When I tell people I graduated as a lawyer and became a professional musician people always look at me as if something doesn’t add up. Usually when strangers judge me they don’t believe that I’m also a lawyer. Apparently I look more like a musician (don’t know if that’s good or bad haha)….
People like to put others in boxes. But I have always had many interests. I found it fairly hard to pick a subject to study after school. I did exam in five languages and was good at maths and science. I still love history, reading about holistic healing and plant medicine, about nature and animals, so many interests! How does one combine these things? In an ideal society I would probably do all of that in one day, every day. But we usually don’t. Specialism in work is rewarded.
Even as a musician I found playing guitar, bass and piano confusing so I ended up mainly playing guitar, the only instrument of the three that I never had any lessons in funnily. Oh and then I haven’t mentioned choosing between all these genres that I love, from Irish to Spanish, folk, pop, country….from covers to writing songs…
I have to force myself to focus on a daily base to not get distracted. And to not go insane. Still, to combine skills is very valuable if possible.
The past month I successfully helped out a friend with a legal case and I found it very interesting to think legally, logically, strategically, and to attend a court case again. It’s just a whole different side of the brain being used, so different from making music.
I am curious to hear about your own skills and interests? Do you feel you are mainly using one certain side of the brain? Do you have hidden talents that noone knows about, very different from your daily activities? That you would like to develop? Tell me!
‘Sing to me of the man, Muse…..’ The beginning of the famous opening lines of Homer’s Odyssey, a long poem in which he describes the twists and turns of Odysseus’ adventurous journey.
It’s directed straight to his Muse, one of the Greek Goddesses of inspiration, support and song. I think we all have Muses for our creative work. I do at least. Shortly before I write a song, I get a certain feeling as if I have to lay an egg and then I just grab a guitar and it usually flows straight through me and I only have to listen to the recording to get it right. It’s magic, like I don’t really do it myself! Sometimes I even sing words I don’t fully understand untill I hear them. Usually the lyrics still need some fine tuning but the idea is there right away.
Looking at it that way the Muse is a very abstract idea, like a Holy Ghost of inspiration. But sometimes our Muses can be very concrete people, mainly when we are in love. I have had a few important male soulmate muses over the years. And there is still a vacancy for ‘Muse (M)’ here haha. It doesn’t involve much, it’s a long distance job, only to be very inspiring, preferably a male musician and to be the subject of many writings haha! 😉
By the way, my old Muse was suddenly very kind to me this week and I’m delighted with the result which is probably gonna be a new single…
Do you have Muses for your own creations? I’d like to know all about yours!
While I studied law I worked as an environmental volunteer in a National Park in Ireland over the summers. I loved it so much to be outdoors all day to protect the oak woods from invasive species that I realised I wanted to work with nature in daily life. I should maybe have become a veterinarian as I initially planned! Anyway, when I came back home I signed up for a course on Environmental Law. And that became a very depressing period to me: The whole environmental law system evolves around the idea of ‘pollution rights’. Companies have a right to cause a certain amount of emissions and pollution. If they don’t use their full share they can sell it to a company that needs a little bit more: tradable emission rights, the complete moral downfall of capitalism.
Strangely I found out lately that individuals think exactly the same. When talking about climate change issues people say for example that ‘because they don’t eat meat they can fly to Asia for their holidays now’. As if we also have a certain right to pollute and that we can choose how to divide that. Of course being alive causes pollution. But we can still try to keep it as low as possible. That would ask a major lifestyle change for many. I find it strange that we are not able to do that ourselves without government intervention. When I see how people are loading up their supermarket trolley’s for December feasts I lose my hope for change already….
This climate problem needs a cultural and psychological revolution. Sometimes I can’t understand why it’s so hard for people to change their own lifestyles on their own initiatives, to buy less, fly less, holiday less, change their diet. Even many people who believe the climate facts still don’t change their behaviour. We must be a very egocentric species. I hope we all can talk about it over a sober Christmas dinner to make the people around us more aware that there is no such thing as a ‘ right to pollute’ . Happy Christmas!
The season of Halloween is upon us: scary movies, trick ‘n treat, pumpkin carving. And besides that…..the more serious stuff like rituals, awakenings and magic. Traditionally The Celts celebrated the start of a New Year at Samhain. “The veil” or the energetic and psychic barrier between dimensions was said to be thinner around this time. It allowed the living to have increased intuition and psychic abilities. A time to contact the ones we loved who passed away to the other side, and to reflect on the past year. Rituals still to be found in Christian All Hallows and All Saints feast days.
I was baptised as a Catholic but raised without a particular belief. When I studied in the Southerly city of Maastricht I became more aware of the influence of religion and rituals in many people’s lives. I have always really valued them. The magical atmosphere of beautiful dark old church buildings where people prayed since early medieval times. Also the value of contacting ‘that other world’ in whatever form. In Dutch society religion or spirituality doesn’t have a prominent place. I certainly appreciate it as a counter actor against our overly rational society. There is so much we don’t know! When I was bashing rhododendrons as an environmental summer volunteer in Killarney National Park when I was 17, people told me stories and legends about magic trees, little people, elves, the banshee, a deep connection with nature and magical places. I found it fascinating!
