Digging Deep

by Sonja van den Bosch

Digging Deep


‘Life isn’t as serious as the mind makes it out to be.’
– Eckhart Tolle.

This is a story about turmoil, fear and self-doubt. It is a story about digging deep, and digging deeper. It is also a story about celebrating, feeling at peace, and letting life flow. Ultimately, it is a story about growth. No, I am not talking about financial or business growth, but something far more important – internal growth.

The turning point

Let’s back track to 2008. In July my twin boys turned 1, which we celebrated with a massive party. I baked 10 different types of cakes, both savoury and sweet, all made from scratch of course. Don’t ask me why. My 1-year old twins didn’t even eat cake at the time, but of course everything had to be perfect! This was a once in a lifetime occasion!

After this milestone, I slowly started to crumble…leading a worldwide marketing team, looking after twin babies and trying to keep up a busy social life was starting to take a toll and I learned that Superwoman simply doesn’t exist. The candle had been burned on both ends for far too long and I knew I needed to do something that would give me better work-life balance.

Little did I realise at the time that the biggest problem was not my environment, but my attitude and my nature to over-effort – hold on to that thought.

Natural boundaries

With much gusto I founded Twinlife Marketing in Feb 2009 and to this day I am grateful for my twin boys who I simply couldn’t ignore during my time off. I had no choice but to make this business work within 3 short days a week, whereas I could have easily fallen into the trap of going for it 24/7.

Instead, I focused my dedication on exploring and finding that work-life balance. I swapped my intense gym routine for a balanced yoga practice, started to meditate, go on retreats and spent more time in nature and being silent. I was a dream for my teachers as I was keen, eager to learn and always willing to put the effort in to improve. I was looking after myself (and I was proud of it) and sharing it within our business – wellness education has always a big part of what we offer to our team, as I knew how much it had positively changed my life.

What do you really want?

Why then was I feeling a bit empty, low in energy and not that excited anymore at the end of 2017? Had I lost my sparkle? And how could I find it again? What was I doing wrong? Or was this just what life was meant to be like? Was 9 years of Twinlife Marketing enough and was it time for me to move on to something else?

In the beginning of 2018 I made the conscious decision to start digging deep, to honour everything that I would encounter and to try and find the answer to the vital question:

WHAT DO YOU REALLY WANT?

No, not what your ego wants, or society, or your family wants. But what does your true self, your innermost being, your spirit want? Without attachment to the outcome and without a deadline or a plan of attack (which was extremely hard for me, as that is how I’ve always tackled almost everything in life), without judgement and without outside influences. I knew that this was going to be my own internal journey and I had no idea how it would go, how long it would take and how it would end. It was scary to let go of control and just go with the commitment of digging into the deepness.

It hasn’t been easy. It has created a whole lot of turmoil and resistance and it is has stretched me in every possible way, however as with everything – what is painful in the beginning, and messy in the middle, there is sweetness in the end.

You can only give to others…

The first thing I worked on was my diet. Although I was eating very healthy, I felt that I was lacking energy. With the help of an amazing naturopath/healer, I learned that I was eating too clean and too lean – how is that possible? It was linked to my tendency to over-effort (here we go again) and I was not doing my body any favours. My ‘healthy’ eating was depriving my body of vital energy.

I needed to start eating more energising, warm, soft and colourful foods, drink more red wine and get back into the habit of truly savouring and enjoying meals. I was pleasantly surprised by this advice. Was it really this simple? This definitely would not cost me too much effort, in fact I already knew I was going to enjoy this and then I was also rewarded in the end? I had to get my head around this. It took me about 5 months to get my energy back up and I am feeling really good. The emptiness is gone and has been replaced by more vitality and strength. It taught me that life is about abundance and not about deprivation and naturally you can only give to others when you are ‘full’ yourself.

Finding the midway

Of course, this process uncovered far more than healthy eating habits. It was about learning to find the midway, to do less more graciously, be ok with that and truly enjoy every moment, instead of constantly living in the future and trying to do more and more.

It is interesting that most of us are either on the over-efforting side (future-oriented) or on the lethargic side (past-oriented), whereas THE place to be is in the middle, calm and relaxed with a steady mind, being fully present in the now. Being aware of this and consciously slowing down has helped me move closer to the middle. I am using my breath as my guide. When my breath becomes short and shallow, I know I am moving towards the over-efforting side. I can tell you that the midway is a far more pleasant place to be, with a lot less stress and worry. I am nowhere near perfect and I still mess up many times. But that is ok, as the balance is getting better and better every day. I am slowly learning to hurry slowly.

Quality, simplicity & intention

It realised that I love quality versus quantity and that I am really happy with a boutique business that is selective in choosing clients, consultants and partners we work with. It also made me realise that you simple cannot force relationships, that relationships are always in motion and most importantly that we are all trying to do our best.

It learned that I love simplicity, both in business and in life. When things become complex, they become difficult and exhausting and it is a trap that we can fall into quite easily when running a business. I also started to enjoy the simple things in life so much more, seeing the sun rise, watching the waves break, walking barefoot through the sand and even spending time in silence. Gone is our overstretched social calendar, we are doing less, but doing it better.

