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.

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New books will be added.

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

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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.

Or follow my Facebook page
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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.
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/

 

 
 
 

 

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.

Or follow my Facebook page
/ Twitter: @LSHarteveld

Nederlands blog:
https://zegmaarlauren.com/

 

 
 
 

 

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/

 

 
 
 

 

From news binging to news fasting

Madonna in Desperately Seeking Susan (1985)

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

Dear Sara,

Our last call caught me at the height of my interest in Dutch politics. Something which I have come down from since, for very practical reasons but I have made a hard cut not to visit any news sites anymore.
I do see the occasional thing on Twitter, or a frontpage that automatically opens on your Samsung, or after you close your Outlook on your browser.
In those cases I indulge in headlines.

Yesterday I did follow a weekly livestream on YouTube from a critic of Dutch Covid politics. It’s mostly about data, data analysis, and research on Covid, comparing different countries and strategies. And illustrating how the Dutch have “chosen” to use these data.
I don’t think it surprises anyone that they are not doing well, and are giving new meaning to the words “inconsistent load of bullshit measures that will maneuver soon under the influence of pending municipal elections.”
Paraphrasing here.

But the weekly livestream and seeing the occasional MSN frontpage is marginal compared to how invested I was two weeks ago.
After our call I decided to stop resisting my urge to follow the news, as it only seemed to make matters worse, and also because it had resulted in a piece that I later assumed was probably my best piece ever written on anything, ever.
To dive headfirst, and fully committed, into our 6 to 8 weeks political finale, was the right choice at the time.
And a relief, to finally lean into this interest, that I had tried to moderate and contain.

But then I slept zero hours that night, and turned a 180.
I pulled all the stops on watching any news, and although I am not yet where I want to be, I have not ingrained being a non-news watcher any more than I have ingrained living in 1997 for my art performance project (even though I want and desire both!), so even though it has been flawed at best;
My life did look differently the past two weeks, compared to if I had stuck to my initial plan of going all in on following the news until its political finale.

The choice to change my plan was not really a choice but a necessity after sleep deprivation. It wasn’t because I thought I would get bored or not have enough to write about, if I had stuck to my plan to follow the Dutch Covid news for 6 to 8 weeks.
It also gave me time to reflect and I have wondered:
Why did I have this sudden interest in Dutch politics?

Were Dutch politics always this interesting, but did I need it to come down to civilian virus levels before I could understand how politics impacted my world?

But I concluded I had been right on one thing: This is no ordinary politics. We live in a very turbulent time, and not just because of a virus, but because of everything that went wrong in the decades before 2020.
The cracks in Dutch civilization and the first signs of polarization, go as far back as the early 90s.
Which meant that after decades of marginalizing and excluding a larger and larger part of Dutch society;

Of making the poor poorer.
Of making the procedures and administrative trails for allowances longer.
Of privatizing health care, and then introducing extra cuts, fees and over €350 mandatory own risk  on hospital care, to add insult to injury.
Banning all humanity from public services and treating people like case numbers that had to have problems that neatly fit into a box that qualified for funding before they were helped.

And after a decade of structural financial abuse and institutional racism by our government, brutal attacks where they have wiped out and destroyed entire families because they had a foreign sounding name;

To then land in a pandemic, and see a government that needs all its people to trust them and take care of one another;
When all they have done for decades was create the ideal climate for civil war?

Then no.
This was not just Dutch politics as usual, that happened to catch my eye, just because the topic of Covid was one that impacted us all.

The past two years have uncovered a dark and rotten country that has been capitalizing on the people it should have protected.
Did I tell you the Dutch housing shortage has reached historic heights, and that they have sold our real estate to foreign investors, and have given incentives to housing corporations to sell their houses and tax them per house owned? 
They did.

I guess the only difference between a bombing literally taking down your houses, and a government who sells your real estate to commercial investors, is that when the houses are bombed down, you can actually see they are no longer part of this world.
The Netherlands have ghost real estate and the biggest housing shortage in history.
God, what a fucked up situation.

