A day like no other

This is a letter to my creativity coach Sara 
Before our call I always give her a headsup.

Dear Sara,

I know it’s still one week before our call, a week where I hope to regain my strength and the absolute joy and the high I have been on for two months, minimum.
So then why write you now, one might wonder.
Why not wait until Wednesday or Thursday, and have the starting point of our conversation at a point with the bar higher and the mood brighter?

Because I think something important is at play.
Something as important as that time I went in to get vaccinated.

It was my personal choice, in order to not make it a topic of discussion.
If it was possible to get passively aggressively vaccinated, then that’s what I did. It was the ultimate: “Well, let’s not give you the easy target of making that an object of discussion.”
And to a lesser extent: Taking one for the team, because we live in a society, and when in Rome – etcetera.

I went in and while most public responses to it were praise of how well it was organized, all I thought was:
Oh.
My.
God.

Let me rephrase:
Oh.
My.
FUCKIN’.
God.

I felt an ungrateful and overly sensitive citizen, yes.
But nonetheless: OMFG.

All I could see were rude bouncers, ill organization, and contagion wise unsafe situations with regard to holding social distances, indoor waiting time, questionable ventilation, and mandatory 15 minutes waiting time in that unsafe space, after the vaccination.

I did not praise the efficiency and instead thought the impersonal treatment, the windowless building or the tent straight from wartimes, and us being herded like cattle called for associations so horrendous that I thought about quitting all my artistic expression and all effort to contribute something to this world or make something out of my life.

Because if these vaccination locations were actually praised, and no one found them horrible;
Then what I said didn’t matter.
I, didn’t matter.

If a windowless building where parents and their teen children were separated, without hearing why, was enough – no, it was GOOD?
Then I had nothing.
Then I was bonafide done trying to contribute anything, ever.

That was the “me in the pandemic” story, that I ve told in different ways over the past two years.

But now I got a similar response to my own birthday, but the setup was of course entirely different!
You don’t celebrate your birthday because you re taking one for the team, because it’s expected, or because it makes communication easier.

And although initially, I did it because people around me started asking and making suggestions;
Ultimately, when I sent that email invite?
Man, it rocked!

It was a hundred percent personal, and it was a birthday celebration I looked forward to. 

Now between sending that invite and the birthday, a lot happened of course.
There were the problems I told you about, that made me cancel our last call.
Not reschedule.
Not ask: “Can you squeeze me in next week?”
No: Cancel. And then you followed up with some great emails, so I ended up getting coaching after all, but my initial plan was simply to cancel and cut my losses.
In the light of events, that money was not among the main things to worry about. In fact: I was so in distress I would not even feel the financial loss of one coaching session.
All I knew was that I didn’t want to lose you.
And that I was in such a bad mental place, I didn’t want to put myself in front of you, being such a mess.

So naturally those, here unnamed, events left their mark. At the time I even considered cancelling my birthday celebrations.
But after making peace with the fact that it was just going to be a toned down one, a not-letting-this-moment-drop one, and that it didn’t have to be perfect, since it was obviously never going to be perfect anymore, I got it back on track, and decided to continue as planned.

To hold the course of having a birthday party.

So there was that.
I know.
But that did not explain for what happened.
Something I can only describe as an experience that mimicked the vaccination tent one, as different as the situations obviously are.

Because I am feeling so disempowered by the interaction surrounding my birthday. Not all of course – but everybody matters equally.
I picked up a distinct Single Ride To Pension vibe.

As if the only thing I had achieved was my age, and I was never going to achieve anything.
And realizing that: They could be right. 
Which means I need to hurry as fuck to make even the slightest bit of the time that’s left of me count, now that even people who know me are starting to lose faith.
But also:
That to many, maybe even to most, even when I have achieved more, they may not understand.

That after a year of hardly writing anything here as LS Harteveld, to focus on working under my real name; My impact is zero.
Not just in terms of people not understanding what I HAVE done, but also in me still being in the dark about so many godforsaken things.

To then have this reminder that the people you love, and your next of kin, will in all probability NEVER see you in your power;
NEVER acknowledge your work;
NEVER understand who you were and will only remember you as the woman who once turned a certain age, and maybe died after a long life or died after a short one.

That, is disheartening.

Which is why I have decided to start writing everyday for LS Harteveld, and have another look at how I want to divide my time and resources.
If I really want to put all my eggs in one basket under my real name, and choose creative work that gives me an identity to the real world and to the people who are close to me.
Something they can relate to.

Or if I take all those sweet baby eggs back over here;
To LS Harteveld.
Where they motherfuckin’ belong.

.
~Lauren
An unexamined life is not worth living

Subscribe to this blog for my letters to Sara, and my 1997 diary.
The subscription button is on this page, most likely on the top right.

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My diaries are available at LULU 
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The best way to receive updates on when these books are ready,
is to subscribe to this blog.
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Nederlands blog:
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The Shortest Mail

This is a letter to my creativity coach Sara 
Before our call I always give her a headsup.

Dear Sara,

Today was a bad day.

Where I have been in my zone of genius  for weeks, uncovering layer after layer of my purpose work, yet it has become clear to me that I have been working two jobs:
The one of doing my purpose work, and dealing with the financial insecure future that it brings.
And the one of managing the emotions of others.

In my love life, I have known for a while, that my demands are high with regard to a lover’s emotional self-regulation, to his ability to let go of the outcome, and to be with me in a potentially never ending dance.
And that I will never blame a man for choosing another over me, a woman who does help him and invest in the relationship in a more traditional way.
I would do the same thing if I were him.

But I am clear that I will never be that woman.
I demand of you, that you are your best and highest self, and will block access if you are looking for someone to blame, or play some other totally understandable yet totally unacceptable “game”.
And not even because I am worth more, but because we, are.

I cannot allow you to shit where we eat.
If you act out, it is my responsibility to keep the relationship safe. Just like it would be his responsibility to keep it safe when I act out.
To protect it from the damage from one of us touching it, with the wrong vibe, the wrong energy.

However, and I should have known this since 2019 when I ended two friendships, I have never had that standard in my friendships or with family.
Nor anything that came close to that dynamic, although I have become more mindful.
The past few months this has been causing problems, I have not told you about, but they could have been prevented, if I had just refused to show up even just energetically;
When someone was not being tuned in with their highest self, and could therefor also not see my highest self, or highest work.

I have absolutely been lazy, in the sense that if the mood was not one of highest of vibes on TWO sides, mine included, I have let that moment continue.

I have not been as dedicated to attend to the right vibes of these more low-profile relationships.
Relationships where safety, and being yourself, and being there for each other, go without saying.
I have let myself go.
I ve gotten better but I have talked with friends and family about my work, and also shared my enthusiasm for what I do! 
Only to have their worries come back.

Today was a very tough day, where both parties will have a lot of work to do, getting ourselves in check;
We need to stop showing up, unless we can hold the vision of both our highest self as well as the highest, most capable, vision we have of the other.
We must cancel, if we fail at either one.
And if one of us shows up, in a state of worry, the other one needs walk away or find another way to guard themselves and the relationship.
To stop that negativity from spreading.

And in my case, I need to never talk to people about my work and in particular about money, ever, and I mean ever, again.
Because it only results in bumping into their stress about money.
Just like I must stop talking to them about my relationship style with my lover (which will be the only style ever available) because people are so afraid of being cheated on, and are worried for me, that I get hurt. I never get across the excitement, of finally knowing what I want.

But it sucks letting go of the three areas where you know you have the best ideas and it is your most unique work (ideas on sexual relationships, ideas on money, and doing business).
To not be able to fucking share that with the people close to you.

That hurts.

And yet at the same time?
I would never talk about money or business with my lover, so apparently my best relationship can go without!!

If I want all my relationships to become as pure and high-value as the one I have with him (when we’re together, which is never certain, as is always the case in never ending dances!).
I must wall off, my work life.

Finance and career need to be cut from the conversation, for now and evermore, and in return I will show up with the same dedication to the moment, that I have when I am with my lover.

But it also means that bar one friend, who is also an entrepreneur which is no coincidence at all – bar her;
I will be alone in this.

And that is as sad as it is empowering.
And looking back;
Inevitable.

.
~Lauren
An unexamined life is not worth living

Subscribe to this blog for my letters to Sara, and my 1997 diary.
The subscription button is on this page, most likely on the top right.

Books 

My diaries are available at LULU 
New books will be added.

The best way to receive updates on when these books are ready,
is to subscribe to this blog.
Button on this page, probably on the top right.

Or follow my Facebook page
/ Twitter: @LSHarteveld

Nederlands blog:
https://zegmaarlauren.com/

 

 
 
 

 

In Bed With Lauren

Madonna 1990

This is a letter to my creativity coach Sara 
Before our call I always give her a headsup.

