... or better "essentialism", as it is called these days! It is very simple: minimalism is freeing!
You get to be free of too many encumbrances, too many "things" bearing your down and making your life difficult eventually. These things need to be taken care of, they need to be cleaned, to be tidied up, to be ordered. We all have too many things in our lives already. So why not pare down and minimize down to the rather small number of items which we really need and enjoy?
I am not a wonderful housekeeper, so I have kept my home always relatively free of "things" so as to not have to clean too much. But I DID have a lot of clothes! So many items that I rarely wore., some (and I am quite ashamed of this!) even with the tags still on them: failed purchases! So over the last year I have passed on clothes to my sisters, have donated bags full of quite nice items, and have become very rigorous in keeping track of what I really wear (and wear with comfort and pleasure) and what I thought I would like and would make me look stylish but still won't be taken from the hanger enough.
I am still not down to 33 items (there's a great minimalism challenge by that name), but there is free space in my closet and I feel much better about the things I own...
I think we all need encouraging. Always. An encouraged person is a better person, better able to love because there is self-love.
I first realized how important encouraging is during my cancer healing 11 years ago. Never one to share my feelings too openly I had eventually decided to join a support group.
To my huge surprise I ended up being most moved by our group closing ritual, when we all joined in reciting: "You are good just the way you are. There is nothing miss with you. You are right and good and nothing needs to be changed."
Having always been blessed with a very positive outlook on life, a personality that made social contacts easy, I had always been (and to some degree still am) a pleaser - always trying to make it good for the other. And a striver, striving for personal improvement, studying hard, trying to go deep in spirituality - never quite meeting my own goals. That I was "good enough" came as a surprise.
It took a while to believe it - and it felt good. So good that I wanted to share this good feeling with others. That's when I became an "encouraging trainer". There's lots on this website about encouraging, about the process itself, about the 10-week-training, and about where it all came from. I personally owe my encouraging training to the Schoenaker Academy here in the Netherlands.
... I love styling, home decor, interior architecture. It's a passion I haven't really permitted myself to live which I regret a bit. All my life I was convinced that it was "shallow" to keep my myself occupied with the beauty around me. Now I am old enough to stand by it.
I won't go back to school to get a degree in interior design, but I have managed nice projects here and there (like the make-over of a small apartment, the results of which you see in the post image, I will report on the project a.s.a.p.). I love helping friends making their spaces just a bit nicer, have fun doing this with very little financial investment. It's great fun for me to hunt for just the right small - or not so small - item that makes a room look great!. Sometimes it gets even a bit more professional: I am presently consulting on the interior design of a small boutique hotel in Kathmandu which is very exciting. More on that later ...
And every once in a while I do a home story, also of my own home, like I did on my Nepal-Blog (www.nepalnow.blog/?s=house+filled+with).
... because I absolutely LOVE to travel and I am happy to share my experiences.
As I am still working (might have to hang in there for another 2 or 3 years before becoming a pensioner), my travel time is still limited. But working in Germany permits you 6 weekds paid leave. Which I ALWAYS use up.
At least once a year I "must" go to Nepal to check up on my artist friends and the art scene in Kathmandu (I also blog specifically about modern art & modern life of Nepal at www.NepalNow.blog) and then there are the vacations with the husband, too. This year we've already been to Senegal, my first time ever on the African continent - and we have another trip coming up in September: Ireland!
So there's plenty to share, including also the smaller excursions like city trips or long weekends at the coast with my son and grandkids ...
11 years today I was just finishing my chemotherapy, having battled breastcancer. It was no easy year, but neither a terrible one. I enjoyed having loads of time for myself for the first time in my working years. I was confident to get better and I did.
I had been quite healthy even before the cancer. No overweight, relatively much physical activity (though besides doing yoga regularly no "real" sports). I had eaten quite well and my life was not that terribly stressfull.
So why the cancer? I never found a good reason. I didn't completely change my life, although I did learn to express my feelings somewhat better and I did return to sing in a choir. I am still a "flexitarian", enjoying a good piece of meat, cherishing my pasta, nurture my love of (only very dark) chocolate. But I am more into sports than earlier in my life.
Getting into sports - I do weekly personal training and kickbox-fitness - had less to do with the cancer, though, than with my 60th birth impending many years later. So three years ago I decided that I wanted to get "strong" before it was too late ... and that was the beginning of regular training.
