‘The price of anything
is the amount of time
you exchange for it’
Henry David Thoreau once spoke these wise words. If what he’s saying is true, and I believe it might be, then I feel I have spent my time quite wisely.
I was born in a foreign country & have spent the first part of my life moving & travelling from here to there. So, for much of this life, I’ve felt like an outsider; a nomad who belongs neither here nor there. It’s been hard, sometimes. Hard to fit in when looking different from everyone around me. And even harder to fit in when looking the same as everyone around me, but to feel completely different.
There have been times I wished that life could have been a little simpler; less extraordinary, I suppose. I thought maybe that would make everything a bit easier & it would make me feel less of an oddity. But these days, I realize how fortunate I have been, to be able to make all these beautiful, unique memories, starting from the day I was born, stretching across the years, right into the present day. I’ve been lucky to be surrounded by people who love me, know me & allow me to be me. And these people have created the most extraordinary memories together with me. They’ll forever carry my memories along with them, like sacred vessels filled with evidence of my existence.
Of course I have regrets, time wasted, or time I wish I had spent more wisely. Of course, I walked through numerous days of my life without looking around me as much as I could have, naïvely spending something as precious as time on something not equally important. But that’s life too & those times created memories as well. And some of those particular memories turned out to be among the best I’ve made so far.
I believe our best memories cannot be held in our hands, they cannot be placed in boxes or may not even be able to be written down on paper. These memories are created in the silence that exist between one word & the next, made in those fleeting moments between what we do & what we plan to do. They are light as air, often wordless & easily overlooked. But these memories consist of love. And once seen, once felt, they are never forgotten. They stay with us through the years, they create a home within our soul & they pick us up when we are down. We carry them with us wherever we go & they allow us to travel back & forth in time whenever we feel the need to do so.
It are those memories I cannot capture here; those all-important moments, which shaped me more than I’ll ever know. But I will remember them all the same.
Tribute to time gone by…
I don’t often say things like this about ideas I come up with myself, but I really love my November theme. It’s been such an incredibly gratifying experience to search through the souvenirs of my life so far. I’ve discovered & rediscovered so many lovely hidden treasures; much loved objects packed away in small boxes, stored on high shelves or lost between new pieces of life I’ve collected along the way. I’ve gazed at pictures, searching for the meaning within memories. What did that time mean to me, how did it change me, how did that particular moment in time contribute to the person I am today?
I highly recommend it; this documenting of your keepsakes. It will remind you of some of the most important times of your life; times which formed you in small & in big ways, times long gone or times just lived. Your memories might surprise you. And even though the best of times are often not documented or tangible, documenting what you did safe is bound to bring you closer to the memories which can only be seen within your mind’s eye.
There are many things I like. Many things I love. And then there are the things I like, love & simply couldn’t do without in life. ‘Things’ like my family, my cat, hiking, music, tea, photography & drawing. And while I’ve spend a substantial amount of time writing about most of the things above, I think I haven’t dedicated a single blogpost to my love for drawing. A love that takes me right back in time: back to the kid I once was. That little, daydreaming girl; with songs in her head & magic on her mind. Back to the comfort of her warm classroom in the middle of nowhere, in a country where the sun never seized to shine. Right back to the place where all her & my beginnings can be found.
Yes, I’ve been drawing my whole life. During primary school, I sometimes had a hard time concentrating on my lessons, especially the ones which I thought were boring. So, instead of learning, I’d be drawing & copying beautiful images into the margin of my notebooks. I can remember the feeling of inspiration surging through me, each and every time I stared at my textbook illustrations; the simple pencil drawings & the colourful painted images, all of them luring me away from the words & their educational value. Day by day, bit by bit, I grew up & my drawings grew with me. I started to read books on art, discovered beauty everywhere. I fell in love with Chagall’s lovers of Venice & dreamed of Monet’s little girl in a field full of poppies.
