Category Archives: lifestyle

Into the wild

I can be quite a hermit at times. I have always been able to easily entertain myself for days without interacting with other people. Last week I stayed in a house in the woods at the Veluwe and most of my social activities were with animals haha! A conscious decision! So nice to be fully in touch with nature. Waking up at 5am when the sun rises, with the sounds of the dawn chorus, long walks in the national park, cycles, horse riding, swimming, deer spotting. All of it just out in nature, no city visits etcetera. It reminded me of the feeling I had when living in Ireland and that I sometimes miss here. To really be away from the hustle and bustle of daily life. I find it very relaxing and it helps me grounding and focussing on my own goals again.

Even though I love the dunes and the beach it’s impossible in The Hague to go for walks without seeing any other people. Have you ever had that experience of being alone in nature for a longer period of time? What feeling or which insights did it give you? I hope you’re enjoying the spring weather this Pentecost and your inner fires will be resparked aswell!

 

 

What’s your career story? 

At the age of 17 I moved to Maastricht to study European Law & Language Studies. Specialising in Dutch Administrative Law I hoped to realise my idealistic ideas in environmental law. In my Master thesis I researched legal ways to differentiate a ‘public property’ of common goods from private property. Shortly after I was offered a student-assistentship teaching all first year Bachelor subjects in Maastricht University.

At 22 I was sworn as an Attorney at one of the bigger law firms in The Netherlands. I enjoyed the intensive work experience, but something was missing: time to breathe after all these years of studying, and time for my big passion: music!I decided to give up my job and home to leave to Ireland with only a backpack and a guitar.

I have worked as a singer/composer, recording artist, guitar/vocal coach, tour organiser and promotor of events since. I am lucky to have shared the stage with national and international artists like Tim Akkerman, Perry Blake and The Dubliners. I have supported my music with several PA/PR/teaching positions in international environments. It’s been an exciting ride over the years, back to the essentials of it all having lived on a farm in the ‘middle of nowhere’, and overcoming health struggles en route. A crazy adventure!

Besides giving concerts I love inspiring people in their own careers, having a diverse experience in two different worlds. I offer coaching sessions and vocal workshops to spark your inner voice.

So tell me, what’s your story?

www.hannekelaura.com

Idols and inspirations

Chatting with some friends in a café yesterday brought us to the topic of bands and musicians we adored in our teens…And it turned out we still got the butterfly feeling when speaking about some of them ha! It got me thinking about fandom and what it means to me as a musician. I was a big fan of some bands in my teens and I have been so lucky to finally meet some of them backstage at festivals in real life: From Paddy Kelly (Kelly Family) to Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters) and everything in between: Josh Ritter, Rufus Wainwright, Beth Hart and many many more…

As a kid I spent all my pocket money collecting CD’s and VHS videos, to go to concerts and festivals all over the country, spent hours and hours in queues before concert halls and at backstage entrances of stadiums. It brought me to many many places and it was always a good reason for travelling in The Netherlands and abroad. My parents allowed me to travel to a concert at the other side of the country by train on my own at the age of 15!! An exciting first solo journey! I met so many friends through this hobby.

Also it served as a purpose for travelling. I don’t like random travels so much. I prefer to visit places with a special meaning: historically, genealogically, movie set scenes (Star Wars!) or places with a link to music. It gives a whole new dimension to visiting a place. Looking up to idols always inspired me in the music I make myself. I had never imagined I would actually end up meeting some of these people in real life or even sharing the stage or the festival bill with some of them!

Do you guys have certain bands, movies or inspirations that you would travel the world for or that inspire you in your career or otherwise? What does it mean to you? And do you still get as excited about them these days?

 

Fearless

What would you do if you woke up tomorrow morning without any fears? Would you leave your job to go travelling? Would you phone the love of your life to declare him or her your feelings? Go for that super job that you always wanted? Buy the dream house? Start your own business? Take out that bucket list of experiences? Try this new hobby or sport? Ditch those addictions to become the best version of yourself? And why are you not doing it yet?

Quite possibly you tell yourself you don’t really desire any of these things so badly anyway and that you’re happy staying in your own comfortzone.  Fear and ‘not really wanting to’ tend to get mixed up in the mind. Well in my mind at least!