But again; No.
My past two years were indeed not “just” a “relatable topic-interest” in politics. More is at stake. And I think it was important enough, and I was definitely invested enough, that I “should” have given it my all, and even try to find some sort of supportive, and positive angle. 
Look for something I and other people can do to heal from this let’s call it “political trauma” that has been wreaking havoc since the 90s.
But I can’t.

Not sleeping at all since the moment I decided to give it my all, says I can’t.
So apparently I am NOT prepared to give it my all after all.
That sleepless nights can come from being a secret mistress; They can come from feeling threatened and violated; They can come from being almost 50 and being very aware that if I don’t figure out how to live into my purpose, I m going to die and my life will have meant nothing.

But that I am not prepared to give 6 to 8 weeks of my life to losing sleep over the clusterfuck that Dutch politics has become.

And because of that, because I understood that if I wasn’t part of the solution, I was part of the problem;
I left.

After two years I am no longer following Dutch politics, and am focusing on my own life instead.

And considering the problems we in The Netherlands are facing today, stem from the 90s?
I think going headfirst, and all-in, on me living 25 years ago, as I have been dabbling with since 2019/1994-
I think that is probably the best I can do.

That living in 1997, the decade when it all began, is the best art I have to offer.

That “living” like Lauren 1997, writing her book 3, and publishing book 1 and 2 (1994-1996) what I have been working on this week;
That those are not just the most significant contribution I can make, to a nation in disarray;
But the only one, that I know only I can make.

And that I’m more than happy to lose sleep over. 

 

~Lauren
An unexamined life is not worth living

The new chapter to Lauren’s 1997 diary will be written within days.
Subscribe to this blog to receive it.

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:
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December 2021:

 
 

 

And now for something completely different

Kristen Steward Backstage magazine. This is how I imagine 1997 me would look

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

Dear Sara,

I wrote my letter to you yesterday.
Except it wasn’t a letter; It was an analysis of the most recent Dutch Covid developments.
A drama in x parts that seems to be getting its season’s finale this week.
Man, so compelling!
By now I m ready to admit I’m absolutely hooked on this adventure with Games of Thrones sized betrayal.
Like this series that you don’t want to get hooked on, but then you watch one show, in this case last Tuesday’s press conference, and: Bam!
Hooked again!

This has happened several times since the start of the pandemic. When I watch the press conference this derails my entire week. I always lose two to three days glued to the screen, ending by writing a blogpost.

But yesterday the blog post came when I wanted to sit down and write you. So at the end I had this meta on Dutch Westeros, only to realize I had written a standalone piece and not a letter to you.
And although my seasonal obsession with the Dutch politics surrounding Covid has been a part of our correspondence before, this time it really was not what I wanted you to read before our call.

The piece was so heavy and thorough. It felt like an endgame and not like something I wanted to discuss.
I will admit I wasn’t happy with it, when I finally went to bed at 2 A.M.
I considered what was then 1.5 day, lost in the Covid rabbit hole, as wasted time and a disgrace for the creative and professional ambitions I had set for myself!
When I went to sleep with the feeling the blogpost was proof of my sins against time, God, and my purpose here on this earth, since I obviously should not have spent that time on the subject and become so emotionally invested in it.
My biggest aim when writing it, was hoping it would cleanse me and give me a fresh start.

That the piece would bring an end to another wildly irresponsible Covid news, discussion, and social media binge on a topic I did not consider one of my core interests. 

Except of course, I ve now realized that Dutch Covid politics are a core interest after all.
And unsurprisingly really, because my highest value is freedom. Freedom of expectations, and freedom to choose.

The past four years, ever since I slowly and gradually let go of my yoga business, have been all about understanding I needed to get out of every situation that tried to claim and chain my time and loyalty. Every bind that was structured, that was a given, everything that created unfreedom, had to be cut.
So of course Covid policies are and have been a genuine interest.
In hindsight it is not strange at all, that I fell down the Covid rabbit hole time and time again. I felt the measures were a threat to my freedom. 
And now that I believe they will hold on to the QR code, the digital pass that proves vaccination and gives you access to public life – It makes total sense that I m upset.