Dear Sara,

I title this letter “In Bed With Lauren”, because I believe having the best sex of your life, should count as a pretty solid indicator of success.
In particular when you once created an alterego, “Lauren Harteveld”, with the sole purpose of being able to explore and develop your sexuality and to write freely about it.
Without anyone being allowed to bother you with whatever unsettling, stunning or arousing it was you wrote because if you wanted to explain yourself, you would have written about it under your real name.

If you have been protecting the personal and artistic space of your alterego Lauren Harteveld, for over 15 years;
If you have been validating her mission, to create the sex life of her dreams, if you have been validating that over anything you could possibly do under your real name.
And you have kept your professional self alive as a decoy, as a front, a diversion of who you really were (you made people believe you were the person who had your real name), so that you could dedicate every minute off to being Lauren Harteveld, to being the part of yourself most people didn’t know;

In that case, having the best sex of your life, and not having written anything as Lauren Harteveld because you were totally absorbed in the work under your real name;
That, is huge.

I m not going to get into the specifics of the work I m doing under my real name, because what difference does it make?
Our work together has always been about me desiring deeply, to be able to be creative, and have a profession I actually liked.
And I have that now.

I m an artist, would be the shortest way to explain it.
And it comes with the money challenges of being an artist, since I do not want to have a service provider “front”, do not want to offer something tangible for sale since my art is mostly immaterial;
But an artist none the less.

And an incredibly, over-the-moon, beyond-belief, happy one.

Every day I get up, and I spend up to ten hours behind my desk.
Social life, leisure time; I gladly sacrifice it all, to keep up with the work that is structured. It has a daily rhythm.
But also, to keep up with this work that more than anything else, just flows out of me.

I know my work so intimately, that I know exactly what needs to be done. I do not have any to-do lists, because I do not need them.
I work day after day after day, and when I do other things that inspire me, that nurture me, such as the sex, then I am completely IN IT, as well.
And it just flows as natural as my work does.

In June and July, and maybe August but I hope to have made some progress by then, I m taking the time to really let this artistic flow ingrain.
Learning to understand what my work is about, and how I can make it as efficient as possible. 
Not just so that I can free up time, to work for an hourly pay; But also because this is not even half of what I ultimately want to do.
I haven’t made any YouTube videos, although the three weeks of solid work have brought clarity of what it is I m going to do, so that’s great.
I also haven’t written even a word as Lauren Harteveld, which is such a shame. I like being Lauren, I like writing here, as her. 
I ve also not written my pen pal Nikki nor my other friend, whom I also feel is a friend of Lauren.
And not so much a friend associated with me under my real name.
I ve also done nothing for the book I ve written as Lauren 1994-1996, nor wrote for her current diary (Lauren 1997).

Even if I manage to stay an artist, and do not get a job; I want all that work, all those other aspects of myself, to fit in there.
Ultimately, I don’t want to be just a writer under my real name, as has been my dominant art form the past three weeks.
Regardless of how great these past three weeks have been.

So the first time I really understood how well I was doing, was when pretty much out of the blue, I had the best sex of my life.
Sure I can pinpoint what he did, and what I did, in advance, to set it up right. We’re both “good at sex”, we know that. And then if we both have a good day, and even more importantly, both are mentally in a good state of mind and take the time to really play out the date (no rush);
Of course there are new heights to be reached.

But it seemed like there was more.

The sex was so out-of-this-world good, we were so insatiable, and physically we could do things which rarely, if ever, go by unpunished!
It was pure magic.
It was something you would want to think about and analyze, so you’d be able to recreate it a next time.

Except of course, I didn’t.
Because I had my work waiting and that made me so happy, I didn’t do anything with all those great memories.
Not even write Nikki, and I ALWAYS write Nikki soon afterwards.

If you would ask me now: 
“Lauren, what was the reason you had the best sex ever? How did you get there?”
I would answer:
“I loved doing what I was doing as an artist so much, that the sex just came with it. It was a natural expansion of the state of pure bliss, I have been in for weeks now.”

I have never been happier in my life.
And yet when I think of all those things I still want:
– writing as Lauren
– making YouTube videos
– doing yoga
– writing Nikki
– writing the other friend
– and I want to clear out and reinvent my whole apartment in the upcoming month. Two events have caused me to store things in my apartment that do not belong here, and it no longer feels like mine.

When I think of all those things, I really have no idea where to put them. No idea where they fit in. And it stresses me out, because I can see where I can stretch things a bit;
But this is going to require a lot more space than that.

As opposed to my sex life, I have no idea how to make all that go in smoothly.
And unpunished.

.
~Lauren
An unexamined life is not worth living

Subscribe to this blog for my letters to Sara, and my 1997 diary.
The subscription button is on this page, most likely on the top right.

Books 

My diaries are available at LULU 
New books will be added.

The best way to receive updates on when these books are ready,
is to subscribe to this blog.
Button on this page, probably on the top right.

Or follow my Facebook page
/ Twitter: @LSHarteveld

Nederlands blog:
https://zegmaarlauren.com/

 

 
 
 

 

Blond Ambition

This is a letter to my creativity coach Sara 
Before our call I always give her a headsup.

Dear Sara,

I started writing this letter yesterday, and it seems like a lifetime ago. The Netherlands celebrates two days of Pentecost, the descent of the holy spirit onto the people, and maybe that counts for a sleepless night from Sunday to Monday.
I fell asleep at 6.15 AM and slept until 10.15, in a life that felt totally different than it had yesterday.

And yesterday’s draft of this blogpost totally irrelevant.
Or at least dramatically incomplete.

I think I needed the Fuck-that-shit! draft, where I concluded I was going to work as an online creative but;
Not talk about it.
Not explain it.
Not show up for any conversation.
Not set aside any resources, let alone on an ongoing basis, to figure out how to manage comments, mentions, correspondence or requests.
Instead from now on I was giving myself permission to not read any of it.

Not having to show up for any conversation, and that included not engaging with any man wanting to romantically obsess over me, was the big fat perk of having given myself full creative freedom, over being a business.

And from this position of being a writer, content creator, and artist -and definitely sticking to my guns that this time around my income was going to be generated by my work and not through a personal relationship with me, under cover of my work -this meant that my only justified involvements were:
A. With people who inspired me and my work! 
And avoid situations that drained me of my sexual or creative power, threatened my autonomy, or objectified me because I was a woman and that was the only part of me they could relate to.
And
B. With clear cut business proposals
Along the line of:
“Can you do this and this for us/ me? And how much do you charge for that?” 

After years of stripping away all the things that had once made me a “neatly fitting into a box” professional, I had come dangerously close to loading the shit sandwich of micromanaging unwanted attention, yet again.
It would have limited and tied me down in the same way my proper-professional business once had.

Saying “No” in acceptable ways that worked around egos and financial budgets, that did not setoff bullies and that were clearly understood and respected by potential stalkers, had not worked for the past 20 years, and it sure as hell was not going to suddenly work because I was now no longer an official business.

In my 20 year plus understanding of how unsafe you are as a woman service provider or a woman that is being visible online, I had been on the frickin’ verge of making it my (or an assistant’s) job to keep my side of the conversation professional, and also to keep an eye on the trolls. 

A blogpost even longer than the paragraphs I just typed, explained that was not going to happen.
I was going to ignore them instead and never waste another minute trying to find the right way to deal with them.

Women had lost enough momentum being sexualized as it was. We would have been better off if we had charged for just being in the same room as us, instead of getting entangled in delivering anything according to any professional standards, since that was obviously not what we were hired for in the first fucking place.

After no longer being in business, I finally understood that unless connections give you inspiration, energy, money, or all of the above? 
You should not give it even an iota of your presence, nor care, nor attention.

I had slayed the whole stalker, bullying, pretend-customer and obsessive follower monster, and was excited I had finally learned my lesson.
But, as it turned out after one night of having the holy spirit descend upon me, that turned out to be only half of the message.

It is difficult to say what sparked it exactly.
Maybe it was one flawless week of content creation and living my dream life as an artist.
Maybe it was realizing I didn’t like sex the way I used to, because this body  didn’t feel like mine anymore.
Maybe it was the passing of Alec John Such, the OG bass player of Bon Jovi who left the band after the Keep The Faith album.
Exactly the last album that I considered “my” Bon Jovi. After that I dropped out of fandom for 25 years.

He was only 70 years old, and maybe it added the gasoline of mortality to my already burning fire of having created this new creative life.
And in the blazing flames I saw what would happen if I would only do that creative work; The writing, the creating, the teaching, the working.
I would perish.

That I had a different thing to create, before anything else could be created.
Me.
Maybe “create” meant recreate: To bring my body back to the toned yet feminine body I had until a few years back really…. It went away so quickly.
Or maybe “create” meant, to finally create Madonna’s Blond Ambition body.

1990 Was the year I started fitness and it was her body I had in mind back then.
At the time, I only considered myself to be moderately successful at sculpting myself as her mirror image, but that was probably more because I never felt I had given it my absolute all. 
To this day, I feel her 1990s body was my aspirational, and achievable, ideal.

