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On a personal note

The Early Years

Born in the Netherlands (1960), a fairly adventurous youth saw me travel-work throughout Mediterranean Europe.

My journeys eventually brought me to South Africa in 1984, where several years later I began my career in the healthcare sector as a hospital nurse in Cape Town. After completion, in my wish to broaden my knowledge and experience in healthcare I worked for Weleda South Africa, I trained as a therapeutic masseur and underwent the Reiki initiation.

In 1994 I moved to the small village of McGregor in the countryside of the Western Cape, where between 1998 and 2008 I practiced as the in-house therapist at Temenos Retreat Centre, combining that function with private care work.

A Life Ends

In 2008, the aggrivation of a spinal injury caused by a much earlier MVA, resulted in sudden impairment and severe chronic pain, forcing me to abandon all my hands-on care work. This was a big crisis in my life, not in the least because of the lack of a clear future prognosis regarding my functioning.

Thus started a decades-long, agonizing journey of losses, therapies, hopes, disappointments, interventions, remedies, medication and experiments.

Notwithstanding all efforts and time and money spent, some 14 years later I find myself in varying degrees of physical pain and associated impairment, requiring a constant tweaking and adapting of activities.

The first stage of transformation is known as separation – separation from all that was, but also separation from everything that could be. It is a death, of sorts. Experiencing this, I ‘fell into nothingness’, terrified, confused, panicky and entirely lost.

The next stage is called liminality, from the Latin ‘limen’, meaning threshold. Adrift on the dark waters like Odysseus in his Vessel of the Sun, without a beacon, without direction, hope, neither a sense of self. To be in liminality lasted some time for me. Although I had decided to train as a life coach and bring my health care experiences together in an online practice, this action was mostly born from financial necessity and from the need for ‘something to do’, but not supported by inner confidence and clarity.

For a long, long time I attempted to replace the rational losses in terms of work and purpose. But when many, many years and efforts of doing differently brought no peace, the quest for being differently began.

“When we are no longer able to change a situation,
we are challenged to change ourselves.”

– Victor Frankl

And when the situation is severe and all-encompassing, the change will have to be equally severe and all-encompassing.

Indeed, very few events have such an all-round impact on all areas of life as do chronic illness and disability. From work, income, social life and many personal roles to self-esteem, mood swings, sense of self and sense of meaning – no dimension remains untouched. And because of this, changes in all these areas are necessary.

But why? Why go on? How can any person look forward to a life that falls so far short of what he or she had planned, wanted, and expected?

A Life Begins

Here we enter both the personal and the existential realm. Too vast to go into in this brief context, suffice to say for now that each person has her/his beliefs, values and convictions that support and carry them through a life full of uncertainties, options, dangers and the unexpected.

In addition, as the course The 5 Stations of Life Purpose  will show, there is no absolute when it comes to life’s purpose and meaning. Each person is in search of their own ‘mission’ or life purpose – the very thing that makes her/him unique in this world and with a task that only s/he can fulfil. But that purpose is seldom clear and seldom a given.

Sometimes the next step in our Life Purpose is born out of a crisis that pushes us into the place we truly belong, but for which we do not have the courage to go there voluntarily.

For myself, I was able, mind you, after much rebellion, protest, grief, anger and refusal, to accept my crisis as a defining moment – a moment that would allow me to redefine who I could become.

Would allow me, I say, because we are always free to say ‘no’. In fact, the potentialities that lie ahead can only be realized when that road is chosen by the individual in freedom.

Two things motivated me to go on:

  1. the conviction that life is a process of becoming and that in this process, sometimes restraints, losses and disabilities lead to a personal transformation we would not have chosen voluntarily.
  2. the wish to translate both my own experiences and those of the many wonderful people I have worked with in similar situations, into easily-accessible, to-the-point facilitated programs and courses that will be of benefit to whoever finds her/himself on that threshold of needing renewal in the most profound areas of their life.

My troubles have not ceased, but that is now my reality and although I cannot keep myself from wishing it were different, I now know that the quality of my life is largely defined by how I decide to live with my fate.

There exists a reciprocal relationship between the severity of the restrictions we encounter and the calibre of transformation that is possible. The programs and courses offered by Heart and Soul open the way to that transformation. No matter your circumstances, you can always recommit to your life, even if that has to be a day-by-day step.

Sometimes the smallest step in the right direction ends up being the biggest step in your life. Tiptoe if you must, but make that step.


Certified Life Coach
New Insights™

Counseling Dip.
Blackford Institute UK

Counseling Dip.
Complementary Therapists Accreditation Association

Depression Counseling Advanced Level Dip.
Accredited by the International Association of Therapists.

Psychology of the Elderly & Gerontology Certificate
Accredited by the International Association of Therapists.