Flow: Connected to the Stream of Life

Last weekend, Sunday to be precise, we had a magical day. Our car was at the garage. That’s why we decided to go by train to a birthday party. From door to door it would be little less than two hours. At first I thought this would be crazy; travelling with two kids who would be exposed to a continuous flow of impulses with a minimum chance of both of them taking a nap. But then again, it was all a matter of our attitude towards the trip. So I decided to enjoy every step of the way.

Our first encounter took place in the train. We met a lovely bright-eyed lady, she was radiating pure love. We started talking, because of the kids. I believe kids and animals are quite often used as a stepping stone to connect with people. But soon enough the conversation changed to exchanging our food habits and our view on how to eat clean. The lady, brought up in Zimbabwe and now living in the South of England, mentioned that she craves for salads and fruit. She also bakes with buckwheat, alternative grains and coconut oil. Arnold’s food heart was especially lifted up by this meet-up, because of his vegan lifestyle.

The lady works as a painter and uses her art to support and guide disabled people. Suddenly, in a flash of pure excitement, I said to her: I have a gift for you. She answered with a blush: ‘A gift? But meeting you and your kids is to me a big gift. I brought along books which were recently self-published. She was very happy to receive a copy of the Dutch book “Ben ik boos? Dan mag dat!”. It is on how to deal with anger when you are highly sensitive. She immediately thought of her sister who works as a biographical counsellor. She would be interested in this book.

After this lovely encounter Arnold and I exchanged a few words and lots of smiles, because we felt the same. By having decided to go to this birthday party by public transport we stepped into the flow of life, of exchanging our highest selves, our ideals, simply who we are connecting with other beautiful and loving souls on a mission.

The second surprising encounter took place on our way back to The Hague. We met a very sweet Brazilian couple with their dog. Again, thoughts on food were exchanged. Arnold’s vegan mind shook hands with Brazilian BBQ and fastfood lovers. At the same time they were indeed conscious about food. This all came about because of their dog. This dog was skinny at first, he refused to eat canned animal food. He only ate when he was starved; he would stroll to his food at 3am in the morning. His health condition alarmed his bosses. They dived into the information on animal food and discovered that canned animal food would contain the worst parts of the meat. Not to mention chemicals and other non-nutritious ingredients mixed into the food.

They decided to go for healthy. Their dog gets to eat cooked vegetables and raw meat from the butcher. They admitted with a huge smile that their dog eats healthier than they do. Although, of course, this was a bit exaggerated. During the week they would focus on healthy foods and weekends were for fastfood. And all the while I was thinking: Oh my god, their dog taught them to do conscious food shopping! Fantastic.

Our last encounter took place in the bus. Our youngest is such a social guy. He puts effort in locking eyes with woman. This time he met the eyes and soul of an Indian woman. I noticed she was struck by pure love. She kept on saying what a sweet boy he was. She was travelling back home. The Netherlands has been her home for 15 years. I asked her about the Indian community in The Hague, because I love the Indian-English accent. She didn’t know, because she was a part of a diverse International community due to working for an international organisation. Then I asked her about the best Indian place to eat in The Hague. She gave the best possible and surprising answer, namely: “My home”. We shared laughs.

This Sunday turned out to be one of our favourite days in 2017. The flow we stepped into took us to Zimbabwe, England, Brazil and India. It took us to having these interesting serendipitous encounters. Actually, in my view, every encounter is a chance to share your highest self, to share your view on life, your heart, your soul. It makes the world a lot friendlier and cosier, where ever your from and where ever you reside at this moment. The encounter taking place feels like creating a home where you can laugh out loud, be curious, ask questions, receive and give. I love it.

A few days later I received an e-mail of the lady who received my book:

Lieve Chungmei,

Firstly I would like to say how much I enjoyed meeting you and your lovely family. It is through these surprise encounters that I feel so enriched and connected to the stream of Life! Your book has been such a gift to me for which I am very grateful. I am still reading and digesting it, but will give you more feedback later. I just wanted to touch in and thank you ‘voor het cadeautje’!

Veel groetjes en het allerbeste met je mooie werk!

I feel the same.

By the way, our kids did great. Even though it was an exceptional long day for them.

