“I’ve discarded all of my blogs, all of my programmes, all of my workshops, all of my papers – in fact, everything.”
The past 15 years (from 2007 to 2023), I held a professional role as a Behavioural Trainer/Coach. First as an employee
and the past 13 years as an entrepreneur. During these years I provided – with ups & downs and some twists & turns – Training & Coaching services to approximately 1200 caregivers, conscious entrepreneurs, teachers, employees in companies, massage therapists, CEO’s, psychologists, entrepreneurs and therapists on both national and international levels. My primary focus over those years was to help Professional Practical Idealists, as I like to call us (people who want this world to a be safer, more honest and greener place) them becoming more autonomous, self-conscious and radically honest human beings through the use of Emotional Bodywork, Systemic Work and Transactional Analysis. I think I’ve profoundly guided my clients by teaching them how to be a living example to their clients. Consequently, I had to present myself as a living example to them. Because I am a dedicated student myself, I turned into a true and, I thinkg, ‘good enough’ teacher. Throughout those years, I pursued a multitude of education to enhance my professional skills, as we are indeed our own instruments in this line of work. And like every human being, I of course also had my own issues that I had to address, in order to be able to perform this job well (or may be: at all).
In 2023, I allocated a period to rethink my business and business approach, because I felt stuck. I wanted to allow time to reveal to me what steps I ought to take next instead of making it a rational journey. However, as I couldn’t afford to take that time without a source of income, I endeavored to find freelance work to generate earnings, thus ensuring my peace of mind as well. I quickly found work for two evenings as a massage therapist (with 12 years of experience at this) at Corpus Rub
, I work ± two afternoons as a freelance pedagogical staff member (being a teacher by education) at Natuurfontein
and I expanded my work as a caregiver. It would also afford me the time and tranquillity to confront my most challenging personal matter – my resurfaced eating disorder from the past few years for which I found excellent help
. So, al in all: I yearned for a transformation, yet while sensing that need for change, I couldn’t pinpoint what exactly it was that needed adjustment. I just needed time, time, time. It was during this period that I discovered two pivotal revelations:
From Human Behaviourist to Animal Behaviourist
In 2021, my beloved canine companion entered my life. Bobbie
is an Australian Labradoodle (♀ 28-08-2021), and I love her more than anything in this world. She has turned my life upside down in every conceivable manner. I really believe that the affection I hold for my dog mirrors the emotions experienced by parents upon the arrival of a baby. It’s insane how much I love her. But! We had a lot of challenges too. She had this obsession with tennis balls that would put a seasoned Wimbledon ball boy to shame. Then, I found out that Labradors/doodles are culinary explorers on a continuous quest for the most peculiar and, shall we say, ‘unconventional treats’ the urban jungle has to offer. Plus, my beloved troublemaker also happened to be Queen of Leash Pulling. So, there I was, – leash in one hand, dignity and restraint in the other – wondering silently if I was really ready for a dog in this life. Naturally, my time, energy and enthusiasm were devoted to familiarising myself with her, and gradually, my aspiration to pursue a professional career with animals slowly began to take shape. I began to get a real interest in training her when I saw the positive effects I had on her. And so, following my experience as a human behavioural trainer, I now aim to dive deeper into animal behaviour studies and I will start my three year School of Canine Science
this year. So you get it: this is my modus operandi: once I’ve processed my own journey, I transform that into a service and then I am naturally enthusiastic at what I do. I simply fell in love with another career. That is what time and peace of mind can do…
, I now offer assistance to dog owners by providing dog-walking and dog-sitting services for their beloved companions. And I know myself…I probably
unquestionably also will also start selling hand-made products for dogs, ecological dog- soaps, vegan leather products, and so forth.
, my former Training & Coaching company I now offer first-time dog owners who are triggered by their furry friends my Deep Listening service. Well, now you know why ;-). When Bobbie pushed all my buttons I couldn’t find ‘a soft place to fall’ with my emotions that were stirred up. All trainings I found were for the dog and the dog owner together. I just needed a place to vent. Now I am helping other owners who suffer (and who also love their dogs like crazy) and give them my compassion. And hey, some coaching too if they like. But concrete, with tips and handy ideas.
Additionally, I harness my proficiency in Filmmaking to craft – what I call – Dogumentary making; capturing the bonds the dog and the owner share in an unforgettable manner. Beautiful films of people’s dogs across seasons and years
You see? I am crazy passionate about animal welfare and this is what that looks like. I devote my entire life to it.
Back to Buddhism
The next thing I needed to investigate is why I lost my interest in my work as a Behavioural Trainer/Coach, or so I thought. I didn’t get it, after having been passionate about human behaviour for so long! But then it dawned on me. It wasn’t my work. It was the marketing I was tired of. The world has undergone transformation and being a trainer/coach in 2007 or being a trainer/coach in 2023 are two entirely distinct matters. There are a great number of coaches by now (95.000 in The Netherlands alone!!), and I am afraid that marketing wise at was at the end of my rope. I needed to undertake – to consistently fill my groups – a dedicating minimum of 10 hours per week to secure sufficient clients. After having completed all marketing courses I could think of, I strongly sensed that the equilibrium between the effort I was putting into it and my personal benefits I was receiving, was no longer proportionate. Or perhaps I simply wasn’t as proficient in my role as I believed, notwithstanding the numerous excellent reviews. Alternatively, maybe all the other/most trainers and coaches are also
encountering difficulties with getting a sustainable business from their entrepreneurship but they’re hiding that truth. Or perhaps they have a partner who looks after the primary income, or they hold a regular job alongside it but feign being full-time entrepreneurs. All of which I comprehend, as stating that one doesn’t earn enough to make ends meet is akin to bestowing the kiss of death upon one’s company. Anyhow, I felt as if I was in a love relationship with me doing a lof of effort and my beloved simply wasn’t answering all my calls. I had enough of that.
I am stepping into freedom
So, what was next? Discard all of my work? Sell my company? Find someone else to do it? I investigated it all. And then it struck me how exactly I desired to proceed. I made the choice to pursue another passion that had lain dormant in my subconscious for an extended period: I aspired to establish a Buddhist Sangha, drawing from my experience as a student of Thich Nhat Hanh since 1998. Indeed, for those familiar with my journey, it’s quite possible that you are aware of an intriguing chapter from 2016. Back then, an opportunity of great significance unfolded before me: an invitation to serve as a filmmaker at Plum Village for a duration of a year. However, as fate would have it, certain circumstances intervened, causing the progression of our desire to come to an unexpected halt. Despite the initial enthusiasm and shared intentions, the path towards this unique venture took an unforeseen turn (I did shave my head though
). I am stepping into freedom. From now on I no longer work on a commercial basis in Training & Coaching but I do like to be of service still in ‘my’ Sangha. To be frank: it seems that it’s only in the past five years that I am reallyreally starting to understand Thầy’s teachings. What better way to change other people’s lives by – again and again – practice my beginner’s mind and organise gatherings. So I’ve started a Sangha. And as it goes when everything falls into place again: financially, things suddenly go well. I earn enough with my dog business + I remain involved as a freelance massage therapist, nature teacher and caretaker too.
Understanding means throwing away your knowledge
I’ve learned one big thing in the past 15 years in my work (and that is mainly why I am good at what I do): we teach others what we have to learn most ourselves. And now my puzzle is completed.
I’ve discarded all of my blogs, all of my programmes, all of my workshops, all of my papers – in fact, everything. Yet, it hasn’t disappeared; it’s all woven into the fabric of my entire life and in everything I undertake.