Write Your Heroine’s Journey and Strengthen Your Business

My wave of change is building her momentum

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Dancing with the universe for three months in Indonesia. Picture by author.

This story is part of my course in authentic storytelling for business purposes. My heroine’s journey is an example of how you might write your own heroine’s journey. It can be a word story or a script for a short film or some other creative expression.

We need new narratives for new kinds of businesses. And I’m so glad that women from all around the world are taking up the challenge and act. Here’s my heroine’s journey. At the end, you’ll find the structure.

The wave of change flooded my life when I was a bit of a bored being. More of a rockpool anemone than an exciting ocean muse. My job as an international marketing manager in a high-tech company did not fulfill me anymore.

When I looked in the mirror I saw a dead-end street. Dull eyes looked back at me. I asked this woman in her 40s: “What do you want? What do you really want?” And she just stared. No sparks in her brain. No joy in her heart. No… nothing, really…

I had changed jobs every three or four years in the 28 years of my business career. I changed cities, even changed countries. And I still couldn’t find my purpose in life. My stardust was inspiring everyone but me.

My sense of responsibility had always been big. But it was also burdening me. The woes of the world were weighing me down. Climate change. Inequality. Child abuse.

And all the while I was working in an international sales team. We developed physical vapor deposition technologies and I wrote the stories, organized conferences, and made deep scientific knowledge recognizable for our customers.

In an intellectual way, my job was inspiring enough. The time flew when I worked and connected to all these international colleagues, who developed new technologies. I spent my days interviewing big automotive brands and scientific teams on the brink of breakthroughs.

And then I came home and the burdens crushed me. How was I contributing to a better world? My private life was enjoyable enough. I lived with my husband in a Dutch village. Spent time with our friends and family. And went on holiday. But was that enough for me?

Writer Annie Dillard famously said, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” Gettysburg College calculated: the average person will spend 90,000 hours at work over a lifetime.

Wow! That’s 11.250 workdays! A full 30 years! And I had spent quite a big chunk on high-flyer jobs I did enjoy. Although never for long. But does selling machines count for a life worth living?

Halfway through my life. And I was still looking for my spark. My passion. My talents. Of course, I knew I was a good writer and a dedicated manager with a sharp brain. But ouch, shouldn’t I be able to put these talents to better use, overall?

I really didn’t know how to, so I tried not to think too hard about it. TV series helped. And hobbies. I took up photography and I liked it.

Before the earth opened up and swallowed me alive, I spent two weeks in Hungary where my worldview turned upside down. The Blue Economy Summer School at the University of Pècs was life-changing for me.

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ZERI thinktank — The Blue Economy

In the summer of 2013, I went there and learned from Gunter Pauli, Luigi Bistagnino, Tibor Kiss, Ivanka Milenkovic, and many others.

The Zero Emissions Research Initiatives (ZERI) thinktank was vast and deep.

Two weeks of intense systemic-thinking, sustainability-experience, and knowledge-transfer followed. And everything I thought I knew toppled over.

I made international friends for life. And I found the field that I would study and apply for the rest of my years on this planet. I have called it ‘Aligning the economy, ecology, and the human spirit.’

Coming back home was difficult. My energy was charged. I had no clue whatsoever what I was going to do with the knowledge gained. But I sparkled all over. My own stardust had touched my soul. Two weeks later I gave my first training. I was a happy girl!

But not for long.

There had been a volcano under my soil. And although my feet had felt the heat, I didn’t recognize the eruption risk before it was too late. The lava spurted out in the autumn of 2013. And my life as I knew it ended.

My 23-year marriage broke into a thousand pieces. And because my father had died the year before, I had no important men left in my life.

Depression, sadness, and fear washed over me. No steady soil under my feet. My boring job kept my days sane and my friends made me dinner. Spicy soups made my tongue tingle. They were my favorite comfort food.

I had gone to live in a small house in the woods. And I walked endless walks around the nearby lakes. Tears on my cheeks merged with the winter rains.

Some of my friends reminded me that now I could go anywhere I wanted. But the world felt too big for my size-38 feet. I mourned. And I slammed with doors. And I tired my body with horse shed cleaning and creating micro-organism-rich compost. Anything for a healthy planet.

In 2014, I jumped and became a full-time freelancer.

I never looked back.

It took me five years to find my feet again. In those years, I learned how to heal my emotions with bodily awareness. I found my spirituality. I went to El Hierro and saw with my own eyes how an aligned economy could work wonders. And I studied for months at a time at Schumacher College in the UK.

