How I got to start this blog….
For my very first blog post I have chosen to do a bit of a free writing exercise and just let the words flow. I have spent a good two months preparing the website, and now I am ready to publish it and start writing and posting the stuff that I am passionate about. That is a lot, so this blog might end up covering a lot of ground over time. From meditation and yoga posts to nutrition, skin care and healthy habits. I will explore the phenomenon “comfort zone” and invite you to check in with yours. There will be posts about fear and what it does to us, about karma and how we can use that as a tool in our lives. I will talk about creative living, trash and doing something different, about patience and compassion, self-love and mindfulness AND I will write with regular intervals about Pumpkins the cat.
It’s all his fault. Blame it on the cat. When he walked into my life and I reluctantly let him stay, so many things happened and fell into place for me that I felt a compelling urge to start writing about it and create this website. I had been playing with several ideas for blogs in the last couple of years, but never got the guts to start one. A case of major laziness and procrastination, of not wanting to get out of my Karma Shack comfort zone (that is 4 blog topics in one sentence).
I love writing, always have. Already as a little kid I would write 8 pages for an essay assignment in the time that other kids barely managed to squeeze out 4 sentences. I used to have pen pals (yes I grew up in an era of snail mail, and it was so much more exciting to come home from school and find a letter on the doormat, than getting non-stop notifications popping up on your phone!). I journaled for years as a teenager (and burned those diaries years later when I found it too embarrassing to even finish reading through them again) and never procrastinated writing a paper for a school assignment. All of my ex-boyfriends would receive one or more long letters after we broke up, in which I would explain exactly how I felt and what I thought about them (I wonder if any one of these guys has kept one?).
My father was an art critic for a major Dutch newspaper, my uncle director of the Royal Library in The Hague (and he co-wrote a Dutch translation of Alice in Wonderland, how awesome is that?), my brother has had his own advertising and publicity agency where he has been doing all the copywriting himself for probably 25 years now. So I guess the writing runs in my blood. And even though I am making a living as a yoga instructor and body and energy worker right now, it seems that writing has edged itself sideways into my life after all, in a similar way as the cat has. It snuck into my life so subtly that there was no one point where I could say no! And now it has become a heartfelt YES for writing (and for Pumpkins the cat)!
I tell you all this, because it is actually quite significant. This blog is the living proof that every now and then you have to open your mind to new and scary things (a cat!, taking a 30-day writing challenge!, starting a blog!), to give your innate passion a chance to come out and express itself.
If I would not have let that cat edge himself into my life I would not have started to contemplate on myself and life in general the way I did when I was observing him and commenting to him (well, to myself, basically) on his process of domestication. His evolution from wild bush cat into loving and loveable house cat seemed to mirror and relate my own process of learning to love myself and be loved.
The longer Pumpkins hang around and the closer he got to me, the more I caught myself thinking that between him and me we had some serious write-worthy material going on…… Then a friend visited. A musician, poet, song-writer and singer. I told him about Pumpkins and about my personal parallel journey. He said: “Girl, you got a book there!”. And that’s when I knew I wasn’t making things up. It was a story worth writing, and I started the very next morning. Soon I realised that this cat story could consist of a whole series of short chapters, each with their own theme, which is perfect for a blog. And having to keep up a blog would be the ultimate accountability trick to keep me writing and not let the whole project end in a writer’s block or the lame excuse of not having enough time. With a blog, you have an obligation to your readers to show up regularly. Now I cannot avoid writing that book, one blog post at a time. So yes, Grant Peeples, you are another cat-alyst that made me start this blog by telling me I should write that book.
A few days after I had decided to write the book, I received an email announcing a 30-day online creative writing challenge. The timing seemed significant and it wasn’t too expensive, so I signed up for ‘Write Yourself Alive’. And boy, did I write myself alive! It was so much fun, at times liberating or very challenging, going deep into myself or just making it all up in the spur of the moment. It was a month of being totally immersed in bringing out my true self, in writing. The connection with other participants was encouraging, and I felt inspired and motivated every day, just by the act of sitting down and writing for a couple of hours. I learned that some creative action every day actually creates inspiration for your whole day, for all the other things you have to do that don’t seem very inspiring, like laundry, shopping and working to pay the bills. Although I have been a creative throughout my life, I had never consciously learned to use creativity as the motivation-tool that it totally is.
So after the cat and my poet-friend, this 30-day writing challenge became the 3rd and decisive cat-alyst to start this blog. Now I had a peer-group that encouraged me and which could hold me accountable, since I wrote on the group-page that I was starting a blog. There was no way back, I was going to be a blogger…
Starting a blog involves creating a website, which you can make as simple or as complicated as you want. I had never done such a thing before, and identify myself as a total digital dinosaur. (I always explain how I left the Western world in ‘the last millennium’ which sounds so awesomely ancient. People had just started to use hotmail accounts then, e-commerce had still not really taken off and less than a third of our population had a cell phone (I bought my first one a year ago). Just to give you an idea).
I have always nurtured quite a bit of fear for computers and other digital gadgets, because they tend to shut down on me, freeze in my hands or even die when I just look at them (I was glad when I found out a couple of years ago that there is a scientific explanation for this phenomenon, and that I am not a witch again, as I apparently was in a former lifetime). My last computer outlived its one-year warranty by nineteen(!) days before it passed away from one day to the next. Beyond repair.
So yes, the digital world has me somewhat daunted. Which meant that wanting to start a blog/website was quite a bold decision, which definitely got me Out Of My Comfort Zone big time. I googled “How to start a blog”, found a helpful website written for dummies, and got a tip for a web host that has user-friendly templates. They said that creating your website would be as easy as drop-and-drag……..well, kind of, but not completely. Being the writer-formerly-trained-as-designer I will of course not settle for the simple bloggers template. I need more personal input, AND I have a business, that I might as well put on that website now that I am making one. Add to that all the interesting stuff related to the Karma Shack and everything that I learned through it….This should be much more than a cat blog. The project started to take on serious proportions.
Scary digital design for a good-sized website….and I was still not giving up? Wow, where did I find that motivation I hear you ask? I know, I was quite surprised and amazed myself.
Of course it went wrong many times, and I got quite intimate with several of the chat help desk assistants of the web host. Most of them are quite patient. Only a couple of them started throwing code at me, which I just whacked back at them immediately. There is going to be no code in my life! Thank you.
At a certain point I had been messing up so much, that I decided to start all over again. Mind you, we’re talking days of work here…. and somehow I was still motivated to keep going. At one point I gave a friend a little preview. She said she was impressed and I realised only at that moment that I was as impressed by myself as she was. Which made me laugh, proud and determined to finish!
The learning curve so far has been steeper than your average Nicaraguan volcano hike, and will continue to go up for quite a while longer (note to self: learning as a blog topic). But for now I am just happy that this website is up, and that I am blogging. A new phase in my life has just begun, and I am very excited about it!
I hope you will get a little enthusiastic for me as well, that would be very helpful, thank you so much. Some cheering on, some constructive feedback, a little pep talk, some appreciating comments,…you know, the small stuff that makes or breaks a person’s ego and related motivation……Go on, you spent probably about 8 minutes reading all this, you might as well take another two minutes to write a little comment……I dare you to do some creative writing yourselves, it’s very refreshing!