And this training ist still hard. And I still have to battle low motivation. And I still get upset when my muscle percentage is down again and my bodyfat percentage up! And when I am not getting my 10,000 steps in every day.
So there's a lot to share on health ....
... please go to www.NepalNow.blog, the platform where I post regularly!
1: The Crowd Cheers (My first prompt ... and my last, too, haha):
You walk outside and there's a crowd of people standing there, cheering your name. As you stare at them, they cheer louder and more people join in. What are they cheering for?
… one last look in the mirror of the elevator, check lipstick and sigh at the little wrinkles between my eyebrows and going down from the sides of my mouth to my chin. Seems since I recently turned 60 the wrinkles have become more visible – or am I just more aware of them?!? Did I never quite see them before? Oh, well, just keep treating my face lovingly with the recently purchased “healthy” cosmetics and not think about it too much!
The elevator reaches the ground floor and I prepare to go outside, enjoying the sun during my lunch hour, even though it’s a cold day. Huh? Why are there so many people crowded before the entrance of the building? Will I be able to push through this crowd to get to my regular sushi joint?
What are all these folks doing there in the middle of the day, stopping pedestrian traffic? They are chanting?!? What are they calling?
Beata, Beata, Beata – oh my goodness, why in the world are they chanting my name, cheering ME? Me of all people, but I am just a normal, happy person?
Stepping outside I see banners – noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo, I seem to have won some kind of award for the work I have been doing for my artist friends in Nepal and my preschool there. This is in-cre-dible! An official recognition of the work I have done for “modern art & modern life of Nepal”?!? For having created the Facebook page for the NepalNow Project and the blog www.theartofencouraging.com, and for all the money I put into the preschool?!?
A warm glow begins to build inside of me, I let the cheers envelop me and let them wash through me – aaaaaaaaaaaah, this DOES feel kind of nice. With tears in my eyes and a simultaneous big smile on my face I begin to thank the people around me and hug those I know … no more thoughts of grabbing my sushi, this is the moment to share the joy with all the people who have made the effort to come and surprise me in such a wonderful way …
Anyone wanting to join this challenge? If you think it would be fun for you, too, you can sign up here!
Did you even know there WERE contemporary artist in this small Himalayan country, the Shangri-la for trekkers and mountain-climbers, wedged between India and Tibet? That you can find hip hotels, great coffee, and a vibrant art scene in Kathmandu? (Check out www.nepal-now.net !)
So you are actually interested in modern art, ready to buy original art maybe for the first time, not the rich collector (yet) but on the look-out for professional works at a good price. Then contemporary art from Nepal is exactly what you are looking for.
Five reasons why buying modern art from Nepal will make you feel good:
1. You get great works at a great price - even though that may be kind of obvious when you are buying stuff from a developing country with a whole different income level.
2. You support young artists in a chaotic country with lots of problems - but still a country which allows for great creativity in the midst of a struggling economy.
3. As the art scene is still rather manageable in size, chances are high that you get to meet "your" artist personally, may that be virtually or actually face-to-face on a trip to Nepal.
4. You get to feel a real "patron of the arts" as one of the first Westerners to become involved in acquiring works from outside the country - and instead of being an anonymous buyer you will be personally valued and cherished.
5. Your support can really make an impact as artists tend to spread their new "wealth" from international sales by setting up own art projects with community activities (e.g. lectures, discussions, workshops for street kids ...)
And last but not least: the art is great!
So let me help you to buy your first piece of contemporary art from Nepal. After 20 years of visiting Nepal again and again, and a good decade of immersion into the young art scene of Kathmandu I can be the link between you and my artist friends in Kathmandu via www.chautara.nl and www.NepalNow.blog .
Two and a half weeks in a totally different world, full of bright colors, strong smells ... and wonderful people. I spent a very large part of the time with my "family", yes, it really feels that I have family there now:
There is Shekhar, who is now director of "my" preschool in Imadole, a suburb of Kathmandu (see www.kinderhaus-lalitpur.com), and his wife Sujana (a superb cook and the academic director of the school), and their little son Sudhan.
I meanwhile have a loooong history with Shekhar, we've been friends for almost 20 years - ever since we met during my first trip to Nepal, a Langtang-trek, when he worked at the reception of my hotel in KTM. Two years ago we founded the school together and it is now running well with 29 children from nursery to UKG (upper kindergarden) classes.
