love, faith and inspiration, when usually all these good things start to happen, whereas living from a place of fear usually leads to a long road of bad experiences. Been there, done that, tried and tested haha!

It’s nice to know that there is always this choice though, even when it can be pretty tough to make the change when you’re on the wrong road. For example like years ago when my relationship in Ireland ended, I was devastated plus I didn’t have a home or income. One day I decided to go playing music on the streets, mainly to cheer myself up. After only one hour of busking I earned over 100 euros, I had met one of the Westlife singers who gave me money, and I got invited to play at a book release event, where I met a TV producer who asked if he could use my music for a TV production! Opportunities!

Or when I arrived to Ireland first and I just wrote a simple email to an info@….. festival address saying ‘hi, I am a Dutch musician and I live here now’, leaidng to a whole range of events getting a great booker, some festival gigs, many stays in a 4 star hotel with spa, great friends in the music scene and many local and international music collaborations!

Anyway, I am curious to hear of your own experiences! Do you believe in this Law of Attraction? How do you take responsibility for realizing your dreams? Have you also had the experience of the universe working with you to get you to places you had never imagined?

Slow living

Cycling to work everyday  in my work suit in busy The Hague traffic at 8 am, meeting the same civil servants at the same traffic lights every morning, very much like the Groundhog Day movie, I thought I wanted a change.  Well it wasn’t only a thought, it was also my body screaming for a break. Stress can really get into one’s system, especially if you experience sensory impulses intensely. I think no money is ever worth endangering one’s health.

Anyway, so here I was in the middle of nowhere in the North West of Ireland, with only a wooden stove to heat the house, no tap drinking water, electricity that often went when there were power cuts. And a lot of silence…. Just a house, nature, birds and wild deer in the garden. The quietness was so omnipresent that it felt I was in a different world, and that the real world with the traffic jams didn’t even really exist and certainly couldn’t be important if it did! What wás important here was to collect firewood and water from a well higherup in the mountains. There was a bus once a week to a nearby town in 20 minutes distance. And I actually met one of my best friends on it.

I started focussing on baking breads every morning, pizza’s, cakes, doing the household, volunteering in an animal sanctuary, making music with the locals, meeting some very talented people in the area. All of this felt so grounding and healing. There was plenty of time in a day, no rush to do anything, no appointments in my agenda. Not even internet in the house, so I had to walk down the road to receive messages.

And I loved it…

Back in Holland I still love spending time in the house or nature just by myself to load up on energy. Are you one of these sensitive people too? How do you step out of the 21st century rat race now and then?

 

Minimalism 

The past week my house has been renovated. A big operation for which I needed to pack up all my stuff. It really reminded me of moving houses, something which I have done 16 times in my life already. I think you would all agree moving houses always feels like a big hassle that causes a lot of stress. So it does for me. As a creative my head is so full of ideas already that I very much dislike things around me also being out of place.

What’s the stress about though? Mainly about our belongings. I have been hiding this week at my parents’ house in the middle of the woods. I only brought my guitar and a small rucksack and quickly I started to relax, and just letting go off the renovation situation in my house in The Hague.

Back in 2007 when I left to Ireland after quitting my lawyer job, I moved all my belongings to a storage space. I only lived out of three suitcases for those three years in Ireland, in several furnished houses. When I came back to The Netherlands I decided to throw out as much as I could from the storage since I hadn’t missed these things anyway.

Since then I have had a natural dislike to buying things, especially big things like a piano or a surfboard! If you have ever travelled you know big things mean more weight to carry along in your backpack…or in your life….

I never chose to live a minimalistic lifestyle but it just somehow happened naturally this way. Living from a lower budget I started making more conscious decisions on buying things and not just throwing out things that are still very well usable. My current stage outfit for the castle tour (pictured below) is a dress I bought at the age of 17 for the highschool prom!!

I mean it when I say I really don’t miss anything. I don’t think I dress that badly either and people often compliment me with the cozy interior of my house. Wouldn’t living from a lower budget be good for all of us? I think it’s much more in line with our real ‘earthly budget’ anyway! Do you think of your footprint and sustainability when buying things?

Combining work, music and a million dreams…

What do you want to become when you grow up? This question had been haunting me for many years. The ‘problem’ started with the situation pictured below. This seems very luxurious but it’s not as simple as that. I went to school at 5 years old being able to read, and graduated at 17, not having a clue what I wanted to do.

     

Was I born a musician? Ha! See the grades above! I do love learning, all subjects really, from maths and science to languages and music. School and studying (European Law & Language Studies, graduating in Dutch Law) allowed me plenty of time for hobby’s and other interests.

But then…work life started. This came as surprisingly huge challenge for me. Not being fully in charge of my own work load caused me stress and I was missing time for my other passions. After working as a lawyer in one of the bigger Dutch law firms for a while, I just felt like I wanted to press a big stop button, to earn back that much needed time to be creative! So that’s when quit my job and left to Ireland with just my guitar and backpack, where I started making money from playing gigs. It’s amazing how magic stuff always happens when you tap into your own flow.

Some trial and error later I know how I like to fill my days: either combining small parttime jobs with music or working independently fulltime. I’ve worked in a wide range of areas over the years: from lawyer, university lecturer, PA, PR officer to bar manager and more…You name it, I’ve done it!

The ongoing drive to create has always been the essence for me. Coming up with a crazy idea for a concert, tour, a story or a CD production and then realizing it is so rewarding! It’s like taking people on a tour to a different world. You know the little boy in The Greatest Showman? That’s how I think and love to work…realizing my million dreams!

In nowadays society specialism is rewarded. Working parttime can be seen as laziness. Higher skilled jobs for 2/3 days are pretty rare to find. A pity for creatives like me who have a wide variety of interests. What are your thoughts on this? What drives you in life? How do you combine work with your passion? And what would be the soundtrack to your career?

 

Welcome to my blog!

Even though some work is still in progress, I will try this first post to find out how this works! Apparently due to my minimal website skills all the earlier news posts ended up in  blog heaven where nobody can really read them….

My name is HannekeLaura. I am a Dutch songwriter, lawyer, writer, nature lover,  Ireland lover, and country girl who ended up in a big city. I will use this blog space to share some  experiences and personal stories starting with the big career change I made years ago working as a lawyer in a big law firm to a free lifestyle as a singer/songwriter. I will share some of the knowledge, struggles, highlights and adventures that I encountered en route. To get a first impression of who I am, please follow me on Instagram. Have a look around on my site, and please join me on this trip! <3