Nomen est omen is a Latin proverb meaning ‘the name is an omen’. My parents choose to give me the very unusual Latin name of Auxilia, so I guess I was destined to be a helper (‘auxiliary’). My name foretold my passion but it took me thirty years to get it!
My crib stood not in my parents homeland but in Spain, where my father taught Dutch at the University of Madrid (UMC). Spain was under Franco’s dictatorship and relatively poor. As a child I was fascinated by the slums in the outskirts of town. In summer, when Madrid was quivering with heat, I felt extremely sorry for the dirty kids that walked barefoot on the hot asphalt. My protected life took mainly place within the walls of a local nun school. I felt 99% Spanish although my looks were not so Latin, being one of the few blonde kids in school. I was ‘different on the outside, same on the inside’.eo.
When I was ten, my mother, brother, sister and I moved to the Netherlands. My father stayed behind in Madrid. The change came as a shock. Nobody warned me that my life would be different. I looked like all the other blond children around me, but I felt distinctly different. I thought the Dutch children were rude and direct. I missed my Spanish friends, and when I watched the sunset, I longed for summer vacation so that I could return to ‘my real country’.
As a teenager I lived in the Netherlands, a country that I came to trust as the years went by, but I still dreamt of my birthplace. After I finished my studies in economics (International Management and Culture), I was given an opportunity to study at a Spanish university, and so I took the bull by the horns. I was twenty-three and could establish myself basically anywhere. But, to my surprise, my fatherland felt different to how I remembered it. I felt like a stranger in my own country, though I didn’t feel typically Dutch either.
Thus began the great search: I changed jobs and moved several times, I experienced the difference between the national and international work environment, took a sabbatical, twice, to travel the world and shifted, through communication and research, to a area of expertise that I felt a deep connection to: psychology and coaching. This meant that by the time I was thirty, aside from a demanding job, I was spending a lot of time studying and participating in courses, but I did it, and indeed still do, with a lot of pleasure.
When my third child entered into this world, my husband was offered a job in the Bahamas, and this seemed like a great time to say farewell to my job at the judiciary and to embrace being a mother. I would have lots of time and space to develop my skills to become an independent coach/counselor and to write the novel that had formed in my head. On paper, this was a great concept, but in practice it was a struggle. As a trailing spouse, I felt robbed of my identity and developed some very somber emotions. I was sitting in paradise, but had never felt as unhappy as that in my life. I noticed that I was not the only unhappy expat woman around town.
When we moved to Houston (USA), I had more freedom to work and to develop myself, and I focused more on expat psychology. In hindsight, many puzzle pieces started to fall into place. If only I had known this before… I realized that with this knowledge I could help other women.
Five years later we moved back to The Netherlands. I did not feel at home in my passport country right away, but this time I had realistic expectations. I knew mourning would be part of the process, my kids would struggle for a while, friends would have closed the gap we left and I had to reinvent life again. It does not take the pain away but it makes you more patient. Once settled, I was ready for a new life chapter that makes sense out of all my experiences, studies and ambitions …
Having traveled the world and experienced the enormous difference between the rich and the poor makes you aware of what is really important. I felt a growing need to do something meaningful with my life. I started to question myself: What would be necessary for this world to ‘evolve to its next level’? What would be necessary to create a world for our (grand) children, in which everyone is treated equally, feels safe, and receives an opportunity to uniquely contribute to this world? My influence as one single human being is not great, but every little bit counts. I believe more in the bottom-up changes for people such as you and me, than I do in the top-down changes laid down by governments and institutions. If we all use our talents to fight hunger and injustice, help another to reach his or her goal and to ensure that we take care of this earth in a good way, then we will meet a bright future. This does mean that we need to distance ourselves from our egos and the status-focused society that we grew up in. And we need to learn to work together.
And thus my inner and outer journey have lead me to find my life’s mission!
I hope to make a small contribution to a better, more conscious world through the following activities:
- I will do my best to raise my children to become authentic and responsible adults.
- I will coach expat women so they can flourish and connect with their inner fire. These women are often caught in situations, but all have the ability to uniquely contribute to this world.
- I will coach refugees and hope to give them support and make them feel at home, in their host country as well as in their own skin.
- I will write (novels, articles) to raise awareness. My novel Kuzurma aims to inspire young adults, and new adults, to look at the world in a new way.
