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.

Renaissance Soul

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.

My lifestyle

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.

Warm regards,

Carolien Oosterhoff