Today, I want to share some insights about myself—about the paths I have walked and the processes I have experienced.

My life took a dramatic turn just over three years ago when I boarded a plane to Bonaire with my partner, our dog, and several suitcases. A container carrying the rest of our belongings was already on its way. We had sold everything in the Netherlands: two businesses, a commercial property, a house, and a chalet in the woods.

We chose Bonaire for its climate, the allure of its azure waters, the rugged nature, and the sense of space and tranquility it offered. Being a part of the Netherlands, we thought, would make things easier since we at least spoke the language.

We had been working too long, too much, and too hard. Our lives had revolved around running two different companies and constantly striving to keep them afloat through good times and bad. The burden of regulation had grown, consuming more time and money to stay visible in a competitive landscape, with government-imposed rules and regulations that always required extensive administration and invariably cost money.

I had left teaching because I felt it focused less on children and quality education than I had hoped, and I did not want to spend my time documenting things that maybe the inspectorate would someday examine. I wanted to spend that time with children—that was my profession, my passion.

Continuing as an entrepreneur, I was able to choose my own path, but the death of my niece made me realize that we only have one life and we never know when it will end.

She was 26 and had been struck down by an aggressive form of cancer. A young, strong woman full of ambition, who hoped to one day become a mother, had many plans for the future, but her life ended far too soon.

Living in Bonaire is not as idyllic as it seems. The Bonaire I know is, alongside being a beautiful island (if you like it raw and unspoiled), chaotic, arbitrary, and opaque. For someone who thrives on a certain structure, the island often poses a challenge. A lot has to come from within you here, or nothing happens at all.

And that is quite enlightening.

When what was always there is no longer there, when you are away from an environment where people expect things from you and/or you survive by adapting, you come to ask yourself, “What do I want?”

Not just for yourself, but also in terms of what you want to mean for others.

Looking at myself, the answer is: I want to make a difference, I want to touch and inspire people and children, help them find their voice to start expressing their needs, what they require to grow.

The puppet is my tool, not an end in itself.

My path is one where I continuously break away from what is expected of me, from what ‘people’ say, and what is imposed on me.

I am like the Fool in the Tarot deck:

You have no idea what awaits you—there are no signposts. All you can follow is your heart. You know: nothing ventured, nothing gained… Trust is required of you. Can you embark on this journey carefree and with an open mind? Do you dare to take the plunge, even if your heart is pounding? What holds you back? How can you make friends with any potential bears on your road?

The Fool is not prepared for every situation, yet she sets out. A world of opportunities and possibilities awaits you. If you fall? No worries, just get up again?

The puppet is always my tool, never a goal in itself. The goal is to better understand others and playfully impart what I have learned in life that is worth sharing. The goal is to help others adopt a resilient attitude towards life.

What is your goal? What do you want to pass on? Let me know.

Till the next blog.

Author

Helen Meurs (helenmeurs.com) is a pioneer in the field of Puppet Power, an independent trainer and developer. She offers online courses, is the lead instructor at the vocational training for puppet coaches, and authored the book ‘The Hand Puppet as a Educational Tool’. Subscribe to her newsletter if you want to know more.

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