HSC: re-organizing quality time and recharging energy

Photo by Ouxu Cheng

May Holidays in The Hague. It’s such a blessing to free up time so easily with the work I am doing as a life coach. Yesterday my holidays began and my first working day will be next week Wednesday. Yeeaahoe! That means quality time with my family, sleeping in, bake, cook, organising our house and having more time to create fun business related but also personal related stuff.

And yes, it would have been wonderful to go on this trip to the North of Holland for a couple of days, but we cancelled it. We organised it a couple of weeks ago, but last Monday evening we decided to skip it. Mostly because of the sleeping rhythms of our children. Our youngest Dían is learning to sleep in his own room. Since his room is next to his big sister Amé, she is temporarily sleeping in another room. His possible crying or I-am-not-ready-to-sleep-mode could keep her awake.

During Easter we did go up North to visit family. Although we had fun it was actually very tiring. Dían had trouble sleeping at night, probably processing all new impressions and smells of the room we slept in. Yes, we are a super highly sensitive family. The way he slept and didn’t sleep kept me up at night. Logically, the following day I was extremely tired. And when I am tired I am not a fun person to be around with. I am not in the mood for talking, nor playing, not anything.

We were conscious about this experience, but somehow forgot it when we were busy making plans for a fun trip.

Luckily it kicked in last Monday evening. Right on time. Better to cancel than to be overloaded by extra impulses and coming back to a messy house. Now we have more time to organise our house and recharge our batteries.

And even best, to spend quality time with each other.

Today we had a friend of Amé over. They played with Dían, he was in play-heaven while receiving so much attention and interacting with them. They went outside to pick flowers to make necklaces and bracelets, but when back they used the flowers to make perfume. In play everything is possible.

While they were having a blast I caught myself being a wanna-be-slow-parenting-mom. Dían played on the balcony, showed me his dirty hands and I took a wet towel to clean his hands. Amé friend said ‘it’s sand, you can just wipe it off his hands’. Aha, indeed, by using a wet towel it got even worse, because, of course, he immediately put his hands on the floor and they got even dirtier. Hmmm…reality-check wanna-be-slow-parenting-mom! Secondly, after they returned, the floors were covered with soil and flowers. I vacuum-cleaned second time around and then it hit me: why not wait with cleaning until play-date is over? Gosh, I think I need a specific course in letting go off the cleaning and start playing.

Finally, after all baking and preparing foodwise for Kingsday, I felt space to play along. They totally got psyched by the idea of me giving birth to a baby. Dían was my cat, but as soon as I would have given birth to this ball I had wrapped around my waist with a scarf,  Dían the cat would turn into my newborn who would need breastfeeding. I had to give birth sooner than expected because Dían asked for breastfeeding.

The thing with musicians is that our hobby is our work

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I often meet nice, colorful and inspiring people. One man I recently met is called Roberto, he is a musician and teaches private classes to children and adults in The Hague. I asked if he wanted to be featured on my blog. He was glad to be and below you can read the result.

1. How did you start out as a music teacher?

I started out as a part time job while studying music. It turned out there was a high demand for music teachers for children, to me it seemed a natural job to do. With time I realized how much I like it. I received many positive feedback of students who were happy with my classes.

2. What is your music background in terms of education, experience and passion?

It all started very early. Through my parents I have been listening to classical music since I remember. We were listening music together, talking about it and playing games like “Who made this music, Mozart or Beethoven”. Then as a teenager I started to listen to bands and contemporary music. I always met up with friends to listen and see videos of music. I didn’t play my mom’s guitar, that was resting in its case for ever, until a school teacher taught us to play guitar. Then I had a couple of good private teachers and it became clear that I wanted to be a musician. I have a bachelor in arrangements and composition of popular music in Santiago, Chile, and a master’s degree in Sonology (electronic and computer music) from the Royal Conservatory in The Hague. There I acquired another passion which is computer programming related to sound and music.

3. How did you end up teaching in the Netherlands?

In 2002 I came to study Sonology. First it helped me during my studies, but eventually it became my main job.

4. Could you describe the people you teach; adults and children? What type of instruments do you teach?

I teach mainly children in the age range of about 7 till 18 years old. I do teach a few passionate adults too. I mostly teach guitar but also solfège, theory and harmony, depending the interest of the student. And to some I also teach how to produce music in a home studio situation.

5. What type of music do you like?

All type, but when it comes to listening music by myself, I like the kind of introspective one, music that searches the hidden corners of the consciousness. It might be the singing of African Pygmy, or an orchestral piece by Arvo Part. But it all depends on the situation of course. In general, my preference goes out to music that is an expression of an artistic or personal neccessity rather than music made with commercial goals.