And when I realized that present day, I would rather miss out on:
-earning a fortune
-on being an artist, writer, creative
-on have my lover, or a lover, in my life
Than missing out on having my old body back, and on the possibility of getting in an even better shape than I had been my entire life;
That moment of clarity, changed everything.

I don’t regret having said in the past that I was going all in on my new business, I don’t regret having made my peace with my voluptuous body as it is, but it was impermanent.

No career, no art, no money or no lovers in the world, can ever make up this feeling of deep sadness that I have lost Me, somewhere along the line.
That in my quest to find myself creatively and sexually, and having been successful at that too, but by Gods!  
At what price?
My quest, just like Frodo’s quest coming home from Mordor after having saved the world, has come at the cost of losing myself.

And like Frodo knew he could no longer be happy in the Shire,
I now finally understand that I cannot exist in this body I now have.
That maybe even, to an extend, my Life, all those things I wanted and found out, cannot exist in this body I now have.

A body I love dearly, but it has suffered greatly, in my persuasion to figure things out in the real world. Grownup things, important things. Things I do not want to not have figured out, if I would die at 70.

But I need my body back.
I need me, back.

And not a good enough for my age version, either.

I want my body to be a mirror image to Madonna’s 1990 body.

Like I always meant to.

.
~Lauren
An unexamined life is not worth living

Subscribe to this blog for my letters to Sara, and my 1997 diary.
The subscription button is on this page, most likely on the top right.

Books 

My diaries are available at LULU 
New books will be added.

The best way to receive updates on when these books are ready,
is to subscribe to this blog.
Button on this page, probably on the top right.

Or follow my Facebook page
/ Twitter: @LSHarteveld

Nederlands blog:
https://zegmaarlauren.com/

 

 
 
 

 

How to build a business as a woman without getting killed

Madonna 1983. I originally included a photo from Rhythm 0 but I changed it for various reasons.

 

This is a letter to my creativity coach Sara 
Before our call I always give her a headsup.

“Abramović placed on a table 72 objects that people were allowed to use in any way that they chose; a sign informed them that they held no responsibility for any of their actions.
[…]

This tested how vulnerable and aggressive human subjects could be when actions have no social consequences.”

Wikipedia on “Rhythm 0”, 1974, by Marina Abramovic

Dear Sara,

This letter was originally meant to be privately  by email, just like my previous one. Something I don’t think I ve done since our first emails in 2018, when I wasn’t turning my letters to you, into a blog post.

But desperate times call for desperate measures, and keeping my last letter to you off the grid, was one of them.
Although I do think only a fellow blogger will understand how it feels to not use what could very well be one of your best blogposts. The rawness and realness give it an aura of urgency that isn’t present when things are just eloquently rising and falling, within the most civil of boundaries.

The works of art you don’t want to make public, and the ideas that you don’t want to execute, are without exception the ones that you definitely should be sharing with the world. I learned that from Marina Abramović.
Which reminds me of a performance of her, Rhythm 0 (1974), that is very relevant to this post. Where she stands next to a table, with objects that can inflict pleasure or pain, and allows the audience to use them.

Revealing of course the monstrosity of Man.

After 6 hours the performance ended and no one dared to look her in the eye. They had been able to rationalize their behavior by objectifying her, and couldn’t handle her becoming “human” again.
Marina returned to her hotel alone, and with her first string of grey hair.
She has been dyeing it ever since.

Since our last, off-the-grid call, my fear of being objectified on the job, in therefor in danger, has hit me hard. And really for the first time ever.
I can see how much it has influenced my inability to grow as a yoga business and ultimately made me give up.

I had been well aware there had been something about having real life yoga classes that was just so absolutely impossible to move forward, at least by me.
I was aware of the heaviness of it. The obligations, the demands, the investments.

But until this week I thought they were all administrative, or financial. That with the right knowledge of how to run a business, knowledge I have since developed, I would have been to do it.

That it had been the government-regulated nature of  having a/any real life business, combined with a market that in ten years time had acquired many new yoga teachers with a four month diploma or even 4 week ones, instead of a 4 year one;
That it had been those things, combined with hysterical real estate prices and energy markets that had made successfully exploiting a commercial property, heated to a comfortable 22 degrees Celcius, an impossible task.   

And I m not saying I was wrong.
Just that I had overlooked one major issue, that I have not thought of for absolutely years and years…
Which is: How to do business as a woman without getting killed.

I knew the hesitance I had as a local yoga teacher to really start playing big and become visible in the media, didn’t have anything to do with feeling I wasn’t good enough, or because I believed yoga teachers were supposed to be modest and not blow their own horn.
And now I know it was something far more primal; 
The reason I stopped having a healthy yoga studio because the classes stopped growing and eventually declined, was not because I didn’t know how to get it back up.

But because I was afraid it would get me killed.

As a woman and as a girl, I have always felt that men fell in love with me and that for a considerable portion of them, it was intolerable that I would not feel the same way.
That the feelings I had stirred up by talking to them, by writing with them, by working in a place they could see me (I will get back to why this doesn’t say “working with them”) and ultimately the emotions they felt because I was a yoga teacher, had to be answered by me, or bypassed in a way that still made them feel good about themselves.
Either way, somehow, I had to take responsibility for the mental strain my female presence caused them, and make it all alright.

There is so much to “unpack here”, as you would say it! 
But as far as memories of the past go, I will  stick to two things:
How I dealt with it in my business, at the time.
And how this fear of men has influenced my dating life. 

So looking back at my career in yoga, I can say that I was never really able to deal with it, in a structured fashion.
Ideally, I longed for a protocol in place. Some guidelines that I would be able to follow, that would prevent men who I considered a liability, from coming to my classes.
But I never got my head around that one, so it stayed messy and ad hoc.
I managed, and I do think that understanding that they could not be in my classes made it easier for me, than if I would not have had that so clear.
But it was uncomfortable for all parties, regardless of how neutral, private, and early I communicated it.

I absolutely never said: “You re in love with me, and need to go.”
Not just because it would have been extremely hurtful, but also because I think that was beside the point.
The problem was never that someone was in love with me.
But that they were unable to handle some, any, all feelings I was stirring up. And yes I think that is usually interpreted as being in love but it could be so much broader and wider than that.
I m the first to admit that if you have any issues with anything from your past, I ll probably trigger them!

So the problem was that whatever it was, they were desperate to, and I use that word in the most empathic way possible because I did feel their pain, but they really longed for a connection to ease their pain.
And that’s why I couldn’t teach them.
And messy or not, at the ideal moment or too late; Ultimately, I never taught them.

By the time I ended my business my groups were stable and my students were an absolute great bunch of people!
And fifty/fifty, many of them were men.
So yeah, it was sad that I didn’t know how to make that business grow. But it was because I knew that if I would grow my normal, weekly classes yoga business, I would have to go through the whole ordeal of men who start feeling all kinds of things in my presence.
And I still didn’t have a protocol.
And I still didn’t know how to select.
And ultimately, I also think I was growing impatient that I had to put so much energy in it, and worry about this when no male yoga teacher would ever feel he had the same problem. 

Male yoga teachers attract enough attention, but their position is an entirely different one.
And now I know why.
Because contrary to women, they do not associate the opposite sex falling in love with them with danger.

With being just a few steps away from becoming a victim of stalking, threats, abuse and ultimately death.
And women do.

Not just me; We all do.
All women have an understanding they cannot just say No to a man, without risking him turning on her.
Which is why they avoid his hints and non-verbal signs, and only say No when he asks specifically.

This is of course the root of men killing the girls and women that broke up with them, and it relates to the Me Too movement about abuse of power, but the problem lies much deeper;
Women cannot work as a professional, without constantly having to deal with men inappropriately projecting their sexual feelings onto them.
Instead of concentrating on the work, we lose focus delicately coaching our male clients through their emotions.

Maybe that is why I am such a big fan of the escort Avery Moore who charged $1000 an hour (in 2014!) and of coaches who ask similarly high end prices.
Because I believe we women are victim of having to do all that emotional labor for free, and at the risk of being bullied and stalked if we don’t do that work.

But I feel I digress.
Let me get back to how I feel these things go, I was talking about female professionals having to say No, or just in general women having to say No to a man;
It really is a situation we’d all rather avoid!

But we never can, can we?
Avoid it, I mean.
Because these men seem convinced our non-responsiveness is just one great misunderstanding. That as soon as we know how much he is into us, we will succumb.
It is only then, we will say No.

It took me a very long time to understand, what lay at the root of me understanding certain men had to go. And others, regardless of their feelings for me (feelings which are none of my business anyway!), could stay.
And it is so simple, yet a 100% rate of what is okay and what isn’t.

And it is the perfect bridge to my love life as well.

This simple rule is:
Am I free to say No?

When I had students that I felt were not giving me space, not giving me a choice, I felt cornered.
I know they were probably in denial about their own worth, and their own strength, but it translated to robbing us from an equal relationship based on our humanity.

