Life experiences, in all shapes, sizes, and impact, are what shape us. We grow each day as we make decisions both good or bad, as we see the outcomes or feel the emotions of our choices, as we deal with both the expected and unexptected, as we say goodbye to loved ones and welcome newcomers into our lives. Most of us have had influential people in our lives, people who inspire and encourage us, a constant and often quiet presence. I am lucky enough to have had a handful of such people travel alongside me on my journey:
(1919 – 2003) grandmother, buddhist, tarot card reader, spiritual guide, child at heart
My very attuned and spiritually gifted maternal grandmother who opened her heart and home to stray people and animals, who had a magic green thumb, and did wonderfully crazy things like climbing over fences barefooted while hitching up her skirt to go salamander hunting in the creek, was deeply loved by all who knew her. She is depicted on my left forearm as a seahorse/waterdragon, the bearer of life.
(1947 – 2006) stepfather, meat processing worker, wooden clog wearer, one of the last small Dutch village icons of Epe
This golden hearted man married my mother when my brother and I were under the age of two, taking us on as his own children, never changing his feelings towards us even later when our mother gave birth to a daughter of his own. His unconditional love, high moral values, truth, raw honesty, no nonsense attitude, and un-embellished way of delivering these shaped my early childhood.
FRANS & JANNEKE SCHLACK
family, guardians, adventurers, disciplinarians, supporters, masters of doing what you can with what you have
Although wildly different people as individuals, my not-even-in-his-twenties-yet paternal uncle and his girlfriend made the decision to marry quickly so that they could avoid the orphanage and take custody of the three of us after our mother died unexpectedly at the age of 29. It was a very rough and rocky road for everyone involved but we made it through very enriched and very close. Moving to Australia and purchasing a 40 acre property with no electricity or running water where initially we lived in a tent, then a camper, and then a house, taught me not to be afraid of starting from scratch. No heating or cooling, we drank from a rainwater tank, slathered on the elbow grease, used an outside potty, rode horses, ate veggies from our organic garden, listened to Kate Bush on an old record player, and were introduced to a wide range of interests such as Tolkien, Carlos Casteneda, card games, early computers, and held deep-into-the-night conversations about life and the universe. That was in my teens. Today, even though we live in different countries, these two are continuing to be my pillars of support.
VP of Magical Farms, sommelier, confidant, business professional, empowerer, sharer of ice wine and laughter
His unflappable calm demeanor, ability to connect with people of all ages and walks of life and treat all with individual attention and the highest level of respect, constant and consistent flow of professionalism and ethics, and, most of all, his ability to encourage and empower, played a huge role in allowing myself to open up from the natural introvert that I am, enabling me to gather the confidence to teach and share my skills and knowledge with my fellow alpaca growers.
photographer, writer, artist, dreamer, teacher
Enjoying a daily breakfast routine in small town local eateries, offering unwaivering support for friends and their dreams, the ability to see people’s best qualities and smooth feathers, reminiscing over old photographs and telling stories, writing long letters, taking field trips to interesting locations to photograph and sharing what he has so selflessly are what makes this kind man such a joy and calm source of inspiration to be around. His passion of photography and art continues to enrich and support my own creative journey, unlocking skills and freeing the flow of energy and growth.