It’s interesting that in some situations we know very well what we want and we don’t hesitate. Like when I had surgery almost two years ago and I wasn’t sure of my health situation at all I became VERY focussed to use my time and money to record two CD’s. So the question is: would you still have the same hesitations to go for your dream if someone put a gun against your head or offered you a million euro’s if you would go for it?

It’s February already and 2019 is flying by. So it’s a good moment to check if you’re still heading where you want to go and where your own New Year’s resolutions are going. The moment is now! I’m excited to hear what little things you’re planning to do today to work towards your goals. Have a good Sunday!

 

Me time

Wouldn’t it be interesting to see the world from someone else’s perspective for just one day! Have you ever done the Meyer-Briggs personality test?  I’m one of the visionary  type of people (ENFP), which means that my doing is driven by ideas and inner values.  I really need to feel the love for a project to be able to get anything done. But once I do…. Inspiration can fullfill me that much that it makes me feel in love!  And the other way around aswell….*sighs*….

In my experience people differ the most in the amount of “me time” they need. Some people need thrills all the time, and some people love spending time on their own.

Even though I love my thrills as a performer/entertainer, I’m definitely of the last category. I am a real country girl. I was born and raised in a smaller village and I didn’t move to The Hague till I was 11. One of the things I love about the countryside is just the amount of space and quietness it gives to think. My head is always so full of ideas and impulses that I need time to sort them. When I was a kid my parents even came up with an abbrevation for the Dutch words ‘time to herself’.

Probably one of the reasons I left my lawyer job at the time to escape The Hague to move to a farm in the wild west of Ireland! Wouldn’t that be boring? Not with a head like mine haha!

So which type are you? Are you self entertaining or do you prefer being entertained? Do you get restless of the idea of doing nothing for a weekend or would you just love it? Let me know!

 

 

Living on a budget

A friend of mine once told me I should start giving courses on ‘living on a budget’, because I always seem to be able to save money, even while on a lower budget. All people who work independently know that these tighter periods exist!! So, here we are! I’m sure many of you will have thought about the financial consequences of quitting a fulltime job to start your own business, to follow your passion, to go travelling or just to take a break from the rat race. Don’t think too much, just do it! As a lawyer who turned songwriter I have found out quite a bit about this, so let me share some tips and tricks…

So, I think the biggest challenge is to find a house that is affordable: in the form of alternative housing, house sharing or rent allowance. As soon as that is sorted, the remaining budget really depends on choices for other fixed costs. Apart from health insurance, do we really need insurances for all kinds of unlikely events? Is it possible to share Wifi with the neighbours? Do we need a TV? I love watching movies and series online! Can we get a cheap phone contract? Can we use public transport instead of owning a car, or maybe sharing one? Can we walk or cycle instead of driving? You will give yourself a free workout….plus it’s all better for the environment anyway!

You will see that you will then have quite a bit of money leftover after deduction of very limited fixed costs. I tend to spend it mostly on healthy food. I don’t go out much for drinks and food, as I find it’s usually better healthier quality when I cook myself. And I enjoy cooking. Of course I do have coffees now and then with friends, that is definitely a choice. I find it can be even more fun and relaxing to invite people at home, or bring a thermos flask and food while going for a walk or while taking a train. And again….it’s better for the environment saving all these plastic cups!

Another category is sports and hobbies: Pick a hobby that you only buy gear for once, and that is free afterwards, like surfing, skating, sea swimming, running, cycling. For myself: I love inline skating and I have a cheap contract at the gym.

Being sustainable when it comes to clothing is something I wrote about before. I loving buying affordable quality that will usually last for years! I love fashion and I have a big dress collection but I only add items like maybe twice a year because there is just plenty there anyway. Or try second hand stores. And again: better for the environment.

So do I sit at home all the time? Well I love spending time at home, as I’m a very homely person, but I travel aswell. Trick is to take advantage of offers, for public transport or otherwise. I don’t really want to promote it (not good for the environment at all, this one), but I bought flight tickets within Europe for as little as 20 return. I stayed at budget locations, holiday homes that I could rent of friends for little, and I made deals with 4 star hotels for free accomodation in return for gigs! To combine travels with paid gigs or other paid jobs is another good way to reduce costs ofcourse.

And I love spending time in our own little country. To go for hikes in the woods in the East of The Netherlands, to go to Maastricht for a day, and of course exploring all of nature The Hague has to offer. Saves a lot of hassle travelling. And should I say it again? Better for the enviroment!