Do you allow space for otherworldly things in your life? Any exciting stories? Do you have cool rituals to open yourself up? I like burning sage and palo santo, some meditation, reading tarot cards, some astrology, be aware of the influence of the moon cycle. And the odd foretelling dream now and then 😉
Happy Halloween Season. Enjoy the magic. And may the Force be with you!
“Do you remember a moment when you were very focussed and driven working towards your goals?”. When a friend asked me recently I noticed in my case most of these situations had love as a keyword: love for another person or love for an idea I was mad about.
Thankfully last Friday I felt this loving spark again in all its intensity when I took part in the climate protest in The Hague. It was amazing to be there with tens of thousands of people uniting for a higher goal. With a group of 100 professional musicians and singers we played and sang protest songs from a stage before this immense crowd. There was a very special energy out there, all these people carrying protest banners they had made at home, and a large sense of community, almost like stepping out of our individualistic society for a day!
Well we weren’t there for fun. We were there because the government will need to take drastic measures to prevent further climate crisis and doom day scenario’s, and we will all need to change our lifestyles in a big way. But still we had a lot of fun doing so. And suddenly I became aware of something that had been missing in my life. A feeling of idealism, that had been much stronger in the past but that I neglected a bit doing my daily tasks, and also to be really part of a group of people of a similar “lifestyle conviction”.
We have all this unlimited freedom and money now to buy whatever we want, to go on holidays whereever we want to, to date whoeever we want, to take up any job offer we like, but who is really aware of ethics and morality these days when tackling these questions? Of course there is not just one correct answer but ain’t the main problem that we stopped thinking about moral questions at all? We seem happy enough when we can organise our little lives and pay the bills and mainly have enough fun doing so. But we don’t seem to be able to make decisions on a higher level than our own houses and family’s. Maybe return of some morality and ethics might be good for us planet earth inhabitants, and society as a whole?
Also for all these individuals suffering of anxiety or burnout complaints (of whom there are more than ever before): It might be giving a lot of headspace to think about what’s good for the world instead of complicated individualistic thinking. It helps me anyway. Become an idealist! May ethics be your guideline! I promise you a feeling of joy, drive and strong sense of identity doing so 😉 Oh, and let’s please hope it is contagious. Love is the keyword. I fell in love already!
Talking about the disastrous effects of our Western lifestyle, our eating, shopping and holiday habits on the planet is never fun. People don’t like to be made felt bad about their choices. I’ve been a vegetarian since I was a student but for same reason I’m certainly not one of those veggies who tells you off about the ‘dead animal on your plate’ in the middle of a restaurant. But by now we’ve reached a point with climate and environmental issues that I’m wondering if maybe we should. Is it really OK when friends announce their fifth mini hols a year by plane? And is it OK to just reply asking if they had a good time and what the weather was like?
I remember earning a lot of money each month as a lawyer and I sometimes I hadn’t got a clue how to spend it. I think many fulltime workers who go clothes shopping on a Saturday often don’t. It seems more of a cultural habit. Sometimes I randomly bought shoes, and then I just threw them in some closet if I didn’t want to wear them, and went to buy a new pair I didn’t really need. It gave me a very empty feeling.
Sometime after quitting this job I left to Ireland with my guitar and ended up on a farm in the wild West. My main concerns were to light the fire in the mornings, to collect drinking water from a well in the mountains (rural area’s often still don’t have access to public water schemes), to do repairs after power cuts and some more very basic life tasks, like baking fresh bread in the morning. Strangely this largely improved my mood and feeling of happiness about life in general. It felt like for the first time in my life – in my twenties – I lived and worked for what really matters, staying alive, keeping warm and being as self sufficient as possible doing so and spend my little savings on local activities that felt like “really earned”.
Of course I wouldn’t want to project my own experience on society in general. But could I assume that our general Western lifestyle has drifted so far off from a basic self sufficient experience, that knowing ‘what really counts in life’ is just as hard a notion to grasp as knowing ‘what we are doing wrong’ ? Is that why it’s so hard to admit that maybe that 5th mini break away or buying that car to bring the kids to school wasn’t really necessary? Because we really don’t feel anymore what is truly valuable? Because our lives are built around an existence in which we study hard to earn digital abstract credits to buy stuff from, striving for more and more, overlooking if we do really add the same amount of value in return with our work? What is an experience really “earned”? It would be good to leave the notion of money out of this equation now when we judge our own behaviour and what we really deserve….
See you on Friday for the Climate Strike in The Hague!