So that was one aspect I didn’t totally understand when I wrote the piece; That I was on topic, after all.

But another thing I was unable to predict, is that when I woke up this morning and reread it?
I absolutely loved it.
It’s the best thing I wrote during the pandemic, and it might be the best thing I wrote my whole life. About Covid politics! How dry can it be! It’s not even about sex!

So now I am even more confused. 
I hate politics and I don’t want to write about them. I want to write about sex, and then more sex, and then as dessert I want to write more about sex.
Yet rereading my meta on what promises to be the Grande Finale of Dutch Covid politics, I was compelled by my own writing.

In case you want to read it, it’s this one:
Ich Rieche Blut. And it’s not German. 

And an hour ago, the preview dropped of footage of official vaccination centers where they vaccinate teens without parental consent, incorrectly inform them, and teach them to lie to their parents. Filmed with hidden camera.
So the moment I thought I could let it go, this plot twist pops up.
I m not sure if I will be able to sleep tonight, and sleeping has been a big problem for weeks now.

Last night, after writing for 6 hours, I got to bed at 2 AM and got up at 10. But that was way more efficient as all the nights prior, when I went to bed at 11 PM, and ALSO got up at 10, because I couldn’t catch my sleep or it was interrupted and I lay awake for hours on end.

One of the most recent nights, I remember what the reason was I had been unable to sleep. I was just too excited, because I finally had my life figured out!
I finally knew what it was I wanted to do, and it was so clean, crispy, healthy. It was almost minimalist! I ll tell you what it was in a moment, but the irony of course, is that before I could get this show on the road, before I could get to work on the Plan of Plans for my life, I derailed completely and got lost in Covid land, and wrote the best piece of work and on a topic that was NOT part of my mission statement.

So I am terribly confused, and have no idea how valid my vision it. It seems like a bad omen that I fell off the wagon and got myself dirty rolling around in Covid politics instead.
That is a disclaimer, but nevertheless, I still like this idea.
Here it is:

I m going to work creating two yoga communities on YouTube, under my real name, one Dutch and one English – both tied to initiatives, blogs and channels that I ve been toying with the past few years. The yoga concepts are based on everything I ve thought about, developed, and decided on the past few years as well.
A book, schedules, themes; It’s all ready, and has been in the starting blocks for a long time.

When I received that part of the vision, I immediately understood what this meant in terms of self-care, daily yoga, daily exercise, diet, but also keeping my apartment clean to do yoga and to record yoga and other videos.
I felt myself transform into the Marie Kondo of yoga, so clean and pristine.

The two yoga businesses are tied in with the writing I do under my own name, but the way I “see” myself is as a yoga teacher because this is the part I want to take offline ultimately, although not in the form of going back to teaching weekly classes.
But teaching yoga really is one of the few ways I can interact with people, feeling we’re in an equal relationship. Talking about my books or my thoughts, will never have that fulfilment.
That’s why these two branches of yoga, the international one and a Dutch yoga channel, inspire me.

Next to that, I am going to build a, what I would call, publishing house, where I focus on publishing my LS Harteveld work, but I also see myself as Lauren Harteveld here.
This alterego Lauren Harteveld is not just a name on the cover of my books, but it really is a different me.
And this role as publisher, so the job I have as Lauren Harteveld, is also related to strategy and management of the entire business, including finance, sales and business development on the yoga side of things.
In a way, I (Lauren) will be my own agent.

On a side note: I still do not see Lauren Harteveld, or my work here, as something I want to speak about in the world.
I like the Lauren Harteveld project where I go back in time 25 years. I actually wrote the first chapter of the new year, 1997.
I can’t allow myself to care about you (NSFW) | 1997 diary

I feel by giving all, in my writing as Lauren Harteveld, I do something that discharges me from having to interact over it. It’s not like Covid policies, where I stay glued to my timeline. Pieces like Lauren 1997, are entirely solitary.
I write them in my own world, being in 1997, being offline.

I like pretending I am in 1997, and days I manage to pull that off, and I am only briefly online to efficiently do my business work as Lauren Harteveld headquarters;
Those days are the happiest.