Then puberty hit & with it came insecurity. A nasty figure called self-doubt decided to become a permanent resident of my mind. And for a while, as I started to question everything I created, the joy I had always felt while drawing seemed to wither away. But, despite the insisting voice in my head, which said I wasn’t good enough, I never stopped drawing. I simply couldn’t. My hands always want to scribble, doodle & dream. I suppose the dreamy, little kid I used to be, was putting up a good fight, ignoring inner critics & their boring friends. She kept me going, reminding me that we wanted to be the sort of person that never gives up on oneself. And I knew she was right. So, I kept making postcards & paintings. I made murals; small, big & huge. For years I kept experimenting, searching franticly for my signature style. I stubbornly kept filling folders, drawers & eventually a cupboard with my artwork, in the hope that the self-doubt would eventually feel completely tongue-tied & would simply disappear. And all that while, I silently dreamed that one day someone would come along & would recognize the love that I pour into every single line on the paper. That someone would come & say; what you do is great!
Well….of course, no one ever came. No one said that what I did was great. The drawers stayed shut & my illustrations kept waiting for better days. And guess which uninvited guest came running back into my life…
But then, a few months ago, Astrid from the Cardcetera webshop saw my photographs & decided that they were so beautiful that she wanted to turn them into postcards. It might sound strange, but I think this changed everything for me. It changed something inside of me. It enabled the little kid within to win that ongoing battle with insecurity & to convince me it was about time I’d start to believe in my own creative abilities again.
And that’s why, these days, I completely rediscovered my love for drawing & I decided I was done doubting, waiting & hesitating. Instead, I went looking for a good printing company & decided to print a few of my colourful Christmas cards. This might sound like nothing to most people, but to me it means more than I can explain right here. It’s a victory I’m not able to put into words just yet.
So, to make a very long story short (which, as it turns out, isn’t my strong suit:), I have printed 4 lovely Christmas cards, which I hope to sell in some local shops & eventually also online. And since I am so proud & happy that I finally dared to print any of my own work, I decided it would be perfect to share that happiness by organizing my very first Giveaway ever! Cause, who doesn’t love a nice giveaway? I’ve never done anything like this, though, so I hope you will bear with me, while I’m trying to get it right the first time:)
So, the giveaway is a set of 4 Christmas cards with my own illustrations. The cards are printed in full colour on 300 gram paper. If you would love to receive these unique cards, this is what you have to do: simply leave a comment below & tell me why you should definitely receive this colourful set of cards.
I will choose a winner from the comments next week, on the 12th of November. Make sure to check my blog, to see whether you’re the lucky winner! See you then….
P.S As some of you might have seen in the menu above, I have added a special page for my illustrations to this blog. If you would like to see more of my work or have any questions, feel free to have a look around on the page or send me an email🙂
August Theme: Eye on Ireland
As I was growing up, I remember my father had this nice collection of National Geographic magazines, all neatly arranged on the shelves of his office. We had restricted access to them. Browsing was fine, reading was encouraged, but under no circumstance were we allowed to ever cut or rip any of the alluring pictures from these beautiful, yellow coloured books.
So, we browsed, we read what we understood & tried never to be tempted by the amazing photos, staring back us from every single page. And we succeeded. At least, most of the time, we did.
But every now and then a magazine would end up in our hands with an issue about Ireland in it. Pages filled with pictures of wild, rugged coastlines, deserted fields full of wildflowers, limestone houses & rolling green hills stretching far and wide. Pictures so grand, so inspiring, so very very tempting…..
I don’t know why my sisters & I were obsessed with Ireland the way we were as kids. I don’t know why we pretended to have curly, red hair or why we ran through the garden with ceiling mob-horses between our childlike legs, pretending to gallop over those grassy hills & mountains. I don’t know why we insisted on listening to dreamy, Irish ballads before bedtime or why our imagination ran wild every time we saw pictures of that faraway country. Maybe it were the stories; those famous, ancient myths which somehow found their way across many miles of land to reach our ears & crawl into our receptive minds. Or maybe it was the obvious contrast between the dusty, dry land outside of our window that made us take notice of that green country so far from where we lived. Whatever it was & whatever the reason; we were in love with a country we had never been to & where we, in all likelihood, wouldn’t go to anytime soon. And so our dream was born…..