Based on connection.

And instead, and for the fee of one class, I felt all their problems being dumped on my table of professional responsibility, and on top of that came their personal affection for me.
To make it bearable of course.
I get it.
How else would it be okay to do yoga with me, if the interest and therefor the vulnerability is not reciprocal? 

But by the Gods, how on earth could any female professional build a business in the service industry, having to encounter those top heavy sociological complex situations?
You re basically dealing with decades of psychological and sexual neglect, that you are supposed to save them from… 

And this is how it leads into my love life.
That the love life I ultimately settled on, which is being a long-term mistress but also still; as a single!  With no one holding a claim over me, and freedom to go out or have sex with other men, if I would want that;
Is not just because I like the game, and steady relationships are not exciting enough.

It is because being single, being alone, and not having anyone in my personal space, not in my finances, nor in my agenda at fixed times;
Not having anyone who holds me accountable for his emotions;
It is because all of those things, make me feel safe.

Way more than a wildly successful yoga business or a marriage, ever would.

So the past week, what surfaced is a variation of my deep distrust of other people. I know it surfaced in Covid, when I considered the weird, unclear dynamic between people and the inability to articulate exactly what your Covid boundaries were, and instead it was more that a general interest in the other person was required, and a willingness to coach them through their fears and worries, was an impossible dynamic to work with.

It has surfaced and ruined my yoga career where the same unspoken dynamic caused me to not see how I could successfully run a business, without feeling the emotional demand of those who were touched, moved or triggered by my presence. 

And now it is surfacing when setting up my online career, where I am suddenly reminded of how you are treated as a public persona.
That people feel free to project on you all their needs and wishes, and that you (I!) have to find a way to deal with that.

And that for now, the closest thing I have come to understand it, is that if you are a public figure, if you choose to work in the public, the online realm, instead of doing your work in the seclusion of a local brick and mortar business;
Then you (I!) need a whole different set of boundaries.

Now that I am laying the groundwork for my very public, online work;
I am beginning to understand that there is no answer for this.
That what women are dealing with, is a society where the objectification of women is so normalized, that even I have failed to see how it has been holding us back!

And that to a degree, the answer to how to run a business as a woman without getting killed is;
You don’t.
That our entrepreneurial risk, begins with the risk of wanting to give our life for this, and our privacy. And probably even dragging all those threats into the lives of our families and loved ones as well.

Our businesses start under siege, because our autonomy, independence and right to focus on our own lives, is constantly under siege.

The first law of womenhood is that you have to somehow work around the egos of rejected men. And unless you’re Avery Moore, you’re going to do it for free. And unlike a work of art, it will not be limited to 6 hours either.

If I setup my online presence in the wrong way, I am going to end up in an online 24/7 Rhythm 0, where just staying passive, just ignoring it, is probably not going to prevent much.
As the art performance Rhythm 0 already effectively illustrated.
Being passive, only makes it worse.

So this brings me to the only thing I have been able to excavate from this whole fucked up situation, about what it means to be a woman and how I have effectively neutralized the dangers of sexualization and objectification.
Because I have analyzed why I have felt so unsafe being a yoga teacher, and unsafe being visible (with yoga videos) online as well;
Yet I have at the same time, felt absolutely completely safe making videos for a specific “mutual interest” community, that has also been my target audience for years.
And I have also studied with men, I have been in male circles of friends both in high school as well as university;
I have worked WITH men (do you remember? How I excluded that from describing the situation earlier?) in the past and I still work in a team that is dominated by men, and of course I feel completely safe there.
I also have many male friends, I have more male friends than female friends.

So, I knew there was more to the story than just some version of men are impossible, or something.
I ve always known I am not inherently, scared of men.
That it is situation dependent.
But it took me a while to figure out what exactly, that situation was.

Why had I felt safe online speaking to the mutual interest community, but not making yoga videos?
And then I knew!
I saw it!

It is because in order to be objectified, you need to be separate. The reason female professionals are so easily sexualized and objectified, is they are not part of the same group as the man or men.

The whole old boys network thing, glass ceiling thing, is not just holding us back from better pay, it is also keeping us in a position where we can be objectified and no one needs to take responsibility for sexualizing us.

And if we present ourselves as independent professionals, in particular in female dominated service industries such as yoga, but this runs rampant in graphic design, photography, all professions where a client gets the privilege of being in the same room as you, either for you to do your work or to make arrangements and setup the project.
This professional space, that the female independent holds, much like the passivity from Marina, it becomes a space where the man can get feelings for her.

And if you go the other way, and be active, take the lead and be very clear on your arrangement, charge a high fee, and so on, which is definitely the better and the safest of the two, then men falling in love with you will get even worse.
In my experience, the stronger you are meeting new men, and you are NOT part of the same group – the stronger you are, the more they will become obsessed with you.

So even if you’re 100% the professional in charge, you’re still doing double the work of what a man would have to do. 
And at the risk of getting stalked, not paid or badly reviewed on Google, if you fail to settle the manner in the most beautifully pleasant way.

So, they key is, and I ve dropped it a few times already;
To be safe as a female professional, you need to be part of the group.
Not stand above it.

The “communities” marketing had us creating, starting 5 or 10 years ago, and some of them were total hoaxes because how would someone feel part of a supermarket community or something-
but those communities, actually serve a bigger purpose, when you start using them in the right ways.
Which is: By offering your services to already existing communities. 

Where women who present themselves as group leaders, have to juggle trying to galvanize and straighten out all kinds of dynamics, that are a direct result of individuals not naturally having chosen for each other AND the added threat of men falling in love with them;
Existing communities, have none of that.

My group of male friends in high school (6 boys, 2 girls) was the best group of friends I ve had in my life.
At university, it was not as close and our group was less strictly defined, but I was in a group with 5 male friends, and they “energetically protected me”, when other male students would join for dinner or something.

At my current workplace too; I am one of them. It is absolutely 100% safe.

So that’s how I uncovered how to do business as a woman without getting killed. It is great news on one hand; Because it IS possible.
Either by doing fucking heavy lifting of being a professional in charge, and taking the lead. And if I was opting for a brick and mortar business, that would be my approach now.

Or the second option is that you work for existing groups, or work within groups you already belong to, or become part of a group and share more than just the work you were hired to do. 

Or the third option is that you go full objectification and take the celebrity route, and not interact with anyone. That you give up all sense of humanity in your work, and say: “Want to objectify me? Fine! But then you will not have anything from me that matters. I will withhold it from you.”
And as tempting as that one is, I do not believe that is truly my best work.
I don’t desire that kind of distance.
Yet?

So the bad news is, that really, for myself, I have not figured the entire thing out yet. I will definitely work with the niche thing, the group thing, and picking the types of work where I know people will feel loyalty towards each other and avoid the anonymity and objectification and otherness, that makes online bullying so common.

But neither of all of those things are miracle cures.
There is absolutely no way a woman can make building her business a priority in the same outcome driven way, a man can.
Or at least, I couldn’t think of one.

And coming from a place of understanding how important my purpose work is, and how absolutely unsatisfied I am going to be if I die with my life still inside of me;
Coming from that place of utter understanding how important this all is, there is one thing I am not sure of;

If an art work is not 6 hours but a life time;
Is it worth dying for?

.
~Lauren
An unexamined life is not worth living

Subscribe to this blog for my letters to Sara, and my 1997 diary.
The subscription button is on this page, most likely on the top right.

Books 

My diaries are available at LULU 
New books will be added.

The best way to receive updates on when these books are ready,
is to subscribe to this blog.
Button on this page, probably on the top right.

Or follow my Facebook page
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Nederlands blog:
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Passive Aggressive Burn

This is a letter to my creativity coach Sara 
Before our call I always give her a headsup.

Dear Sara,

I m writing you days before our call, in an attempt to at least make some sense of what has happened, and leave it behind me before I start the next week.
My yoga classes used to start on Sundays, which is why I often feel that is when my new week starts, even though I am not a yoga teacher anymore.
Although that is part of the problem I think; Still not having an understanding of what’s next for me.
And every time I think I can commit to the new vision, I end up further behind than I ever was. Even the scent of having suicidal thoughts never seems far away.

Ten days ago, I decided to go all in on practicing yoga, and I gave myself a challenge, including public accountability. It was also the start of having many social events, which would cost me a lot of energy because I m still not grounded in my new profession as a YouTube teacher, writer and performance artist, partially because I only recently found out I would never work as a yoga teacher in real life ever again.

I had discovered that both my short terms plans to start teaching locally, as well as my long-term vision to tour and teach large groups, were both incomplete business models as I like to call them.
Meaning they require a tremendous amount of investment, without any guaranteed outcome, except for a lot of loose ends, new liabilities, and a road paved with shit sandwiches only the most motivated professional (or the most masochistic one) would find acceptable.

