Once upon a time, in Fryslân (1967)
I was born as the 3rd child in an idyllic village in Friesland. My mother told me I stopped breathing the first night but my rumbling woke her up. Hooray for mothers and instinct: she did what she was supposed to do and slapped me on my tiny baby buttocks so I breathed in again. I can’t tell you how happy I am she did. We lived on the countryside for 5 years and we then moved to a different, busier part of Friesland where I spent my time playing, climbing trees and going to school until I was 18. Old enough to think I was ready to conquer the world. Ha! What made me tick as a youngster was sports (athletics, tennis), music (guitar, singing), adventure (camping, traveling without a plan), creativity (writing, photography) and above all: my friends. I was a sweet and delicate rebel – but always with a cause.
(So if you’re here and you think: whaaaa Carolien, ‘I don’t give a f*ck about your biography’, read on here, and see if I can help you make your documentary/film, or train/coach you).
Once upon another time, in the world
As of my 20th I traveled a lot (Nepal / India / Indonesia / Malaysia / Thailand / Vietnam) and I lived and worked abroad a few years (Santorini, Greece; Lausanne, Switzerland; Santa Cruz, United States) and finished my studies of English in Groningen too. I don’t know how I managed to get my degree in 4 years but somehow I did. I was living an adventurous life and clumsily divided my time between countries, passions and obligations and ended up doing everything 50%. Between my 25th and 40th I lived this seemingly perky life: oh, it looked really good on the outside. Working at A-employers, earning big money, competing / partying / boasting with colleagues and friends. But in reality I felt stuck because I felt split between what I thought others needed of me and what I wanted out of life. But it’s not the circumstance that defines who I am but my attitude towards it, so my blended background of colourful careers (where I eventually performed far better than my professor predicted) was worthwhile after all. I worked as a teacher in high schools (4 yrs here, here) and consultant/trainer/coach (14 yrs, here, here, here & since 2009 I am self-employed).
Hope deferred makes the heart grow sick
There is an interesting proverb that says ‘hope deferred makes the heart grow sick’. Our passions are, essentially, what we hope to do with our lives. When we defer or deflect them our heart gets sick. I had lost my purpose a few times in my working career. Sometimes ‘just’ for 4 weeks but sometimes also for months in a row. So when in 2009 I decided I wanted to be self-employed, it was the beginning of a deep transformation on all aspects of my life. If you have total freedom to achieve those things that are most important to you and you take 100% responsibility for your life, the truth reveals itself. And once you see the truth, you just cannot un-see it. This coming-out of my heart’s desires lead to growth and loss at the same time. I lost a part of my business but won my heart’s purpose: life was asking from me to be more creative. I took up a camera and then fell pretty wildly in love with the idea of becoming a filmmaker. This was the time to combine everything that was dear to me: writing, philosophy, music, poetry, psychology and telling meaningful stories. So I went back to school in 2012. Before directing I wanted to start where I think every director should start: with learning camera, sound & editing to get acquainted with every aspect of filmmaking. Full disclosure: I also use my filming work to move towards self-actualisation. It is some sort of occupational therapy to fulfil the need to express myself.
I came to realise that having completed several degrees in a few different disciplines is actually an advantage. I have the opportunity to group-hug my talents with my 20+ years of working experience. It’s all a matter of how you look at things. Just like good wine, I now feel how my life is an art that gains in savor and subtlety with experience and time. My nowadays heterogeneity is the result of what I do with existential struggles: I turn them into curiosity so instead of feeling burdened I learn. Radical honesty and self-reflection is part of my every day life. I also think I am a true ‘Renaissance Soul’: I am curious, eager to learn, adventurous and talented in more than one area. Today I am sure that when I look back on my life there isn’t too much non-refundable life that got lost in this pursuit of building on the dreams of other people. So? Where does that leave me? Well, I am exactly where I need to be; the only place I can be.
There are a few things that have interested me since I was young: I am especially interested in optimising. My life, your life, the world. I know that the elasticity of our intelligence, talents and abilities are strongly influenced by our mindset and beliefs. So I challenge it often and I test my doubts through reading, writing and experimenting thoroughly. Another thing: the more I follow my heart, the louder it speaks. Next to training, coaching, giving massages and doing filmmaking, I find true joy in painting, singing in a classical choir, cooking the best vegan food there is, going to the oldest arthouse/theater in Amsterdam, long distance walking with friends and almost everything that covers D.I.Y. projects (be it from repairing my own computer to how-to make your own soy milk). The ‘art of living’ fascinates me so besides feeding my mind (I spell the newspaper e-ve-ry day, I read paper books and I never stop studying) I take care of my body as well. I would say I eat roughly 93,73% plant-based (that remaining 6,27% is the no-stress zone, you see ;-). I walk 10k a day, (to get rid of stress and feel my body), long time ago I quit cold tofu with smoking and ever since a fellow Buddhist meditation practitioner enlightened me to, instead of having wine every evening, get mindfully drunk one evening every other month or so I hardly drink alcohol. All in all: I am taking this life pretty seriously because I want to get a lot out of it but by no means am I a puritan. Lord no! Forgot to mention that I could honestly win awards for my sleeping skills. Hey, I can’t count the amount of times I dream I’m a motorcycle! (Vrroom. Gasp. Vrroom).
Make sense of the world and contribute
So you got it, I guess: if you try to fit me in a box, it’s highly likely you won’t find any. I don’t believe we humans are hard-wired to maximise self-interest so next to my daily work I also work as a volunteer: yearly in the Tuschinsky theater at IDFA, I worked as a photographer for UNICEF and some years I co-organise the children’s program of Plum Village (the Buddhist retreat centre of Thich Nath Hahn) in France.