The way she sings this song

A couple of weeks ago I got to know Tamera Foster via X factor UK. Only 16 years old and she already knows what her true passion is. I have seen this performance many times, it touched me right in the heart, time after time. Actually it didn’t touch me; that would not describe in the least the impact of her performance. It literally pierced right into a wound which was still there, tears were running down my face, time after time. That’s why it took so long for me to blog about it.

This is what happened, while listening to her, her performance changed into a metaphor for life. I believe everyone has come to a point in life when a combination of fear and nerves has led to a black-out. In many cases it could have been a traumatic black-out which has limited one to act out of strength and love for oneself. When Tamera was going through this awful feeling of being lost she asked permission to step of the stage. Backstage she asked for help.

I am convinced that this is the most powerful thing you can do for yourself: asking for help. After having heard the specific words she needed to hear she went up the stage again; still blurried by tension, but from now on willpower carried her throughout the song. Now it was up to her. It carried her while still experiencing fear and tension during first half of the song. What moved me were the facial expressions of the jury: they supported her fully.

She did it, like I believe everyone can do! The moment when she was in sync with herself and everyone around her she was heard: her voice is amazing! I know she is blessed for knowing at such a young age that this is her life goal and she is going for it. Having found a vocation in life means also overcoming it’s hurdles to finally simply shine from your core being.

Before choosing this path she was lost, from the moment her voice was heard there is still work to do, but a fulfilling and rewarding life is awaiting her. A change is preceeded by a choice: choose for whatever makes you happy!


Positivity: seeing the bright side of life


Somehow, whatever happens, I always keep on seeing the bright sight of life. Two dear friends told me, shortly after another, that they experience me as a very optimistic person. ‘How do you do that?’ they asked me. ‘How do you remain optimistic when I tell you that I don’t see a way out here. I feel horrible, my life is falling apart and I can’t see this leading to a better and more positive situation. I’m hopeless.’

When friends reach out to me and share their grief and disappointment in life and most of all in themselves, I start to say things like ‘also this will pass and you will get out of this situation as a stronger and more loving person, you are a beautiful human being whose always prepared to help or assist in some way, you are worth it, it’s by taking small steps that you will reach the point where you want to be, everything takes time and you will get there for sure, look at all the things you’ve done up until now’. So yeah, it comes out like that: naturally and without thinking. I’m totally and utterly convinced that every situation will turn out for the better.

So how do I stay optimistic? It’s because of my aunt. I have a lot to thank her for. She is one of the strongest people I know and she invested a lot of time and energy in us, children; her own children and her cousins. She showed me how it could be done. Listened to me, talked to me. She let us experience the fun stuff in life in stead of only studying and working. She is the one who taught me to be resilient in any kind of situation. ‘Keep on doing what you like,’ she told me.

You’ve got a heart as loud as lions

‘You’ve got a heart as loud as lions. So why let your voice be tamed?’ ~ Emeli Sandé

One week ago I heard this song for the first time in the supermarkt. I was caught by it. It wasn’t the lyrics, somehow I didn’t hear the lyrics, I felt the music. I believe it was a mixture between pain and a sense of loss or being lost. Since I didn’t caught a line of the lyrics, I hoped to come across this song soon. A couple of days later, again in the supermarket, I stopped walking and listened carefully. This time I was able to look it up later at home. To my surprise I found out it was a song full of hope telling us to let our hearts speak out loud in stead of pain and a sense of loss. But then again these two go hand in hand. Hearing and using one’s true voice means truly letting go of the physical and emotional pain which was holding your voice back. This song is on ‘replay’ ever since I discovered it.

Peter Pan quotes: never grow up!

Peter pan

All children, except one, grow up.

Every time a child says, ‘I don’t believe in fairies,’ there is a fairy somewhere that falls down dead.

All you need is trust and a little bit of pixie dust!

I’ll teach you to ride on the wind’s back, and away we go!

So come with me, where dreams are born, and time is never planned.

I ran away the day I was born. It was because I heard father and mother talking about what I was to be when I became a man.

If growing up means it would be beneath my dignity to climb a tree, I’ll never grow up, never grow up, never grow up! Not me!