Since the last thing I need is more work that does not guaranteed make money, I decided I was going to let it go.
I had a vision for teaching yoga, a big one, but I would stick with the online public part, even if it meant not having any business model.

I think part of why the past 10 days were absolutely horrific professionally, was because I thought I could whip myself into getting on with starting online yoga communities and start building a strong yoga practice, without properly saying goodbye and reconsidering if (after having my dreams shot to pieces) I even wanted anything to do with yoga ever again.

To be honest, I m still not a hundred percent sure.

I THINK I want to continue with the online yoga communities, being part of my business and social life, having a sense of community both for others as well as myself;
But do I really?

Why can I write, blog, daily (if I let myself) and sometimes feel I hate yoga so much.
That there is still that proper yoga teacher-y sticking to it, that I can’t seem to shake, no matter how often I walk away from yoga.
Why do I always come back?

Is it a dysfunctional thing where I am in love with a decades old vision of a practice I once loved?
A me that did NOT write, a me that did NOT spend hours inside her own head, and that actually liked the silence and depth of yoga, when right now I can’t bear myself to show up on the yoga mat.
The accountable yoga challenge I gave myself 10 days ago, fluked 100%

I ve thought about letting the self-practice go completely, and only do yoga as part of teaching it online. If it really is a community thing, then I really do not have to be better than the others.
I should be able to teach it as a member, as someone who needs the comradery and the stretch after a hard day of work, as much as they do.

But then again: Why haven’t I?
Why can I think it, but I don’t film a single yoga video?

Before I finish the story of why I think I completely messed up the last 10 days, let me first share the positive news.
The moments I see flashes of how this new trimmed down version of my yoga career AND self-practice, could absolutely become the best thing since I started writing in 2006, and things taking flight when I became a blogger.

When it turned out that the new medium of blogging, as opposed to years of writing, editing, and finding a real publisher, the slow process of what being a writer had looked like up until then, unleashed within me a productivity that burned away any chance of writer’s block and self-doubt.
When it came to writing, or more specifically when it came to blogging, I was fast, I was relentless, and I was better at it than anybody else.

There are moments where I can see that teaching real life yoga, both locally as well as for bigger tour-like options, are the old world.
That I was never meant to do it that way.

That I am meant to learn to express myself in a yoga video as unapologetically and raw as I have in my writing. That my yoga is meant to be: Record. Post. Share. Repeat! Just like my writing is: Blog. Post. Share. Repeat!
That teaching yoga is my new blogging, and that I am THIS close to getting my head or my fingers around it, and that I will THRIVE!

And then there are moments when I am utterly defeated and think that if it requires so much thinking, it’s tainted by definition.
That if I wanted and desired yoga the way I want and desire writing, it would not be this much work.

That every thought spent on it, is killing its very soul, and that the fact that it has already taken me years to “get” this right, means it is wrong.
That I should burn all yoga books, admit the past 24 years were one big mistake that did not teach me anything, and declare the word yoga forbidden.

Suck it up for one week, delete all yoga channels, domain names, and post a few “Sorry I fucked up” blogs and done!
No more yoga practice, no more yoga communities, and to let the impossibilities, the incomplete business models and the shit sandwiches of teaching real life, be the death verdict of all things yoga.
Even though yoga has been the absolute key element of all my professional expressions under my real name, for the past 3 years.
Kill it and move on.

Okay, that was ranty but I think I got the point across that I m torn between pros and cons.
With on this Saturday night the cons weighing heavier.

But here’s the secret, the reason why I think we should be very careful taking my instinct to destroy my career in yoga seriously:
Because I applied for a job exactly 10 days ago.

It was something I really looked forward to doing! It was very spontaneous, I had not planned on applying for a job at this point.
But I recognize the pattern of wanting to destroy my creative work, in response to having to work in a job.

If I cannot sustain myself, then all activities I have done are useless. In particular because they do make you vulnerable; Doing yoga online, or writing/ blogging.
If you have the choice of working WITH or WITHOUT having all that online stuff out in the world;
Which idiot would choose with?

Not me.

The pattern of wanting to destroy the real work, the creative work, the part that I will look back on on my deathbed and understand that I did what I came here to do;
It’s such a familiar pattern that I want to burn it, when I am at the point of accepting a job.

And it’s also such a familiar pattern that I lose connection with who I am, if I have social events where I attend without having a profession that is “something”.
Like the 10 days I just wrapped up.

It was the perfect storm, and I tried to counteract by setting myself a yoga goal, a challenge to do yoga every day.
I think in an attempt to ground myself, and to feel good about at least one thing I had done every day.

But I didn’t.

I did for 2 days, and then my body was in such deep pain, that I was happy I could still walk.
It still is, even though I haven’t done yoga for 8 days now.

The yoga challenge I had set for myself backfired and made me feel even worse. Because now I had failed at that too.
I didn’t have a catchy profession, I would soon start a job because whatever it is I did was not making me money, I had wasted 24 years on something called yoga.

In ten days the thought of the job turned from something that would support me, and that would give me connection and a sense belonging, into a symbol of what a mess my life was. A symbol of utter failure as a yoga teacher, as a writer, as an independent, but mostly, as a human.

I ve done the ten days of social events, and I ve tried to get excited by the idea of teaching yoga and building my online yoga brand, next to my regular job.
But it s not working.
And the thing that would keep me in touch with my new yoga career, the yoga challenge, didn’t go beyond the first two days.
But do these two setbacks really explain why I think my whole life feels like one big mess and I want to die?

The only thing I am good at is writing. Correction: blogging.

And I used to like doing yoga, but that’s 15 years behind me or more.
Is that valid?

I used to like teaching groups, but I no longer have a studio and bla bla incomplete business models, I m not going down that road again.

The big vision I had to change yoga, teach large venues, revolutionize yoga; It is no longer my vision. Someone else can go do that.

There are moments when I see myself as the new Yoga with Adriene: Someone whose language is in yoga, in her body. And who communicates through teaching yoga.
This is the vision I ve had so often; Dreams even! 
“Yoga is my art”
There have been times when I was absolutely certain I was ready to move from being an isolated writer, to the connection of teaching yoga. Forever.

And then?
There are moments I think it is time to ban yoga forever and start all over again. 
As a writer.

And this Saturday night is one of those.

.
~Lauren
An unexamined life is not worth living

Subscribe to this blog for my letters to Sara, and my 1997 diary.
The subscription button is on this page, most likely on the top right.

Books 

My diaries are available at LULU 
New books will be added.

The best way to receive updates on when these books are ready,
is to subscribe to this blog.
Button on this page, probably on the top right.

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/ Twitter: @LSHarteveld

Nederlands blog:
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The Resurrection Of LS Harteveld

Madonna October 1982 by Peter Cunningham, source  https://www.rockarchive.com/prints/m/madonna-mn009pcun

This is a letter to my creativity coach Sara
Before our call I always give her a headsup.

Dear Sara,

I m right where I ve been so many times in recent years. The place where I recognize snippets, revelations, decisions, understandings and choices I made a dozen times before and apparently didn’t stick to, most likely because I didn’t understand WHY they were the right one.

The past two weeks have been extremely rocky.
And it is easy to say that was because of professional choices, but it wasn’t. It was because of my sex and love life.
I ve said it many times over: 
“Remind me (when things are rough) that it’s always about a man. And if it’s not about a man, then it’s also about a man.”

That is the first part of the truth; There is no such thing as me being invested in work, career or even money.
It is (by principle) all a front, a hoax, a thing I use as the next best thing to control, when my love life is once again taking a toll on me.

When I am recovering from sexual and relational adventures, then aiming for success in business, fame as a professional and fortune in my bank account, seem viable ways to distract myself, attractive alternatives to deal with reality.
Because it gives you something to do, a direction to take, when in reality;
It is about a man, generally speaking, or it is about art and doing what I love, as sort of a spin off to that. 

I once again tried to use my talents to build a future and business, only to burn it ALL DOWN.

Yet, of course my actual, healthy, only-realistic business model, as far as you can call it such, should be what we’ve settled on a million times before!
I create what I create.
I share it.
And if you want to you can pay me.
These alterego LS Harteveld accounts are not suitable for that, and I have more reasons to not let myself be paid here. But for my real/ professional name, that is what it comes down to.

I need the freedom to be like a street artist, and choose my spot to play every day, and even skip days or weeks when I want to.
I m not going to monetize, package up, offer ANY of my skills in programs, services, gigs;
I will only be an online content creator.

But I didn’t know that yet, and fueled by the control I do not have in my love life, I researched and tried out three business models;
Two were real world ones, one (the most profitable one of course) was an online one.

Yet, I felt so clearly how the real world ones, take away your freedom!
The commitments, legal issues, getting VAT registered, opening a business account to allow for debit card payments on your phone, get liability insurance;
The absolute never ending drain on your time and energy for all sorts of things – all time that could have been spent creating something – b
efore you can do your work, or earn one euro.
I honestly think that if you’d be realistic you would have to conclude it no longer pays to do business in the real world unless you trade raw materials or something.