- I will help the less fortuned through volunteer work. Right now I am working for the Stichting Melania to give women in Latin-America the chance to bring their dreams to fruition and to feed their children.
- I will try to continue developing myself, to work on my blind spots and to become a better human being.
My journey is far from over and I do not have all things figured out, but I do have the feeling that I am on the right path. My restlessness from before stimulated simultaneously an inquiry into my own soul and a journey through the outside world. It was necessary to connect and to realize, to ‘taste’ and to see, and with that I collected enough baggage to bring me to this clear mission. I am happy helping other smart and ambitious global souls to fill their gap and rebuild their identity so they can do what they are supposed to do. Being self employed gives me the freedom to spend time with my kids when needed, to write, to study and to save time for voluntary work. I am happy to say I found a pretty good balance again.
Although I must admit that I keep dreaming about a next destination …
Too many expat partners are stuck and misunderstood. This is particularly sad because they have the background, life experience and position to make a difference in this world.
I understand what it is like to grow up in different countries, to study abroad, to work in an international department, to worry about your own kids struggling in a different culture, to be the trailing spouse and feel robbed of your identity … I know how important it is to recognize an often-invisible world, to understand your own story and to process unresolved grieve in order to live your life at it’s fullest potential.
Both my experience and education qualify me to be a good expat coach: My academic background in intercultural management gives me insight in cultural dimensions of the different countries/cultures and therefore from the problems that can arise (macro level) while my education in coaching and psychology provides me the insights at the cognitive and social level (micro level).
Above all: I love to help. We need to work together to make a better world. Let me help you so you can inspire or help someone else!
‘4 PM: mandatory sleeptime (’siesta’) in the kindergarten. It is dusk in the classroom and it stinks a little. I’ve been lying with my head on the wooden tabletop for at least half an hour. My neck is stiff and I’m far too hot. Secretly I look through the slits of my eyes to the woman who keeps watch. I don’t want her to notice that I’m not asleep because then she will get angry again. All the other toddlers sleep but I seldom succeed. Usually I pack my pockets with pieces of French bread so that I have something to do during the siesta. But all the pieces of bread are already finished and I’m bored out of my mind. I want to go out to play, to run. I really don’t understand why I have to sleep. I’m trapped here while there is a world outside waiting to be discovered… “
A first memory is often illustrative for a lifetime. My boredom at the nursery is a harbinger of the disquiet and curiosity that I will experience later in life. So before I turn forty I have already moved residence ten times, changed work environment regularly (IT, Finance, Judiciary, nonprofit and now self-employed), changed profession several times (Product Management, Advisor Communications & Research, Program Manager, Coach/Counselor, Writer), and I have an insatiable thirst for knowledge ( Strategy, International Management & Culture, Research, Communications, Coaching, Psychology). In between I went twice on a sabbatical traveling around the world, wrote an idealistic novel, worked as a volunteer Child Advocate for the protection of abused and neglected children and for a development NGO. Oh, and I also have three children. I managed to keep boredom out the door!
Some find me restless. Others versatile. Probably both are true. Anyway, I completely meet the image of an Adult Third Culture Kid: moves often, changes career, a value system that is different from most peers and a great love for traveling. For a long time I questioned how I could integrate all these experiences and put them to use. I have managed this by founding Inspired Minds. I take great pleasure in guiding other global souls and I have many plans for the future. I hope to keep developing for a long time to come and to contribute to a better world in my own way.
Everyone creates their own reality. Together we create the reality of the future on our earth. Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value
Open University Netherlands (2012-2015): Cultural Psychology, Social Psychology, Adolescent Psychology, Developmental Psychology
Academic Counseling & Coaching (2007-2010): basic year I, specialization year II, year on pediatric counseling III
Erasmus University of Rotterdam (2007-2008): Policy Research
University of Murcia (1993-1994), International Busines
University of Groningen (RUG, 1989-1993), MSc Economics: International Management, Strategy, Intercultural Management, Culture of Latin America, Japanology
Jung Institute Houston (2011): The Wings of Creative Parenting
Workshops and courses (2002- 2013): Online Coaching, Systemic Work, Focussing, Transactional Analysis, Psychosynthesis, Corporate Communications, Writing, Project Management, Cultural Trainings (several countries), Child Advocate Training Program (pre-law, cultural diversity, communications, abuse, child development)