6. What do you love most of teaching?

It is really rewarding to see my students achieving things that at the beginning appeared to be impossible to them.

7. What are your interests besides teaching music?

The thing with musicians is that our hobby is our work, but besides that, I like to travel, to meet new people and places, to eat well and healthy and to enjoy nature, but mostly spend time with my family and to see how my daughter grows.

8. How can people get in touch with you for music lessons?

People can write to me at garretonroberto@gmail.com. I teach in English, Spanish and Dutch.

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Life Coaching: my journey in rebirthing

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This year my summer holidays wasn’t only about going to the beach, eating ice cream, reading books, discovering new spots nor any arty farty stuff while a Summer storm ravaged the Hague. Lots of my attention went to rebirthing. Out of pure necessity.

Day in and day out I have guided rebirthing sessions. I’ve undergone rebirthing sessions as well and it has been an exciting and insightful journey inwards. It all started in February this year. My partner came back from a rebirthing weekend organised by an institute named AUMM. His rebirthing experience and stories about other people’s sessions made me very curious. As if my wish was picked up by the universe, I am enormously grateful that I was guided into a rebirthing session only one week later. I cried unstoppably and without a sense of time for an hour.

Let me explain to you what rebirthing does. Rebirthing consists of different breathing techniques, but the one breathing technique which activates surpressed emotional blockages goes as follows: while breathing we connect inhalation with exhalation and exhalation with inhalation, in doing so we create a circular motion of breath. In rebirthing this is called ‘connected breathing’. This connected breathing could activate different physical symptoms like feeling cold all over your body or the opposite super hot like fire, a tingling sensation in arms, legs, face or just about everywhere, itching and the sensation of wanting to curl your feet up or move your knees from side to side. Whichever physical symptom arises depends on who you are, what kind of emotional trauma’s you’ve had and in which stage of emotional consciousness you are in.

By the end of June I started using ‘connected breathing’ in my coaching practice in combination with coaching techniques such as Neuro Linguistic Programming and Social Panorama. The results were fenomenal. In this stage my experience was only based upon my and my partner’s rebirthing experiences and by reading the books written by the founders of the AUMM institute. Before I decided to put my knowledge and experience to practice I had been through a major personal development regarding my role as a professional life coach; I had eagerly watched Suzanne Powell on YouTube and it was the first time in years that I found myself a teacher, someone I wanted to learn from. Her knowledge and experience affirmed how I live and think as I guide others to discover themselves while letting go of emotional burden.

Parallel to this development I struggled a week long with different life courses I could run: shall I write my book on high sensitivity, attend a four-year study on rebirthing or go for our second child? Off course I discussed all of this with my partner. After some talk we decided to go for our second child. I am happy to announce that I am almost four months into pregnancy. So ‘rebirthing’ has another meaning to me; going for our second real-time birth experience! I have to say, this life changing decision has put every work-relation ambition I had in a broader perspective. Off course writing a book and study can wait, but I would have been enlightened If I didn’t struggle with the following: how can I continue my journey in rebirthing when my full attention went to family and working life?

Out of personal and professional interest I did find time to read the books on rebirthing. And somehow the answer to my question just appeared out of doing my work. While guiding sessions one day I used the rebirthing technique without a lot of thinking. As I guide intuitively I just do what I feel is needed to enable the coachee to let go of limiting thoughts, behavior and emotions. As I have mentioned before, the results were fenomenal. Rebirthing to me has shown it’s positive effects while guiding people who have a hard time talking about their feelings. The positive results took me to investigate the topic even more. Within a short period of time I have mastered this skill with help of books, YouTube video’s, pure practice and loads of reflection; writing down every single detail of the rebirthing process.