So I thought I had it all figured out. I thought I knew what I would write you this week. About having the vision, about understanding how my two identities, and my two professions (yoga and writing) would go together, and that I was losing sleep over it because it was all so exciting, and that my house was still a mess, and my yoga routine non-existent;
But that it would all come.
Victory was near.

And then this week happened, and I got sucked into Covid politics mayhem. And even worse- before I could judge myself for having wasted so much precious time, I realized that the thing I had written was the best I had written since the start of the pandemic.
And quite possibly the best, or perhaps “the most authentic” thing, I had written in my entire  life.

And I checked the parts of my business: Yoga English, Dutch Yoga, Publishing house, Headquarters.

And sadly realized writing emotional, soul-searching longreads about current day events, were not my business.

..

~Lauren
An unexamined life is not worth living

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/

 

 

Out with the altruism and in with the hatred

photo https://www.deviantart.com/babak/art/Written-in-Blood-7959470

 

(lengthy)disclaimer:
this post is a personal coping post, and it has a trigger warning for making you feel bad. Although it helped me get clarity and find meaning – 
it could end up making you feel sad or threatened.
Furthermore the post is not aimed against a person, nor an organization. I hope this post is clear I do not hold any individuals responsible, it is a system that is causing me stress.
But in particular because the Netherlands are going through a turbulent time, you may choose to not read.
If you are not from the Netherlands, I suspect it will be a way lighter read.

 

“Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned,
nor Hell a fury like a woman scorned”

William Congreve
The Mourning Bride (1697)

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

Dear Sara,

I took the wrong turn somewhere, because I am right back in the same hatred, the same destructive mood, the same all-consuming desire to speak in such destructive terms about my third vaccination experience, that I will go for a maximum impact of people who will now not get vaccinated, are halted in their compliance, or who will suddenly feel the vile of their cooperation as my words ruthlessly purge them of any positive emotions.

This post is in English, the experience described is in The Netherlands.
Maybe that is my compromise?
That I will not weaponize my own language, but will allow my destructive message that will rob you of your peace of mind, to be softened by a different tongue.
One slightly milder to your ears.

Isn’t it ironic that the word compromise means both a deal, a halfway agreement, as well as out of integrity?
And that maybe I should have thought of that before I made the decision to get my third vaccination, as “merely” a compromise with The Dutch who feel safer around me if I take this vaccination.
That I should have considered that compromising with them, with public opinion, cutting a deal with “them”, this fictional crowd of people I do not know, that I was at the same time compromising in the second meaning of the word, meaning I was compromising me?

My action, taking the booster, which until this afternoon I would have labeled as
1. Altruism
A desire to do something to help those who feel threatened by the new mutation and help us get Dutch healthcare through the January wave.
and
2. Loyalty with the majority
“Their sins will be my sins, and their fate will be mine.” is my adage for this pandemic.

But my decision to get a booster vaccination was in hindsight absolutely NOT in integrity, and it was compromising, and has compromised, everything I stand for.

Because when altruism means having your name shouted at high volume by a military, twice, when you are standing next to them – again twice, both occasions;
When you are already WELL AWARE that you paid for being part of the vaccination program by your classified home address ending up in the leaky as fuck computer system of national health services (a situation that has caused scandals in 2021 but which has since then been largely ignored. One imagines in order to not dampen the vaccination spirit);

Then altruism has crossed a motherfucking line.

And from now on they can stuff their altruism and me giving a fuck about anybody else but me, right where the sun does not shine.
We have an expression in Dutch when you refuse to cooperate and it’s that someone can “fall dead”.
They can fall dead.

Before I make my final cut, do you know what the biggest frustration is? That it is ALL MY OWN FAULT!
In November, when news of the booster came, I didn’t want to take it and easily calculated that my vaccinations were valid until April. And that I wasn’t getting vaccinated before that.

You see, we in the Netherlands have a polarizing, constitutional-rights -violating system in place, where only the vaccinated can get access to theatres, restaurants and so on. This was before the December lockdown, so now no one gets access. Which makes the lockdown kind of freeing and soothing. At least we’re all equal again.