I rediscovered that working with a bunch of great people trying to do great things, no matter what the outcome is, is really fun and exciting and gives a great amount of positive energy. And back comes the inner sparkle.

Inner peace & contentment

In the end, it all comes down to finding and keeping inner peace. It is about feeling content, grounded and ok in the inside, every moment, no matter what is happening on the outside. Finding that place within that is stable and unchangeable. Of course, feelings will come up, that is part of being human, however understanding that they are just feelings, that they are not you and that you are just witnessing them helps a great deal in acceptance and letting go, which brings about inner peace.

Let’s start the conversation

It took me a while to find the courage to openly talk about this with my business peers. Would I be accepted? Would they think I am weird? Would they laugh at me? However, the total opposite happened. The more I started talking to people about my inner questioning, my learnings and going deeper than the superficial work-life balance, the more I started to really connect with people and the more meaningful conversations I started to have around this topic.

I learned that I am not alone and that we are all looking for that place of inner peace and inner contentment, no matter what we do.
Feel free to reach out to me if you would like to hear more or share your experience.

Although it feels like I’ve climbed a big mountain this year, I know it is not over yet, and I doubt it ever will be, there is more digging to be done, which is very exciting and a bit scary at the same time. What will happen next, I don’t know. We’ll just wait and see. I’ll just keep practising and let it all unfold, taking it one step at a time, day by day, moment by moment.

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20 Comments

  1. Hanna Gammon says:

    Well done and thank you for sharing!

  2. Thank you Hanna!

  3. Wow Sonja
    You have finally let your spleen slow down. The meaning of splenic- to be over focused almost or to the point of being anal. The inability to let go.

    We can all tend to push against energy and when we do we lose our way.

    That’s correct relax and enjoy the ride.
    Don’t be over focused to the point of stressing out (spleen) and don’t be so lethargic to the point of depression (liver)
    Find your balance between the two and enjoy that calm focus or you could say relaxed confidence. Only then can we feel ourselves our deep inner state

    You are a true shining light. And as a business woman trustworthy and honest.

  4. Great lesson/s Sonja
    Brave and kind to share, Thank you
    Something there for us all to learn x

  5. Anne Farrell says:

    Great post and beautifully expressed Sonja! Your search certainly resonates with me, and you’re right to say it is an ongoing process. I hope to see you again soon dear friend!

  6. James Cowley says:

    Great article as always Sonja. Some struggle with energy and motivation in their 30-40s and never realise that it’s not that they are less motivated humans, but they are instead less motivated by the things that they used to be motivated by, and then not making that mental adjustment and accepting the change.

    They find that the finer things in life (the things that bring simplicity and inner harmony) are where their eye is being drawn to and don’t realise that this is ok, and that these are things to focus on and be motivated by. The demotivation often happens when looking back and questioning why they’re no longer motivated to achieve the same x,y,z goals they did in their 20’s and feeling guilty about that. This transition can be hard.

    The old me would be motivated to scale the mountain as quickly as possible and see the view from the top before descending again; the new me appreciates what a natural wonder the mountain is from the ground and enjoys the experience and learnings from scaling the mountain before soaking in the peaceful surroundings at the top.

    What do I want? I’ll let you know once I’ve had time to reflect at the top of that mountain, but a glass of red and some meditation sounds like a good start!

  7. It only took me 10 years Natalie! I still remember my first yoga class where I was fortunate enough to have you as a teacher. You introduced me to uddiyana bandha and proper breathing and it all unfolded from there. You’ve been such a great inspiration and support on this journey. I’ve heard you talk many times about the spleen and liver energy, however to really get it, to feel it inside your body without forcing it takes time. That is a great lesson in itself!

  8. Thank you Sally! Not as brave as writing a book like you did, however I am happy I did it.

  9. Hi Anne, so great to hear that the post resonates with you. Let’s definitely catch up in the New Year!

  10. Love your mountain analogy James! you are so right about the changing perspectives as we mature, which is exciting as it means that life keeps getting richer. Keep meditating and enjoying the journey and let’s catch up for a nice glass of red in the New Year.

  11. Viola Kunst says:

    Mooi! Still following your blogs 🙂 It’s exactly 9 years ago that I visited you in Sydney and we had the conversations on your new life..what a journey…Thanks for sharing, I am still digging and this inspires me to dig deeper!

  12. Great to hear from you Viola! How time flies. Keep up the digging in the Netherlands and let me know what you’ll find 🙂

  13. Anke says:

    Mooi Son, ik mis onze gesprekken wel hoor met een grote pot thee erbij! 😘

  14. Ik spreek je snel Anke!

  15. Gina says:

    Thank you Sonja. It’s very brave and giving to share such intimate details and help others who may be struggling. Always and ever evolving!

  16. Thank you for your kind words Gina! We are all in the same boat 🙂

  17. Joanne says:

    Thanks to you, I am beginning to enjoy the ride of life once more. Forever grateful x

  18. Very grateful to have you on this crazy journey called Life Joanne!

  19. Karen says:

    Thank you for your courage to share. Balance is so important and yet so illusive. Your message is a great inspiration as I set goals for 2019

  20. Thank you Karen, good luck setting your goals for 2019!

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