This blog closes off an insightful and breathtaking Summer holidays, but the journey continues! As I mentioned in the first paragraph, this journey was started out of necessity. Some people who follow my writings already know, but to the ones who don’t know, my partner is suffering a severe headache for almost six years. So embarking on this journey wasn’t because we were so thrilled to cry our eyes out, instead we had a goal in mind and this is ‘living a life in good and vibrant health’. Before I go, there is one more detail I would like to share: one tiny part of me questioned my professionalism in embarking our rebirthing journey without having done a four-year long study. At the beginning of this week I got hold of a book by Susanna Tamaro ‘Louisito’. On the back of the book I read that she acquired international fame by one of her books called ‘Follow Your Heart’. I went online to read some reviews and came across the paragraph below:

‘And when later many paths open for you and you are not sure which one to take, don’t haphazardly choose a path, but sit and wait. Breathe with full confidence as deep as you breathed on the day you came into the world, without being distracted by something, wait and keep waiting. Do not move, be quiet and listen to your heart. Whenever that speaks to you, get up and follow his voice.’ ~ Susanna Tamaro

These words took away my doubt. I am very happy and grateful to have followed the voice of my heart. The rebirthing journey continues while every cell in my body vibrates of professionalism and a strong motivation to live my life in good health and help others to live theirs.

Moving abroad for a couple of years

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A dear friend of mine came over to see me in The Hague. I wasn’t expecting her to tell us that she would move to London next year. Her husband got offered a job and they are in the midst of settling an arrangement to move their family including two little kids to London for three years. This has been their dream for many years and they didn’t think a chance like this would come by any time soon. Truth need to be told that she had kept this a secret for me for some months, because they wanted to be sure before sharing this huge news with friends. I was left in shock.

Why? And why so soon? The first emotion that popped up was that I would miss her. That all would be different, even though we have already struggled with meeting up while both living in the Netherlands. Straight after she had told me I opened up to what I was feeling, tears came rolling down my face. She embraced me and I just let it go. To be honest, I am proud to share that I was able to open to all my emotions and thoughts. When I look back at the times I have done this I am sure this started happening from this year onwards. It feels like I have been through a miraculous shift when it comes down to showing my tears to family and friends. I feel comfortable and safe in doing so.

From the moment she lives in London I imagine we would become more efficient in scheduling our get-to-gathers. Perhaps we will start using facetime or videoskype. Many people I know use these means of communication to stay in touch. Like having breakfast on a Sunday morning in ones kitchen while seeing and talking to family in Switserland. Actually I don’t want to think about this future scenery anymore, because I prefer having my friends living around the corner. Even though I would like to have more contact with my friends abroad I tend to keep in touch for a couple of times a year and be so, so very happy when I actually see them.

Of course I haven’t cried all the while she was visiting. Tears and laughter in my life are like two hands holding each other in good and bad times. I took her to the Hague city centre to discover a healthy juice and lunch café named Fine Fresh Food. Their vegan brownie and the savoury juice I tried was splendid. Furthermore we discussed our work and initiatives we are exploring in the field of psychology and lifecoaching.

Oh, I forget to mention one little detail, a few days before she came I literally thought to myself ‘Would I like to live abroad for a couple of years?’. I was surprised by this thought, because it came out of nowhere. On top of this at the beginning of this week our daughter told us she wants to go to England to speak English. Most likely we had a hunch of this message coming our way. I told my quite down-to-earth friend about our presentiments. She laughed and took it lightly. Life is about sharing right? There is no distance in time and space.

Life Coaching: letting go of tears and fears

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Let’s start of this blog with a deep sigh. I feel blessed to be able to bring light to people’s lives. That’s one thing for sure. And now it’s time to write about it. I haven’t done so for a long time, because I was pretty occupied with family life, main life events and work. As of this summer we live in a really nice neighborhood in The Hague. We enjoy being surrounded by lots of green, all facilities and our daughter’s school close to our house. After almost elf years of working as a coach in living rooms (one-on-one coaching) and on locations in several cities in the Netherlands (workshops & training) I may proudly announce my first separate working and coaching space at home. Let me share with you some of the life stories that has come my way.

When a thirtysomething year old guy told me that he felt ashamed to share certain thoughts and feelings while he was seeing a psychologist I was struck. I exclaimed that it is necessary for his development to start sharing all of his thoughts and feelings. What one gets out of psychological guidance is the amount of ‘you’ one puts in. You need to be willing to work with what you have. It’s not the psychologist, therapist or other type of mental guidance who will pull out all of your pain and fears. But on another note, it could be helpful to talk to someone who does get you talking about all the things that you are ashamed of. During this session I felt I needed to share some of my experiences guiding highly sensitive man. Sensitive man could go through a phase of doubting their sexuality. Bingo. He had struggled with this topic as well.