All of this has happened before, and it will all happen again.

Forget them. Forget them all. Come with me where you’ll never never have to worry about grown up things again.

The story of Tara

With my shot of today’s prompt ‘Warm your heart’ goes a story, the story of Tara. Tara is one of our six cats. She came last and is very special. She has given me so much (love, warmth, signs) and she is the reason that I am an animal photographer today.

Tara came to us in the summer of 2005 as a stray. Eric and I had just moved to our new house a few months before and were still in awe about all the new things around us.

She came accompanied by a male stray cat, which looked very unhealthy (but later on happened to have a home). Me being a true animal lover I couldn’t just let them be and started feeding them. Soon Tara opened up to us. She warmed my heart and I became infatuated with her.

I started trying to find Tara’s owner. Hanged flyers at the local shops, asked around, and phoned animal shelters. But no owner was found. Because we already had six cats around the house (Eric had three and I had three, that is how we met, but that is another special story), we couldn’t give Tara a home (so we thought).

So after six weeks Eric and I decided that the best thing to do was to bring Tara to the animal shelter. The day I brought her to the shelter I was heartbroken. She sat contently on my lap in the garden giving me her trust and love and I just couldn’t say goodbye to her. But I had to be brave. I picked myself up and brought Tara to the shelter.

At that time I recently had lost my job and as a return favor I signed up as a volunteer. I also just finished the first year at the Fotoacademie. Working at the shelter gave me the perfect opportunity to do what I loved most, caring for and loving animals and using my camera.

I started to photograph the animals, mostly cats, on a daily basis and got more and more inspired by them. I even succeeded to bond with the problem-cases and bad tempered ones. One evening, after another depressing talk at the kitchen table discussing about what I should do with my life, I was shaken awake. Eric pointed out to me to have a closer look at the thousands of cat photo’s I had made. I had created some pretty amazing shots. Could I do something with that? That hint opened my eyes and I had found my passion.

After three months of voluntary work at the shelter I found a job again and it was time to leave. Tara still lived at the shelter, waiting for someone to give her a home. In the meantime she had given birth to two lovely kittens. Unfortunately she had stayed in a very small cage for three months with her kittens. From a loving and trusting animal she turned into a vicious little witch. That broke my heart again; nobody at the shelter loved her but me. Knowing this how could I leave her behind?

So we decided we definitely could not leave her at the shelter and she became our seventh cat. The same day I took her home she turned into her loving self again, tried out all the favorite cat places and felt at home right away. Fortunately Tara fitted into our group of cats perfectly and she has become a loving tease.

Until much later I discovered the little heart shaped patch on Tara’s ear and all I could do was smile.

Some animals are chosen because there is a connection. Others touch your heart with a message. Either way is special. Luckily I chose to follow Tara and later on chose to give her a permanent home with us. What would I have missed if I had made different choices? Although I love all our cats dearly, up to this moment Tara is my very special friend and, strangely, I am her favorite person (sorry, Eric, but it is true).

I don’t believe in coincidence and think that a life lesson goes with this story. If you don’t know which direction to go with your life or what to decide just ask yourself questions and let go, look around you and be aware of signs you get, people you meet and be patient. The things you need sometimes come in unexpected ways. (It took me very long to figure it out and I needed Eric’s help to see what was clear ahead. And there is still lots to be learned for me).

The road to being successful as an animal photographer is not an easy one. But when I think of the story of Tara I know animal photography is meant to be for me. I need to persevere in what I love most. (My word for 2011 is perseverance).

That is why Tara fits the prompt ‘warm your heart’ perfectly. She truly warms mine.

Check out more photo’s taken by Jofabi!

Coachee Jennifer: I asked and I received


I would like to thank you for clearing up the two timelines I am living right now. Now I am able to allow myself to grief for the child I was, i wanted to be and who I couldn’t be. Everytime when I was sad or angry I thought that I was ungrateful. This didn’t match with how I saw myself. I see myself as someone who is grateful, curious and blessed and I believe this got me through the rough years. But now that it is more clear to me I can embrace the child within me and grief and celebrate at the same time. And I would like to thank you for this.