I am one of them crazy people who actually loves rain. OK, I had fun going for a quick sea swim on this warm Sunday, but I am glad the season of tourists, busy streets, crowded beaches, a sometimes roasting apartment, closed windows to keep the neighbours’ BBQ smoke out, is coming to an end! Oh and those annoying people everywhere, loud summer people 😉 !! Instead I thrive on the smell of wet forests, misty mornings, hiding inside from a roaring storm with a warm blanket and all the inspiration that autumn gives. Everything just turns a bit more quiet, and I like things quiet!
Also the social expectations of summer are lessening with the start of the new season. I really LOVE my “me time” and in autumn and winter I somehow feel it’s more OK to just hide inside the house alone without having to give excuses to people. To process everything, to turn inwards, to find inspiration and gather energy for new stuff coming up. To meditate, read books, play music. I must secretly be an introvert….
How do you feel about autumn starting tomorrow? Happy Fall Equinox to all! And don’t forget to join us for the Climate March in The Hague on Friday, to make sure we will have even more cool days coming up in the future!
Yesterday I joined forces with flamenco singer Erminia Fernández Córdoba and some more musical folks during a climate demonstration in The Hague. We played a protest song she wrote to call for action. It’s great to see so many people raising awareness for the climate crisis now! We are preparing more musical activities for the upcoming Global Climate Protest 27 September….
I danced flamenco as a teenager and it was great to feel the spirit and passion behind it again in this gathering filled with Spanish music and dance. In some ways Spanish folk is similar to the Irish folk culture that I’ve become so familiar with: making music with simple acoustic instruments, clapping and stamping, and a large communal factor and a feeling of passion and rebellion involved. I loved it! Very powerful stuff!
So what we are doing now with the club of people, apart from writing suitable songs ourselves, is gathering great protest songs. I have a list already that I play during my own performances, varying from Melanie Safka’s “I don’t eat animals”, Neil Young’s “After the Goldrush”, The Kelly Family, “When the last tree has been taken”, Joan Baez’ “We will overcome”….and many more. Do you have any suggestions of good protest songs, especially about nature or climate? Please let me know! And see you 27 September ‘ on the barricades’!
Since people keep asking me questions about my dresses, why not write a happy blog post about them! Cause no matter how minimalistic I live, I have to admit I love to pick dresses for our performances, oh and for daily life, as I wear them as easily for rainy cycles or hiking up a muddy mountain. I have always thought dresses are more comfortable to move around in since I was a kid. Where do I find them? I don’t know! I suppose I just bump into them by accident, as I don’t like shopping at all! Especially not when you really have to find something…
When I was a little kid we were holidaying in Spain with the family and it was the first time I saw flamenco dancers. That must have been the first time I really wanted a polkadot dress..besides learning to dance flamenco of course. So I did both. And I still have this polkadot dress addiction! In many colours of the rainbow!
Do you have specific clothes or colours to cheer yourself up or to give yourself a confidence boost when you have something important coming up? I would like to know! Enjoy the rest of the summer in your happiest outfits :)!
There was a time when I was very idealistic. From the age of 17 I worked many summers in a national park as a volunteer to do my share for tree conservation. I graduated on a legal topic hoping to contribute to the preservation of common goods: property of our common heritage. Things that don’t belong to just one person like our bikes or cars, but areas like woods, seas and lakes that belong to us all, that should be kept in a good state….
Western society sadly isn’t based around the preservation of “common heritage”. Most of our lives we spend focussed on our individual property: saving money to buy a car, a house, the nicest of clothes, saving for expensive holidays to far away destinations. We work all of our lives because we committed to pay off a mortgage to finally become the full owner of a tiny plot of land, or an appartment in a big block of houses with other people doing the same. But with which higher goal? Or should I even say: with which entitlement? I have always found it very interesting that humans are not well able to think for the sake of all people.
In the meantime the effects of climate change are really making themselves known now. Wildfires on the North Pole, unbearable heatwaves in the most of Europe, smog alarms: it’s only a small part of what’s to come in the next decades. Why are we still obsessed with expanding our own individual properties, neglecting the effects our lifestyles have on the planet as a whole? Knowing that if we continue like this our own little situations will be affected?
I could imagine a system where people would be rewarded for their footprint, like getting a basic financial incentive when keeping their footprint under a certain amount of points, taking into account how many kids one has, not having a car, eating a plant based diet etcetera. Many people are waiting for the government or companies to come with solutions. What we can do as individuals now is raising awareness about lifestyle changes and voicing out our opinion, like when friends announce their 5th flight to a destination far away or buy a second car. Even though this might not be nice. And even though it might seem futile: it is all in the little things!
Apart from that in my opinion the State’s public property of common goods should be getting a distinct position as ‘common property not meant for exploitation’, like it used to be in the past and still is the case in some countries. It seems the only way….Do you have any other good ideas to combat climate change?
In the meantime I’m working on songs on the subject. All I can do as a musician….