Anyway, that system, the QR code, was not in place for the largest part of 2021. So it was no factor in deciding if you did or did not wanted to get vaccinated.
When in summer I got my jabs, it was not because I got those kind of perks.

So when in autumn they introduced this discriminatory system, that makes restaurants and theatres feel like ethically unsavory places where the more daring among us have not shied away from making 2nd world war comparisons, I changed my game play too.
From “vaccinating what feels right” to “vaccinating the minimal requirement”.
Because b
y taking my vaccinations in summer, I had wasted QR-free months. If I had not been such a complaint eager beaver pussy, and had waited for them to make their move forcing the population to get vaccinated, I would have won 3, 4 months!
Clearly I would not be making such a beginner mistake again.

Because I thought this was about solidatiry.
But if we’re playing QR code? Then the gloves are off, and I m upping my game.

So like I said; When in November news of the booster came?
I did not want it. 
At that time all European countries had agreed a double vax was 9 months valid.
It was clear as day to me, my QR would last me until April 2022, and I was not going to go for a booster which would not amount to any extra points in the QR game which the government had turned this into, the moment they introduced the pass.

But I must have watched a few too many press conferences, and I definitely browsed way too often on our Dutch news sites (just to illustrate: NONE of them have talked of the phenomenon of choosing your vaccination based on QR code validity. That’s how pro-government they are) and the propaganda did their evil work of brainwashing me into a fucking marter who thought whose job it was to become a human wave-breaker for the Omicron variant.

Fuck, Sara.
Fuckfuckfuckfuckfuck.
I KNEW IT!!!! And I let it go, and let my mind be highjacked by government propaganda ending up in a crowded hall with mandatory 15 minute sitting after your vaccination.
Super spreader event, that’s what it is.
One with your name called out, your classified address in a leaky as fuck system, and they had separate entrances (entrances? Drafty doors without windows) for 45 year plus and minus.

The background story for the split was that the people over 45 get a different vaccine than those under 45. But both groups get a designated entrance and designated line outside
They do this by means of A4 prints stapled or stuck with sticky tape, on these doors.

Let me repeat this:
A government funded campaign that is supposed to draw in, and cater and satisfy (one assumes), as many people as possible, because we are dealing with a global health crisis, and you have A4 pRIntS sTapleD tO ThE dOOr.

So based on age, you either enter the building through drafty door 1, or through drafty door 2.
And I will get to the role the guards play here, but I assume you do not need me mentioning guards to understand the historic imagery that comes to mind when in front of a large intimidating building without windows, the people arriving there are separated without understanding what for.

Before I continue, I want to stress that this location in particular and the experience of going for a third vaccination in general, have been reviewed on my Twitter timeline as 100% positive.
And these praise, laughs, compliments, and solidarity those tweets conveyed, have convinced me that either
I am an absolute diva in my concerns for digital,  audible and visible privacy (did I tell you they literally cut privacy since last time? The booths are a quarter of the size and the screens half the size as what I had last summer), with an over-sensitivity to human or animal mass murder associations. The zig zag cattle trail was also back.

Or, alternatively; 

My fellow citizens are people with whom I have absolutely zero in common, and who, more importantly- will be absolutely fine without my help.

Because if you’re okay getting vaccinated by a military who finished his vaccination course last week, with your privacy violated, your younger family members brutally separated from you, at a location you visit with thousands of others, making it your Covid hot-spot for the month of January?
Then you definitely do not need me, to save you from this pandemic.

This place was clearly designed for people who were very happy to get vaccinated, and definitely not for people like me who did it out of concern for others.
And the place has effectively cured me out of any concern for others for the rest of my life.

So let’s wrap this up, moving back up.

About the guards to the line.
In front of me two people of mixed age approached the door, where the guard, loudly, interrogated them on their age.
When one of them said she was under 45, he told her off for being in the wrong line, or at least that is how I interpreted his demeaning tone of voice, and told her to go to the other line, where she would then of course had to start all queuing again.