Just this week, I apologized to my father for ruining his magazines, for ripping photos from the articles he might have wanted to read. In retrospect, I can see how all these half-finished stories about that green Island must have been a little frustrating for him.
So, to avoid any further annoyance, my sister & I decided that it was about time we would leave National Geographic magazine alone & start making some pictures of our own. Time to see it all with our own two eyes. Time to make a dream come true
And so, we booked a ticket to Cork, got onto the bus to a little coastal village called Glengarriff & set out into the vast, green world that is Ireland.
In the coming few photo- updates, I will share some of my Irish holiday stories & pictures with you. The pictures are, by no means, like those in National Geographic magazine that made us fall in love with this country in the first place. But they are my own pictures, taken while finally exploring the one place I have wanted to explore as long as I can remember. It’s a collection of images I took while climbing steep hills, dodging startled sheep & finding my way down slippery rocks. It’s Ireland through my eyes, captured while my sister & I were having the time of our lives, living the dream that started when that very first National Geographic ended up in our hands.
All pictures are shown at random & they were all taken on the Beara Peninsula, a beautiful, almost unexplored peninsula on the south-west coast of Ireland. Here we hiked a long distance walk, the Beara Way; an unforgettable experience, about which I will tell you more real soon…..
About TV-guides, holidays & the absence of new themes
I guess I’m kinda like our TV-guide; in the summer it appears in a special double edition, covering two weeks of TV-listings instead of just the one. I suppose people on the editorial office also want to go on a holiday every now and then, so printing an extra thick TV-guide seems like a perfectly smart idea to make up for the looming lack of staff.
I don’t have staff. Neither am I going on a holiday yet….but somehow my creative blog-mind (if such a thing exists) has slipped into snooze mode during the last couple of weeks. I’m late with every weekly post, I have been struggling to keep up with talking pictures & when it came to finding a new theme for July, the real trouble started. So many ideas ran through my mind, but none of them really appealed to me. I started to randomly shoot some images, hoping inspiration would hit. But when an afternoon of shooting numbers, toys, flowers, food-items ect. ect gave me nothing but a collection of mediocre pictures & a teary eye from staring through the viewfinder too long, I had to admit that it simply wasn’t happening.
I sat on the ground, camera in hand, toys all around, wondering whether to mind or not to mind too much. I thought long & hard, the way I tend to do, and then decided it was fine. Decided to give myself a break, give that silly mind of mine the rest it apparently needs every now and then.
In fact, I think I’ll give myself a little bit of a summer holiday. That doesn’t mean I’ll stop posting altogether, it just means that I’ll be updating whenever I feel like it. And most importantly, it means I’m not going to find a new theme for this new month. I think I’ll just stick to the June theme; not just because I can’t come up with a new theme, but also because I truly love this theme & feel there is plenty of room for more beautiful, sweet or funny Dutch words. I’m having fun exploring this theme & I suppose having fun while blogging is what this is really all about.
And all I can hope for is that you all love this theme as much as I do & that you won’t mind the lack of innovation too much.
Well, this is my update for week 26 & week 27. Hope you like it. And if any of you are about to go on a holiday; have fun, take care & hope to see you again soon:)
Just another Friday. But a Friday drenched in emotion & paralyzing disbelieve.
Yesterday, as I was putting this post together, the world was trembling. A wave of violence swept from north to south, east to west, leaving this world in a bigger mess than the morning had found it in. Bombs exploding, chaos in the streets, questions flying everywhere. So much hate, so much separation & so little compassion. News of casualties came sliding into my news-feed, an avalanche of sadness covering my desk & mind within a matter of minutes.
Often, when I think it can’t get any worse, it gets worse. Just when I feel we’ve seen it all, they show us more. At times my soul cringes & I wonder how I am supposed to hold on the gentleness of my mind. How to stay kind, to stay hopeful in the face of this hardening world. Must I lose my innocence? Must I become immune for suffering, for violence? But then what will become of my empathy? My compassion? My humanity?
I looked at the colourful & silly pictures I had just put together and wondered whether it was right to post a collection of such insignificant images on a day when every moment feels soaked with deeper meaning. All that I had done seemed suddenly futile, so out of place.