For me it was the first time to be in KTM during the big holidays and I hadn't expected that the impact of the 15-day rituals would be quite as extensive: the city was practically empty, the traffic was so sparse that it seemed to be "bandh" (total shut-down of traffic due to political strike actions, something which happens regularly) - a very high percentage of the population seemed to have fled the city! With the wonderful result that there was much less dust and exhaust fumes ... which hit us just the harder on the last few weeks of my stay when life in this megalopolis turned back to normal.
Due to the many rituals and the family-orientation of the holiday I couldn't really meet my artist friends for quite a while. So I got to participate in rituals at our house, such as the "vehicle puja", when both the trusty little motorcycle and the school-van were blessed:
And we actually went on a small vacation with the family to Pokhara, 200km (but a full day's drive) from KTM, on lovely lake Phewa, where we enjoyed clean air, great food, boat-rides on the like, a fine hotel, and watched for hours as the paragliders took off for tandem jumps high up on the hill above Lakeside. And I changed my opinion: after a steadfast "no" to this suicidal seeming endeavour I might now try to jump myself on one of my following visits!
After the holidays were over I shifted to my beloved TINGS LOUNGE HOTEL (www.tingsblog.com) to be able to move around town more independently and I DID get to meet most of my artist friends. After an extensive studio visit there was a yummy lunch with my Kasthamandap Artist Collective friends at Bricks Restaurant, thanks Asha/Erina/Pramila/ Bhairaj/Binod for always being there for me ...
And I got to see many more artists like e.g. Chirag/ Bidhata/Hitmaan/Mekh/Saroj/Mahima, visited the brandnew Kathmandu City Museum with its clean-line architecture, the new Childrens Art Museum, several galleries, enjoyed helping with a fundraising event for Bikalpa Art Center ... and ... and .. (more pics here: www.nepalnow.net/2014-ktm).
I still haven't quite figured out why I am so happy in Kathmandu: it certainly has to do with the warmth (both climate-wise with 23-30 centigrade and much sun every day but also the warmth of the people extended towards me), the chaos (which is absolutely maddening at times but also great fun), the good food, the wonderful encounters and the general sense of "ke garne" or "what can we do", a shoulder-shrugging attitude that takes a lot of stress out of life - while it also can be maddening at times when things just don't seem to get done!
But for me being in KTM is ONE BIG EXERCISE IN SURRENDER - surrendering to not being able to control the schedule of the day, surrendering to not having electricity when you need it, surrendering to just being... and that does me good! Much good. I relax, I rest, I don't take myself so seriously, I let go of any (or at least most!!!) attempts to control. And I am better for it ... and happier.
Now the big question is: HOW TO HOLD ON TO THIS IN MY EVERYDAY LIFE?!?!
It is hard to believe, but already a month has passed since graduating from SCHOENAKER AKADEMIE in Genemuiden! What a wonderful last weekend of the training did we have and what a fine ceremony and celebration. We DID it, all 8 of us: Andrea, Haleh, Femke, Janny, Lilian, Ruth, and yours truly. With great thanks to our teachers Julitta Schoenaker (and Theo Schoenaker, the founder/creator of the "encouraging trainings) and the wise coaching and supervision of Katja Goepfert.
7 times we got together since September last year, for whole weekends and some Saturdays - time filled to the brim with new insights, lots of learning, sharing, openness, heartfulness, some tears and much laughter!
We all did a first run-through of the ten-week encouraging cursus with friends and/or family from out of our own livingrooms and then dared to to a second run-through with "real participants" outside of our homes. How much we learned, how much we were gifted with by the participants during the process! Both run-throughs were supervised and we had to write up all sessions and got valuable (and loving!) feedback on our work every single time.
Some more slowly (myself) and some more quickly did we grow into the role of being a facilitator to help people re-discover how they can encourage themselves and others, how they can become their own best friend, see again how wonderful they already are, unearth treasures of self-discovery, and always, always also direct their loving, constructive attitude to those around them! Encouraged beings, in the world to encourage each other ...
A SPECIAL THANK YOU TO YOU, THEO SCHOENAKER, FOR BRINGING THIS GEM OF A COURSE INTO THE WORLD, and thank you for your wisdom and sparkle and laughing eyes and for all you were willing to share with us during this journey!
Love After Love
Beata, all-round encourager:: of art and artists of Nepal, of a preschool in Kathmandu, of the great work of encouragement based on Adlerian psychology and the Theo Schoenaker's concept!