I want to stress that we’re talking about a situation where the different entrances based on age was instructed on printed A4s, without any explanation of why the line only was for a certain age group. And without any instruction on what to do if you were a mixed party.
It was without hosts patrolling the line and keeping an eye on who started queuing so they could be quickly escorted to the other line and would not waste precious time, only to then be bullied and shamed before being sent away to the other door.
I thought it was important to stress that, and write an entire paragraph because this illustrates how little effort was being made to make the vaccination a pleasant or at least not totally degrading experience.

The same experience, like I said, Twitter was full of praise of how great it all was. 
So this is clearly just me, being sensitive.
And maybe just me, but who knows others, being turned from cooperative to ones who will speak ill behind your back until their dying breath.
Which could be tonight.
I would not be surprised if this one kills me. If it does I hope it helps people from ever taking one for the team ever again.
That is why I write tonight; So that if I die it’s not in vain.

The blogpost, I must say, contains even more hatred than even I thought I had in me. That my anger is stronger than I thought I could muster.
I thought I was just beaten, intensely sad, and that the endless crying meant I was defeated.
Now I realize it means that hell has been unleashed.

And that like the devil, who was once an angel, a demon of pure evil has unleashed itself within me.

My loyalty with the majority, is gone.
Your sins will no longer be mine.
Your fate will no longer be mine.

You re on your own.

And, thankfully, gratefully, and perhaps in a diabolical way even gracefully;
So am I.

..

~Lauren
An unexamined life is not worth living

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/

 

 

And just like that, I am traumatized

This post has a trigger warning for sexual assault and  contains spoilers for And Just Like That.

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

Dear Sara,

In my last post I told you I had decided to pick up teaching yoga to friends and find a venue to do this – which was supposed to benefit my social life, maintain or restore my teaching skills, have work that is meaningful and important to others, and it would be the minimal professional requirement to be able to pick up teaching an entirely new yoga to an international community post pandemic.
But then lockdown happened, and the future of the studio of my choice has become uncertain. As did my willingness to pay rent for a venue I will not be able to use every time we go into lockdown.

I also said I wanted to start doing yoga again, which I have not done.
I can’t decide which yoga to choose from (my own yoga schedules/ system? Yoga with Adriene? A memberships site? Study already acquired yoga courses?)
When I had finally decided on Ashtanga yoga, I found a very inspiring teacher who had also founded the yoga studios as we know them today, so I could see how her perfect understanding of all the moving pieces of a yoga business would be just the type of yoga teacher I would be able to relate to;

Only to find out she unexpectedly died age 55.

And she’s not the only Ashtanga practitioner to die so young, because the first ashtanga manual I had was also from someone who was praised for being a blessing to the teachings of Ashtanga, and he had developed his own style of it;
Yet he didn’t live to be 60 either.

So right now I feel committing to Ashtanga yoga is basically setting one foot in your coffin. Needless to say this kept me from starting.

The other two things I said I would do I also didn’t do; Restore my yoga database, with my recorded yoga videos, and to start practicing those.
The work did inspire me for a while, but perhaps because of the underlying buildup of my trauma, and a need for stronger medicine, the practicing never took off.
Also, the reposting/unlocking of the videos turned out more difficult because content that had never been on “public” got reposted with the current date.
So they lost their correct place in the archive, and cluttered the 2021 uploads.

Last time I wrote you, I also explained how I had fully nailed, and understood, the work and image that would be my international work under my real name.
Even though it would have an incredibly tough start because of Covid hardly allowing for any human interaction, I was grateful to understand what my endgame under my real name was.
What I could say “I was” or “I did” and even, ultimately, “what I do”, where do stands for what pays the bills.

So all those plans went down the drain, and something else, or so it seems, came out of the drain. Like a demon clawing its way up in opposite direction, and jumping through the sliding doors.

The first time I noticed its presence, was when I had a nightmare about friends who wanted to sexually assault me. The two friends do not know each other, and in my dream they were not in the same scene. But one had an unhealthy, passive aggressive poor-me, “mask” (I believe he definitely considered himself to be a poor-me in those moments), which flicked between that and a monstrous sexual clinginess and demandingness, at which times he laughed hysterically and his teeth were deformed.
The other was behaving like a classic pedophile, full of understanding for how difficult my life was right now, yet I knew he could not be trusted and that he would violate me.
I knew I had to avoid being alone with either one of them.