Strangely I found that when I was working fulltime I felt a stronger urge to go spend all my money in the weekends, even on things I really didn’t need. I remember coming home with shoes I never wore and then just buying another pair. Such a waste! I still haven’t found out the psychology behind it, maybe it’s some form of happiness compensation? I don’t miss it anyway!

So what do you do to keep your budgetary costs low, to allow a lifestyle with more freedom? Have you even considered it at all? I’m excited to hear from you. For me this all has become so natural that it doesn’t feel restrictive at all. Quite the opposite in fact! I hope this whole story will make you a bit more aware next time you’re about to buy something you don’t really need! Enjoy the freedom you will get in return!

 

Health food

I’m sure many of you have set good intentions for the new year, especially when it comes to living more healthily, losing weight, doing more sports and so on. For me workouts, meditation, good sleeps, and keeping a diet have become part of my weekly routine and I’m actually starting to love it by now! After being diagnosed with endometriosis in 2017 I read ALL there was to read online about alternatives to get as fit as possible with this condition: alternatives to more surgery and hormonal treatments with unknown results and side effects.

Thankfully my consultant agreed that to keep a certain anti inflammatory diet was a great option for me! That the diet contained no cafein, no gluten, no milk, no sugar, no alcohol, no meat, no soy and no processed foods was a bit of a shock at first! So I only stick to parts of it, and I still love my tiny cup of morning coffee. Being a vegetarian is usually already seen as unsociable enough, and I don’t wanna lose all my friends and possible dates haha!

Anyway I found it very interesting to read more about it. So many things I wasn’t really aware of: like the effects certain foods have on our hormonal system, the effects of foods wrapped in plastics and what’s in our drinking water. Mind you, I don’t do my shopping at the ecological supermarket since it costs a fortune, but even on a budget healthy changes are definitely possible! One day I hope to have my own place where I have a veg garden and live an even purer and healthier lifestyle. It definitely has made me more conscious of the environment and how we live. And last but not least, it works! Not only for physical health but also mental wellbeing. Oh and I got rid of other complaints like asthma and eczema en route! Isn’t that great!

So, what do you do to keep healthy? Do you see relationships between certain foods and your own health issues? I’m excited to hear from you! Keep it up for 2019!

A happy history!

I hope you all had a good start of the new year! Luuk Lenders and I played a nice concert in an old church on the grounds of the beautiful Dutch Open Air Museum over the holidays. Largely situated in an old forest. I really love old places and history in general. It’s great to step into that time machine to visualize how things were in the past and how they can be in the future. For same reasons I am very interested in researching my family genealogy.

Last summer we even performed in an old castle in Belgium that I stumbled upon while researching the family tree. I found the idea of family links to this castle so intriguing that it was great that they invited us for a show. The Van den Eertwegh family originates from Maeseyck in the Pays de Liège that was a separate country untill the 18th century. The coat of arms- pictured below – looks pretty cool.

Maybe to me it feels even more interesting because I moved 16 times myself between places in Holland, Belgium and Ireland. In nowadays society where residence and work have become very flexible things, I think I value roots and old stories even more!

Do you know anything about your own roots? Do you believe they play a part in your identity? In all cases: let’s all write some good history in 2019 again!

 

 

May the Force be with you!

I have to admit I am a big Star Wars fan. I love the whole philosophy and view on society and spirituality behind it: the ideas of the light side and the dark side of the Force. With Christmas and the winter solstice coming up we all – religious or not – celebrate the return of the light in the darkness. Something you sometimes have to search for when you are having shitty weeks or the world seems to work against you. And I had a few pretty hectic weeks on all fronts myself!

Thankfully yesterday – while playing a lovely concert for a nice audience (picture below) – working together with a deeply appreciated colleague musician, I felt able to connect back to my inner Force again and I was wondering what it is exactly that does that. I think for me it’s love and inspiration and really feeling to the core of your being who you are and what you love doing. And connecting with people who have faith in you and inspire you on your own route.

I am so thankful to have travelled together on my own path with some musicians who I really admire for what they do. People who took risks to do what they love and who live very authentically. I cherish them with all my heart for that, as they have given me a lot of life force just by being who they are, and they still do!

I hope you will all have a lovely Christmas. Surround yourself with the right people. And may the Force be with you!

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!