But my business model for the online world had problems of its own.
Although it did not have the professional restrictions of working locally, here “work” meant more solitary computer hours, when I absolutely do not want to spend more hours alone and at my desk.
All my creative activities are already at my desk, as is all the studying I like to do for those projects and special interests.

And next to that, being visible online as a business owner, means you’re not just selling your current hours behind your desk but future ones as well; 
Because almost everything digital you sell, is a maintenance and customer service obligation for your future self.
In a more abstract way too, building an online community or an online client base, related to the term “know-like-and trust”-factor, means you are  capitalizing on your future online availability.
If you do it well, meaning your clients become people who love hearing from you, you are implicitly promising them your future self.

My current self and my future self, are not interested in all the liabilities and restrictions of working in the real world;
They also have way too much creative, soul-aligned computer work, to put in extra desk hours to make money.

And they both, current self and future self, want to be free and do not want to sell their time nor presence.

So for maybe the first time in my life, I stopped looking for ways to monetize my skills, my talents, I quit it all.

I make what I want to make, online, all things I love, and usually directly inspired by my actual love life. 
And I m going to accept Life has not left me time, nor the talent and definitely not the patience, to monetize any of it into a business or a career.

And as soon as I set one foot out the door, I am no longer a professional.
No longer an artist, no longer a yoga teacher, no longer a business coach, no longer a writer.
Those only exist at home, behind my computer.

When I walk out the door, I am me.
And I identify more with being Lauren Harteveld 1997, than with being the real me in 2022, to be honest.
My life becomes a performance project, being Lauren 1997, the moment I walk out the door!

I will go look for a place to work with colleagues, and where I can move around. Preferably weekends and odd hours.
I would really like to work in a restaurant in a kitchen, in a place that is entirely new to me and where I don’t know anybody yet.

Meeting new people and having fun, not building a business and making money, will not just be my priority from now on;
It will be all there is.

And then the irony; I feel that by committing myself to my art in whatever form it wants to come out, and refusing to alter it to the business models I ve either actively applied or toyed with the past decades-
I feel like this Easter is my resurrection. 
An earlier version of me has died, a
nd now my best work starts!

Not a skill, a line of work, a business, something serious, dragging, draining, where I am paid to have an expert status, paid to talk about my books, paid to teach, paid to sell and then deliver a service or program.
I am never going to do any of that ever again.

From now on, my creative work, my soul, can only be found online.

And my body can be found working in a restaurant, meeting new people, living like it is 1997. My work in real life is my performance project.
Or; my real work, is life.

Lauren lives.

.
~Lauren
An unexamined life is not worth living

Subscribe to this blog for my letters to Sara, and my 1997 diary.
The subscription button is on this page, most likely on the top right.

Books 

My diaries are available at LULU 
New books will be added.

The best way to receive updates on when these books are ready,
is to subscribe to this blog.
Button on this page, probably on the top right.

Or follow my Facebook page
/ Twitter: @LSHarteveld

Nederlands blog:
https://zegmaarlauren.com/

 

 
 
 

 

The painstaking process of writing off 25 years and 25 kilos

I have the Girlie Show tour book open at this photo of a beautiful Madonna. A reminder that I want my whole life to lift to this level.

This is a letter to my creativity coach Sara
Before our call I always give her a headsup.

Dear Sara,

I can’t believe I’m actually adamant to write about this. I mean, why, right? First of all the title already says it all, and it would be better to wait until I have some clarity on how to unstuck myself from this. How to get back some faith in myself, instead of wallowing in everything I did wrongly.

Maybe by using a term like “writing off” I hope to at least be thorough this time. That by admitting I did few things right, and the things I did do right have been undone or I m unable to enjoy anymore, that at least that means I m at rock bottom.
And they always say rock bottom is a solid foundation.

And I m not even at rock bottom because of any causes from outside of myself: Financially, health-wise, socially? I ve had so much luck and so much support. It would be hard to blame this on anyone or anything else, there are no mitigating circumstances. Maybe autism, but since I m self-diagnosed also because after 5 months on a waiting list I didn’t want to lose even more precious time waiting for my life to pick up, that doesn’t really count.
Besides with the amount of help and love I receive, and the talents I have, it should not matter that much that I m autistic. I don’t even have any of the sensatory sensitivities.
So I m not going to give that as a validation.

No, as far as I m concerned, this is my fault and since I m almost 50, I m in a hurry getting back on track and not wasting whatever time remains.

The good news is that I ve developed a model that explains why I ve chosen wrongly. Why those 25 years ended up in the drain and those 25 kilos on my hips. The model will become my signature system under my real name, to explain life, the universe and everything else, although it would have been more timely if I had invented this when turning 42. 
And since I prefer to keep this alterego as separate from my real name as I Google-wise can, I will not be using the same terminology.

So although the definitions and the model, the schedule, is precise in the model which I developed, and I can use it to explain every aspect of life, I will now choose to use the different levels in a more storytelling style.
Not a visual one.
And also, and this is something I CAN do here, and that will be on the background for my other work, I will start by illustrating it with the example of my sex life.

The only area of my life, as far as I am concerned, where I chose correctly and managed to thrive in something that is uniquely me.
And that I would have given priority to keep going, if all the extra weight and probably more importantly the weight of not succeeding and being frustrated, had knocked the unbridled joy out of that as well.

I m like: Why would I have sex, if I can’t even set up a fucking decent career? Why would I rejoice in my physicality, if all I ve done is gaining weight?
This is not the body I want to have sex with, and this is not the life I want to have sex in.

So even that success, of designing a good sex life, is past its due date. But it is still a great illustration of the general model. And why I fucked up my life, big time.
So here we go.
My model that explains life, the universe and everything else, illustrated with my sex life.

I will give them names that have to do with food. Since I m probably not going to have that anymore! 

level 1: room and board
The first level of sex, is the level you end up with if you just put one foot in front of the other, and limit your excesses to your youth and to groups and cultures where such behavior is allowed. At least temporarily.
So you re always staying within the moral code of your social circle.
In the most positive scenario, you end up with a wholesome, reliable, loving sex life. In the most negative case, you end up completely stuck in monogamy or with a relationship you do not want, or you do not have a sex life even though you would want one. 
Level 1 is where you are greatly dependent on your surroundings, and where if you want change you either have to remove yourself from the whole system, throw in all your social skills to win key figures for your agenda, or even turn into an activist and change the whole society you live in.
Level 1 is characterized by a high level of unfreedom.

level 2: home cooked meals
The second level of sex is where you deliberately craft your own sex life. You learn what your options are. You re not afraid to seek out a therapist, read books, study, talk, experiment, and to end relationships when the sex is no longer satisfying.
Even if circumstances are not ideal, you manage to serve something wholesome.
At level 2 you have an understanding of the ingredients that go into cooking, and are able to create a desired outcome.

level 3: your own recipes
The third level of sex is where you have your own sexual, cultural lingo, a narrative of your sexual history; You develop sexual concepts, or adapt existing sexual concepts to make them your own.
Level 3 is where as you age, your cooking improves significantly. You cultivate and expand on your own past recipes and incorporate the old with the new.
By now the way you cook has become uniquely yours, and it is no longer just functional.
Engaging in it, has become equally important. Cooking has become an activity you engage in for its own sake.

level 4: Chef level
The fourth and final level of sex, is where your understanding of what you’re doing, of the dynamics of it, greatly outweighs that of the average participant or consumer. You, as well as others who are at your level, do not even possess the vocabulary to describe what it is that happens at this level. All you know is that you recognize each other, and that ultimately whether you re talking about having sex or cooking or anything else;
That ultimately being at this level, sets you apart from society in both good and bad ways.
It can affect your connection at the first level, since no one dares to cook for you anymore.
Although “Chef” of course indicates that there is a predictable outcome (that of Michelin star worthy food) at level 4,  cooking has really transcended  to something that is no longer cooking.
When you are in the kitchen now, anything can happen.
The kitchen has become a playground, and you could even experiment with moving the kitchen to camping, or to cooking fish under the hood on the motor engine.

Sexually, I have been at level 4.

Creatively, I have been at number 3, yet the coat of being a writer has never fit me.

But professionally?
Professionally, I have wasted my life – or 25 years to be exact – to whining and complaining that it just.did.not.work!
At level 1.
Of course it didn’t work at level 1, anymore than my frickin’ sex life was going to work there!

But I ve also kept toying with the thought of setting up a bonafide level 2 business,  in coaching, elearning, or yoga. 
And yet, it always ended with me NOT doing that, and getting extremely angry and irritated with myself as well. I knew that for me being at level 2 was even a bigger waste than being at level 1.
At level 1, you have friends, family, society at large.
At least there is some social groundedness and love, to balance out the constrictive conservative energy surrounding that whole level.
But level 2?