This nightmare was from around the time of our last letter, and that was also the time when the Sex And The City follow up And Just Like That started.
I was shocked that they killed Mr.Big because that was the character I had used to describe my secret lover, from 2015 and up.
I even have a book out Big, diaries and erotica, and I have many work still waiting to be published, that features him.

Fortunately, in 2019, I started a series taking place 25 years ago, and ever since then I m almost exclusively writing about him under the name Bear, and only in the fiction of my 1994-1996 life.
This series has made it possible for me to keep writing about my personal life, and, as it turned out, it has also provided a welcome separation of “my Big” with the Mr.Big from the series.
Because his death was not the only thing that gave me a blow.

The actor who plays Mr.Big is being accused of sexual misconduct (I m not sure if that is the correct term) by two women.
This is not just sad and disturbing because of the fact that this happened to these women, but to me personally this is also as if they have accused my Mr.Big, of such behavior.

As if the man I thought I knew, is an offender.

I think that is what caused the dreams about my friends, but I can’t be sure because I didn’t note down when it was, nor did I note down when I heard the allegations or about the death of Mr.Big.
I do know that I felt the relationship to my lover change, without him being in it.
I started to feel unsafe and exposed, having been his secret lover for almost 7 years now, even though I have not seen him recently.

And memories of the last time with my lover, which had been good, as well as the account of our entire relationship, which has always been complicated and has always involved emotional pain;
Those were mixed with Mr. Big dying in the series, my friends being sexually threatening, and the actor of Mr.Big being accused of sexual misconduct.

But all that was a walk in the park with what happened yesterday.

I visited a friend, and we watched a movie that had sexual assault in it. We knew we were taking a risk, and I think that if it had not been for the other things happening earlier this month, I would have been fine.
But this time I am not.

I feel very uncomfortable about having been in his house, us watching that movie, and I feel triggered by all the other friends I visit, or that come over to my place. And I feel threatened by the hugs I have been letting back into my life the last few months.

Since the beginning of December I ve opened up my life and arms (hugs), because if I don’t start doing that I am going to die of loneliness this winter.
But now it’s the end of December and I feel sexually assaulted by things that are not even there. By things that have not happened. And I cannot appreciate the memories of the things that did happen.

Even when masturbating, in my sexual fantasies, for the first time ever I feel assaulted. This started this month too. And this too, was something I had not considered a liability, just like I had failed to see my nightmares were a sign of my mental health collapsing and me no longer being able to distinguish friend from foe.

I should never have chosen that movie with the friend yesterday. But we did.

I tweeted about this feeling, yesterday. Trying to put it to words. And although they were inadequate, I think this blogpost, this more extensive story, is not necessarily better. So because I don’t have any answers, and because I do not intend to end this post with a punchline, the way I usually do, I will close by repeating the Tweet-length version of what it is that happened in December:

Tomorrow I m going to blog about my meltdown, which I attribute to Covid s loneliness and 2 year shortage or absence of real life interaction. Ever since I ve started seeing people in real life again, and have even touched and hugged, I m having nightmares and worse 1/

Consensual social interaction triggers a trauma response later when the moment is over. I no longer know my own desires, boundaries. After 2 y of covid I ve started creating abuse/ trauma internally, out of healthy situations Is there literature on this/a name for this? 2/2

I think the reason I have developed a sexual trauma response to social interaction is because of social isolation. I ve lost not just my capacity to enjoy social interaction (without feeling sick after) but also my sexuality. https://publichealth.tulane.edu/blog/effects-of-social-isolation-on-mental-health/

My sexuality was the only thing I knew how to handle, during the crisis. It was something I deliberately prioritized, protected, and nurtured.

And now it got contaminated, and its filth has been spreading throughout all my social interactions, hugs, my humanness, and my humaneness.

I feel like that demon, has already won.

..

~Lauren
An unexamined life is not worth living

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