Tag Archives: lifestyle

Back to basics

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!

 

Autumn is coming

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!

 

Sustainable summer travels

With temperatures soaring over 30 degrees the past weeks, while planning my summer hols I couldn’t help feeling guilty about even considering the idea of taking a plane somewhere.  And I think we all should! With this climate crisis showing its tangible effects, it get’s more and more attractive to stay at home, as it’s hot enough here already, and to choose environment friendly ways of transport like hiking, cycling, inline skating or taking a train or a ferry somewhere.

It’s not only a matter of budgetting for me, but also really the question if holidays are really “necessary” that way. Do they contribute that much to your life to justify all these extra emissions? I couldn’t justify just flying somewhere for a concert for a weekend for example. Of course sometimes it’s hard to avoid planes, but to cut the frequency down helps already. Some people tell me they fly somewhere every few weeks as it’s cheap enough. Well reconsider!

I signed up for the Wwoofing website as I always wanted to have an organic farm volunteering experience.  It would feel good and useful to combine a holiday experience with learning something about self sufficient living, work with animals, and giving something back to the earth. And I’m considering a camping trip or taking a ferry to England. Handy for bringing instruments aswell. And maybe that one flight a year to Ireland? Because it’s an island far away and it takes ages to get there and back again as a foot passenger? If that’s OK with you? Excited to hear your opinions! Happy conscious summer travels!

 

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!

 

 

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!

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 centre 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, that still fits perfectly at 35!!

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?

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