Why on earth would I turn myself inside out to set up a professional monetary structure one way or the other, when it was absolutely not what I wanted to do?
I need to be able to walk away! And to BURN the entire idea of building a business or career that would basically just stack one limitation, and contractual obligation onto the next.
Yes, I want to be able to see my skills being rewarded with cash.

But not while simultaneously building a prison of liabilities and structures which have to be maintained for decades to come.

I m not going to give my freedom to act in order to become a successful professional, anymore than I have been willing to give my sexual freedom to be an accepted member of society.
But the pull of building a level 2 business model is strong… just this weekend I considered buying a laptop (my current one doesn’t have a camera or microphone) that would allow for me to give coaching calls.
Stopped myself in my tracks reminding myself that if it wasn’t part of my endgame, it wasn’t worth investing in.

That Madonna didn’t become Madonna because she tagged along Patrick Hernandez to Paris.
That it was all lost time, half a year I believe. She flew home disillusioned but also understanding that if she wanted success no one was going to help her.
She was going to have to build it brick by brick herself.

I look back on almost four years of still considering to join Patrick Hernandez in Paris because my own music is not making me any money and “he” (a bonafide level 2 business model, and the exposure that comes with it) can give me the money, the recognition AND a stage!

In hindsight, the moment I set out to develop my sexuality, and 7 years ago established Chef level;
Everything changed.

You can’t have sex at chef level and expect the rest of your life to stay the same. The only level I will ever be satisfied doing anything, is level 4. The rest will not taste even half as good, gastronomically speaking. The clothes at level 1, 2 and 3 will always be too small, fashionably speaking. And that’s not just because I consider myself 25 kg overweight.

Technically it’s not 25 kilos. It’s less. But I have lost weight before and plateaued at a healthy weight that was higher than what I m aiming for now.
I think partially, I aim for 25 kilos gone because then I m at least below that plateau. That I no longer have to be afraid to gain it all back and more, like I ultimately did, because I will no longer stop where I stopped that time.
I will push through to an even lower weight.

As if I m like:
“Well, since that end weight didn’t work, I m going to push through it.”

But you know?
Now that I m writing this to you, I think the problem the last time I lost weight, had nothing to do with not having the right end weight.
But with me doing it, in a very level 2 like fashion.
I lost weight because I ate less and exercised more. It was very outcome focused. Very, very level 2.

So I think the solution is not to lose 25 kilos this time. Although for literary reasons, in the title, 25 is of course the right number in combination with the 25 years, which is 1997, the year my performance project is taking a place.
I want to become a time capsule artist.
I want to live in 1997 as an almost 25 year old, as the series on this blog also indicates.

I started this 25 year ago series in 2019, and it takes time to get my head around it and be consistent in this time capsule, or time travel art.
But I think I understand how it is all related now!

What I need to do, losing the weight, is not focus on how much kg, nor be eager to compare it for good or for bad with the last time I successfully shed the pounds in a conventional, level 2, manner.
What I need to do is get losing weight and recreating my life and career, all the way UP to level 4! 

I need my money making activities and weight loss project to transcend not just the level of society (level 1), transcend the level of measurable results (level 2), transcend the level of having a recognizable system that I designed and that I can talk about (level 3);
I need to go all the way to level 4.

I will not lose weight until I bring losing weight at the level my sex life used to have. Level 4: Transcending it to something that is more than just a lighter body.
Instead I will bring it to being a 25 year old and 25 kilogram lighter version.

Neither will I have a career until I bring it at the level 4, a mastership level where I decide what it is: The career Lauren Harteveld will have in 1997.

The book says the number 42, is the answer to life, the universe and everything else. I remember that birthday. I was emotionally entangled with two men that year, they had both meant a lot to me in the past. I was convinced I would remember the year forever, because of them suddenly being in it.
But that wasn’t the case.

In December I met the man who would become my lover. The lover with whom I now notice I can no longer enjoy the sex the way I used to, because my body, career, and entire life are no longer at the level of our sex life.
Our sex life is still at level 4.
But I am not.

Although that summer of 2014, was so legendary, nurturing, wonderful; I remember 2014 more strongly, because of meeting him.
And I was at level 4 then, exactly at the right place to meet a man of such caliber.

But maybe the answer is indeed that the reason I was entangled with 3 wonderful men that year, was because I turned 42.
And that it really is, the answer to life, the universe and everything else.

I think I ll aim at losing 24 kilos 😉 

.
~Lauren
An unexamined life is not worth living

Subscribe to this blog for my letters to Sara, and my 1997 diary.
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Books 

My diaries are available at LULU 
New books will be added.

The best way to receive updates on when these books are ready,
is to subscribe to this blog.
Button on this page, probably on the top right.

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A simple life or Minas Tirith

Ghandalf riding to Minas Tirith

 

This is a letter to my creativity coach Sara
Before our call I always give her a headsup.

Dear Sara,

“It is no bad thing to celebrate a simple life.”
Bilbo, Lord of the Rings

I think one of the problems with a terrible war happening on the edges of your continent, is that after a week you no longer register the sound of overflying apaches and jets.
And you no longer associate nightly rumbles and blaring sirens with catastrophe having come your way.
You stop wondering if Putin is really engaging in peace negotiations or if he is just buying time to give the military freighters that have just passed through Japanese waters, a chance to make it to Ukraine, conquer it, and spread his reign of “purification”, I believe the word was, there. 

After four weeks, the atrocities of war, the impunity of Russia’s violence against Ukrainian civilians, the repression of the Russian people by their own despotic government, their inability to effectively combat the dictatorship Russia has lived under more often than not for the past hundreds of years, and finally, the threat of World War III, nuclear weapons, or the Russian made or unintended nuclear accidents in Ukraine’s power plants;
After four weeks they become the backdrop of everyday life.

We had municipal elections, and I still turned out to be living in the Dutch equivalent of Middle Earth’s Bree;
So you become like Bilbo, reluctant to hear the words of the wizard about the big world, and prefer to focus on what’s for dinner.

I realized my “small business” mindset, when I wanted to make business cards for my creative or independent work, for Dutch people I meet.
I had made international business cards a few months ago, and it had really provided me with a solid identity. And although I m still working on  the execution, I have not changed course since then.
My English work under my real name has been coherent for months.

For a moment, I thought I had reached this point as well for my Dutch work. That the time had come to make it official.

I have split my Dutch work in two: One is the yoga side of things. And this is really where the hobbit feeling comes into play, because unlike what I thought about revolutionizing yoga, making a mark and making it marketable and profitable, and so on; I ve realized Dutch yoga is absolutely not meant for that. That it is really meant to be as low-key and cozy as Bree.
That there is no shame in keeping things very, very simple. And that is exactly what I intend to do.
So I ll be building a free online yoga community, also with the possibility that if future natural gas prices and real estate opportunities allow for it, we can turn it into real life yoga and perhaps even into a real yoga studio.

It was for this Dutch yoga branch of my creative work in particular, that I intended this business card to be. 
Until I realized there was nothing to brand.

Not only did the thought of choosing colors for my business card feel too permanent, because I would then also be committing to the colors or style of a yoga website, Facebook page and so on;
I also realized that this, branding my Dutch yoga work, was exactly what I never wanted to do again in my life.

That we’re just a bunch of hobbits doing yoga with their laptops or in their local community center, but that if it’s something a New York studio would do; It was definitely not for us.

I realized  that the biggest mistake I had made during my first yoga career, was thinking that real life in-person classes answered to marketing rules.
They don’t.
They answer to: “Who teaches in the neighborhood where I live?” and if you re competing on price, that neighborhood can be broadened;
And if you ask a higher price, you re in all likeliness not going to serve a city-wide niche as you might have hoped for; But the same people who want to do yoga in their neighborhood, and don’t mind paying more.

And I realized somewhere in the past few years, that was absolutely, totally cool! 
I did my studio audience a disservice, by insufficiently attending to what mattered to them most, and what are the hallmarks of a local studio. Which  are predictability and reliability.
It should have been managed like a bakery, not like Coca-Cola.

And I realized that even more when I was undecisive about my business cards, because duh! Of course I no longer need those, any more than a bakery needs them.
And like I said: That is the charm of it.
That’s why it is lovely to do that work of teaching yoga locally. It’s the work of the heart, and will definitely be looking forward to the day when the dust has settled and it becomes possible for me again to think about building a new, real life, yoga community again.

However, there was also another aspect of my work in Dutch. And I may have created yet another persona which conflicts directly with my desire to be  viewed as an easy going, lovable hobbit;
Because I wrote my first political piece on my main website under my real name.

It was like a 2 year pandemic wrap up of being a side-lined yoga teacher, who honestly thought she had no desire of ever being viewed as a yoga teacher again;
Only to feel the stir of excitement when her former yoga colleagues protested against the Covid regulations.
And them being ruthlessly criticized, and cancelled even, for having different thoughts on vaccinations, the great reset, their immune system.
All things I do not have any thoughts worth mentioning on!
But yet: their activism had moved me.