But what if you just don’t know what to tell me? Than I could put myself on a repeat spreading the message ‘You need to be willing to work with what you have’, but it won’t bring the coachee nor me any further during the session. This young lady was sitting on the couch and told me with a big smile that everything was going well. She started her studies, moved to a student apartment and works in catering to maintain herself. Looking back on the previous session there could still be some emotions blocking her from living freely, but at this point she was smiling. After having asked a few questions about her life the pain came out: carrying a huge load of responsibility for her divorced parents and little sister. Because she cared for all emotions and thoughts of her loved ones she was left out in the whole process. She needed to give herself some loving attention and one way to do this was to start sharing more of her life with her loved ones.

Before people start lifecoaching with me they haven’t got a clue of how far they can come in terms of feeling secure, confident, happy and cheerful from within. Another life story which moved me deeply was the story of a woman in her late fifties who was still mourning her husband who passed away six yours ago. Up until this point of no return she had taken care of him for years and years after he had a severe accident. For almost fifteen years she hadn’t felt those little butterflies starting of in the belly and flying up to the head bringing feelings of ‘being in love’. This confused her to the max and brought her to a devastating phase of mourning again, of finally and definitely starting to let go of the man who showed her to love.

More and more stories are coming my way and I embrace them. All these stories turn me into a channel from which I intuitively coach; reflect, react, summarize, feedback, intervene with coaching techniques and share life stories with the intention to reframe thoughts and feelings which are limiting the person to live fully. Again, I feel blessed to work as a life coach helping people to embrace life from their core strength and desire to live.

You cannot heal a lifetime of pain overnight, be patient with yourself, it takes as long as it takes to rebuild yourself.

Parenthood: I want to go faster and higher

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Yesterday I had an interesting encounter with a lady from Romania and her daughter (4 years old). My daughter and I were playing at a playground in The Hague city centre. (Rabbijn Maarsenplein) As always my daughter found her playmate within seconds and it happened to be a lovely looking bright eyed girl. Before the two mums exchanged a word the girls were already communicating non-verbally and verbally. The verbal part was especially interesting. My daughter spoke to the girl in Dutch and the girl responded in English. But was English her first language? Over a conversation with the Romanian lady I found out that the girl chose English to be her first language!

The girl is growing up in a household where her mum speaks Romanian to her, her dad speaks Greek and her parents speak English with each other, because neither one speaks the partners language. The girl started speaking English when she was going to childcare and from there on she chose to speak English at home. As if three languages wasn’t enough already she is now even capable of communicating in French. From December last year she attends the French school in The Hague. Their motivation to get her admitted to the French school was a practical one. They were advised that the French education system is the same in every country they would travel to. And that they will travel is a certainty, because the girl’s father is working for the Greek embassy. In the midst of all changes they wanted to provide their daughter a stable and dependable education system. I’ve heard some horrifying stories about the French education system so I was curious after their experience.

The Romanian lady spoke about teachers reprimanding children who somehow disturbed the class. They would be set apart in another class for like ten minutes. She thought there wasn’t something wrong in their way of handling disobeying children. There were no horrifying stories shared here. Another story she did share was one regarding the primary school our daughter will start attending from September on. It’s the JFK Montessori school in The Hague. It is a remarkable story of a teacher who walked into a class where the children were talking loud and making lots of other noises. The parent who shared this story with the Romanian lady witnessed the teacher started singing in a soft voice and the children responded to this with lowering their voices and noises. Amazing!

I found it particularly interesting to listen to all these stories, because of her open attitude towards these two different education systems. She was happy with the French school and at the same time understanding and in awe of the way of teaching at a Montessori school. But there was a huge difference in the way our daughters thought and interacted with each other. On a basic human level they connected in a playful way and there was a continuous desire to interact and have fun. But then somehow when both girls were on the swing the girl told her mum to push her higher, because she wanted to go faster and higher than my daughter. While shaking her head slightly as if to say she’s not agreeing nor happy with this attitude, but nevertheless with a smile, she explained that her daughter is very competitive in every aspect of her life.

I have the feeling she didn’t link the competitiveness with the people that her daughter is surrounded with in school and the education she is receiving. But I’m not sure, perhaps she is aware of it and dealing with it in her own way. For now I believe they have other concerns; they will start packing for their move to Teheran this August where they will stay for two years before moving to Greece for two years. It seems that in between all this instability the French education system provides them the certainty they need and believe their child needs.