But is it not this silliness, this beauty & these seemly pointless little art-collections which keep me sane? These posts; the words, the pictures, they are the only stand I can take against the madness & the destruction all around. Every image I look at, everything I create, is a reminder of the beauty of this world. I think I believe that the meaning of life is to be found in our day to day lives. And as long as we go on living those lives, we take a stand against those who want to scare us & who continue to undermine our freedom. As long as we go to work, we read our books, we watch the news, we raise our voice & write our letters. As long as we refuse to lose our kindness, our softness or our compassion, we are winning. And it’s not an easy task. But most of the time, it’s the best & all we can do. And I believe, if we do it best we can, we will continue to be the very best versions of ourselves…
Friday, just another Friday. But a Friday on which colourful flags were proudly raised, as people celebrated in the streets. A Friday on which other flags were lowered in a wordless attempt to right all the wrong that was once done. ‘Amazing Grace’ was sang by a group of mournful voices; its soothing notes stretching out into the sky, finding their way to the shores of faraway countries were nameless people died under the same heavens. A Friday on which people went for dinner, watched their favorite movies, cooked their favorite meals. A Friday on which educated minds bend down over reports & recommendations, written by educated people, trying to solve issues no one ever thought to educate us about. A Friday on which we triumphed and failed. We mourned and celebrated. We kissed, cuddles, laughed, cried, fell down & got back up again. A Friday on which we lived, loved, laughed, hoped & feared.
And a Friday on which I marveled over silly little words for silly little things; feeling silly and elated and sad and hopeful and frightened and happy all in one simple day. And I suddenly understood that that’s probably what life is like. Most every Friday & most every day…
This blog is late. Very late. In fact I think I haven’t been this behind with updating since the start of this year. I wish I could tell you why it happened. Wish I could explain about all the zillions things I did while not updating this blog. But truth is that I, for some reason, did very little & I don’t even remember what I was doing on those Wednesdays I usually spend updating this blog. Time simply got away with me. That’s it.
June has been an unusual month so far, marked by heart-warming & slightly unexpected reunions. My brother came home & so did my sister. And, as reunions tend to do, this brought about a whole range of wonderful emotions. I was overjoyed to finally have the family together again. To finally be able catch up on life.
But this long overdue meeting also brought the realization that time moves quickly. That weeks, months & even years pass by faster than any of us seem to realize. And we hardly seem to notice, until we are stopped in our tracks & look into the faces of those who grew up beside us. And then suddenly it is undeniable. Because the little boy, who was your brother & the small girl, who was once your sister; they have all grown into the adults beside you. Still your brother, still your sister, still the same, yet so different.
I look at the people who were there all through my life; those individuals, my siblings, who now live their own adult lives, who meet new people, who create memories I will never be a part of. Those brave souls who are venturing out into the world, leaving me behind with a head full of moments & a heart full of love.
‘Where have the years gone?’ I ask myself. ‘And what have I done with them’, I wonder, suddenly feeling older than I really am. What do I have to show for it all? I look time in its watchful eyes & try to decide whether to be proud or disappointed. What have I been doing while they grew up to be people with jobs, husbands, wives, dreams on the brink of coming true? Who on earth am I in this circle of beautiful, capable people?
As you might have read between the lines by now, I have been a bit of an emotional train wreck in these last few weeks & even something as simple as combining words to pictures seemed an impossible task somehow. My inner-critic was more than happy to take the lead & left my humble self confidence in ruins. And so, for a moment, I stopped believing in the pictures I make, the words I write & the project I trying to finish. Everything I made suddenly seemed unimportant, imperfect & silly even. And I wondered why I should bother at all. I suppose I just stopped believing in myself all together. For a while.
But then one of those incredible, beautiful & extraordinary siblings of mine, stepped in. Embraced me with arms full of familiar warmth & unconditional love. Embraced me so long, so patiently & so completely that she put me right back together again. Embraced me & scared off that silly inner critic of mine, creating space for hopefulness to flood back in.
This blog is late. Very late. Like I am. And have been. Most of my life. Late to the game, I suppose. Late, but I always keep on going…