For the first time, I had felt akin. They had not been a compliantly cooperating bunch. Our government and the Dutch had to come with something better to convince them closing yoga studios and having mandatory vaccinations before entering, was something that benefitted public health. 
They had not just rolled over and waited for the storm to pass: They had stood up.
Providing the first time I had actually started identifying with my peers, and feeling regret for not being one, now that the tides had changed and the gloves had come off.

My people, the yoga teachers that stood up, were like Minas Tirith, the city that had lacked formal ruling and had been under hereditary stewardship for centuries.
The current steward had hostile, estranged ways, but the people in the city had understood he was a marginal problem.
That him being there was a sign of deeper, more disturbing things lurking beneath the surface. Or at one legion’s distance from the city walls. 

And they had been right.
It would be in front of Minas Tirith’s gates where the final battle for Middle Earth took place. It was its courtyard of stone, where the tree came back to life. It was there, where the new king would be crowned.

In the two pandemic years, and by means of those yoga teachers protesting and holding different views, I saw that politics runs through my veins.
There is more to this hobbit than meets the eye.

I just went back onto Canva, with great clarity of who I was, and what I wanted to create. And I succeeded. My business card does mention I am a yoga teacher, but it is embedded in a broader theme of a writer analyzing, thinking, and understanding the grander scope.

I will always be a hobbit, appreciating the simple life. And I will stay true to my craft of teaching easy-going accessible yoga locally and nationally.
But I can’t breathe here…. I need to get out, as soon as class ends.

My main pieces, under my real name, in Dutch, and what I have on my Dutch business cards, needs to have the kind of weight that brings corrupt stewards and dark lords to their knees.

It needs to be the things empires are built on.

.
~Lauren
An unexamined life is not worth living

Subscribe to this blog for my letters to Sara, and my 1997 diary.
The subscription button is on this page, most likely on the top right.

Books 

My diaries are available at LULU 
New books will be added.

The best way to receive updates on when these books are ready,
is to subscribe to this blog.
Button on this page, probably on the top right.

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Nederlands blog:
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The Unification Of Europe

The impressive soundtrack as well as the movie Trois Coleur: Bleu (1993) revolve around a composition called “The Unification of Europe”

This is a letter to my creativity coach Sara (new website!) 
Before our call I always give her a headsup.

Dear Sara,

“If I speak in the tongues of men
And of angels
But have not love
I am only a resounding gong
Or a clanging cymbal”

Zbigniew Preisner: Song For The Unification Of Europe

I’ve had more confusingly conflicting emotions during the last four days of war in the Ukraine (we’re on day 5) than I had in two years of pandemic.
Conflicting because although war has come to the doorstep of Europe, where it has been since 2014 – a year The Netherlands will remember forever because passenger flight MH17 was shot down over Eastern Ukraine by Russian separatists. To say we have skin in the game would be an understatement, although strangely enough no one has brought it up to  illustrate how our fate has been tied to Ukraine – I feel a sense of relief that there is no more talk of Covid.
On Friday, almost all Covid restrictions, measures, and so on, were relieved, so that’s the official side of it. But since I had been bothered almost exclusively by the social dynamics they relied on, or caused, the social etiquette and the polarizing views, to which I myself was no stranger either; Because of that official endings didn’t mean a thing to me.

I could see them drag on their Covid wars on for another year or two, without any backup from official measures. So I wasn’t too excited by Friday’s ending of all the rules and regulations that had started my two years in social exclusion, pretty much.
And then the war started.

By Friday the whole country was so engulfed by fear of WWIII, no one barely even took notice the Covid regulations were lifted that day. It had become completely irrelevant, overnight. 
The context of our first world problems had shifted so dramatically, I think the pandemic should be renamed to Snowflake Gate. All of it. Not just the effort we put in, to protect the vulnerable at any costs (where plenty of awful mistakes were made and unnecessary deaths and damages occurred, don’t get me wrong). In fact, the intention of protection, was the only honest part of the pandemic that was NOT Snowflake Gate.
And at which we failed spectacularly.

If policies for Covid had actually been aimed at protecting the vulnerable, Snowflake Gate would not have happened.
With Snowflake Gate I mean that we didn’t even have a conversation about  what choices we would make, priorities, and our non-negotiables, when fighting the pandemic. Nothing. 

The reason the ones against legislation were so keen on using the word freedom, was because we had not had a conversation with regard to how we would define freedom, or redefine it. And which parts we had to sacrifice for Covid.
All countries as far as I know, avoided the conversation as a whole, leaving the people bickering with each other like a dysfunctional family where the children always quarrel.
Yet the war ended that.
Overnight, we knew what freedom was.

Or most of us did.
The ones who were the most extreme in their ideas of Covid being this big conspiracy the elite profited from, are finding reasons why we should just basically sacrifice Ukraine because it’s none of our business.

But most of us have forgotten about our quarrels.

Covid stopped mattering overnight.

The social dynamic, that I myself had been Snowflaking about for two years, my passive aggressive opting out of wanting anything to do with society, was gone. Everything I had wished for, which was for the majority, the dominant emotion of the society I lived in to change – something which I had not held possible because it was so intangible – had come true.
Before the sun rose on that Friday, the date when the measures were lifted, there wasn’t a trace left of the whole pandemic crisis.
And we were plunged back in cold war times.

Yet still, undeniably, I felt the relief.
My chronic stress was gone. 

That is what made it so confusing: I could feel the dire situation we were in now, and that the pandemic that we had all considered of great import for two years (either out of fear for the virus, suffering economic setback or falling back into a social phobia, like I had) had been Snowflaking first world problems compared to this one;
Yet as horrible as it was, and still is, I emotionally preferred this one.

So far, I have found myself being less intimidated by the threat of war, than the social micromanagement of wearing mouth masks that we all know don’t work; Of washing hands when we all know it’s an airborne virus; And of testing and isolating, when we also all know we’re ultimately all going to get Covid.
I found war in the Ukraine less confusing than that.

And there was something else.

Everybody stands with Ukraine, and the European Union has moved from being an economic treaty to being a political and even military one.

Europeans have united under one banner, something no one has been able to  make happen, or make even the smallest headway – just remember the UK stepping out of the EU recently.
Now the following things are not fact checked, so there may be a few things still pending but the bigger line is:

Sweden has given up its neutrality, and has joined Ukraine and the EU in the conflict.
As has neutral-for-eons Switzerland, which is freezing Russia’s assets.
Germany has given up its pacifism, and is taking the lead supplying  weapons.

For the first time in its history, Europe is living up to its name European UNION.

And in my opinion the absolute best aspect, and I think this is one I am allowed to feel good about and is less tainted than the relief about the Covid stress disappearing (at the expense of threat of war) is that the Russian people are not viewed as bad, or part of this.
There is no anomisity towards the people of Russia, and you can sense that in everything.
There seems to be a deeply rooted understanding, they are not our enemy, and I think that is because we all follow some social media account, for example on YouTube, that we have felt connected to over the past years.

The world has become global, if that even makes sense!
We feel connected to people around the world, and that makes the power of the people stronger, and it limits (I think) the power of undemocratic leaders. It puts a limit on the damage leaders can cause.

We all hope for a peaceful and diplomatic solution that will save Putin’s face, and hopefully empty out his bank account to pay for the damages to Ukraine as well as for a new Russia.
And I think the joined Europe, a real federation, will spread its wings now.

That it is as if we have been shaken awake, to protect what we love. And are finally one, not just in the Netherlands but within Europe.
The bickering has stopped.

I read the longest thread on Twitter, by @kamilkazani, about the war. And it ended brilliantly, on the importance of myth. That Venice had given in to Napoleon, which saved lives but the feeling of union, the feeling of the Venice republic, died.

But about the Ukraine he says:
“The very fact of resistance against so much superior enemy very much empowers the Ukrainian mythology. It’s enormous mythos building we are witnessing. “

He continues: 
“If you submitted without a fight, you saved lives. But you killed your mythos. You’ll be digested by the conqueror. 
But if you lost after the brutal and bloody fight your mythos is alive. The memory of the last battle will live through the ages. It will shape the mythological space your descendants live in and they’ll attempt to restore independence at the first opportunity.”

Ukraine is not just fighting for its sovereignty, but it is building their story. Their identity.

And in its wake, there is a bigger story being built. The story of a unified Europe.

The mythological space our descendants will live in.

.
~Lauren
An unexamined life is not worth living

The full soundtrack of Trois Couleur Blue, with the Song For The Unification of Europe, at the bottom of this post.

Subscribe to this blog for my letters to Sara, and my 1997 diary.
The subscription button is on this page, most likely on the top right.

Books 

My diaries are available at LULU 
New books will be added.

The best way to receive updates on when these books are ready,
is to subscribe to this blog.
Button on this page, probably on the top right.

Or follow my Facebook page
/ Twitter: @LSHarteveld

Nederlands blog:
https://zegmaarlauren.com/