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Schumacher alumni are like a starling murmuration. Picture: wikimedia commons

‘Stories of the Earth’ was one of those courses. Shaman Jonathan Horwitz and his storyteller partner Zara taught me how to get in touch with Gaia’s stories and tell them in my own voice. These are the stories that need to be heard. The stories that’ll transform our lives on this planet.

And I started to write again. Short fiction at first. As a prerequisite for the world-changing stories that I’m writing now. About nature-based solutions. About leadership. About regenerative business models.

And poetry fueled by Gaia.

My life was filled with women during those five years and it felt great! My international sisters. I fell in love with a Greek mountain and worked side by side with wonderful changemaker women.

I had always worked in male business environments and began to realize what it had done to me. I had tried to create value in a masculine manner. From the outside in. Sales first, substance later. Compromising ethics and approaching sustainability from a ‘doing less bad’- point of view.

I had a coach who taught me about life. And helped me heal the fears and burdens of my childhood. Later, I was brave enough to see my marriage clearly. And was able to let go.

At some point, I started to broaden my world again and went on holiday alone to South Africa. A turning point in my life. Here’s the story.

And I danced. I felt my body from the inside-out and danced in my living room. Or outside, on the pavement. Or in the woods, next to the lake. Slowly, quickening, passionately. And after a while, I realized I wasn’t the dancer. I was being danced.

“Life is the dancer. You are the dance.” — Eckhart Tolle

So, here I am now. My cheeks in the wind and my feet firmly on healthy, living soil. My job is now about “Restoring ecosystems and learning how to live as humans within planetary boundaries”.

I am a servant leader. I connect deeply to nature, to myself, and to other people. And I create lots of value with my stories, education, and hands-on Blue Economy projects in collaboration with Dutch, European, and worldwide partners.

The European Commission and award-winning filmmaker Marijn Poels are my clients. Farmers and architects are my clients to help them build healthy soil and healthy buildings. I create nature-based solutions. Upstream solutions. And I work in economics and design education.

From Brazil to Lebanon. From my Dutch town Venlo to living three months in Indonesia (2019–2020) and educate at the Green School Bali. Soon, I’m planning to be in Greece for a few months to support the Meraki People build their nature-based solutions, create jobs, and restore ecosystems.

My business model has multiple income streams and whatever is superfluent I spend on ecosystem restoration. Or as an impact investor for the beautiful startups that design our new world and are struggling in the current paradigm of unlimited growth.

I choose value over money. I collaborate in all my projects and I share proceeds. I bring Gaia’s messages. I spread her wisdom on how to restore the soil, rivers, and oceans. And how to provide for human basic needs in healthy economies, businesses, and societies.

The mirror shows me passionate eyes now. Full of fire and warm with compassion. And next to me, I see Mike’s reflection. The man who entered my life two years ago with a loving family of daughters, grandsons, and dogs.

We’re on this adventure together. Creating value and enjoying the simple life.

Gaia calls. We’re on our way!

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Surfing the waves of change. Picture: pxfuel

Your Own Heroine’s Journey

This story finds her origin in a course I’ve been teaching. Authentic Storytelling for Women in Business. It is part of the Heroine’s Journey, given by iCanay. And joined by Cigdem Seftalioglu, Juliane Rossi, Julia, Patricia Romero-Abreu, Eda Carmikli, Primavera Salvá, Amber Joy Rava, Hannah Simmons, Amandine Roche, and some other amazing women not on Medium (yet).

We are all heroines in our own right. Our stories matter! When we embrace our daring, learn some storytelling skills, and get out there, our stories might change the world.

One step at a time. One story at a time.

We need new narratives to heal our broken world. And I’m glad to see that many women are finding their voices and are daring to contribute to a new world. With words, with images, and with films. Creativity sparkles!

We need these new narratives for a compassionate world where people from all walks of life are connected. A world in which we cherish humans and all other species. In which we honor Gaia. Because we realize we are all one.

Life is all that matters.

And stories help us create a healed world full of love and life. Not all humans are imaginative enough at this moment. But we can unleash that imagination in ourselves and in others. And we can take practical steps in our own personal lives to make the dream a reality.

We wrote our stories based on the hero’s journey by Joseph Campbell, corrected with some very important insights from Screencraft, Heather Jo Flores, and my own storyteller experience.

Diversity rules! No stereotyping.

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Image based on Wikipedia, adapted by author.

The stories can be used in innovative ways to find funding for our projects, create waves for our businesses, and build an audience for our products and services.

Will you join us? Will you write your Heroine’s Journey and create a wave of change? Please tag me in your story. I’m really curious to get to know you and your diverse, world-changing projects and businesses!

Happy storytelling!

Written by

Curious about life. Systemic, upstream solutions. Aligning economy, ecology, and the human spirit. Free spirit. ✽

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