Imagine this, it is a beautiful summer afternoon in June and I am sitting at the terrace of ‘Paul’s ijsboerderij’ (Paul’s ice cream farm) in Wijlre in the South of the Netherlands having a beautiful lunch with our Maastricht University friends, exchanging experiences and discussing the changes we’ve made to our lives over the last 12 months.
Last October my friend Danielle, made the decision to leave her stressful, high paid corporate job to give herself some space to think and get into something that she could be really passionate about. At that point in time she had no idea what that was, but she knew that she wanted to do something a bit more creative and meaningful. Danielle also wanted to enjoy her time with her 2 young boys and her husband more, instead of just rushing from one event to the next.
The thing that surprised Danielle most was how difficult the transition period was. ‘It was much harder than I expected to de-stress and get into the new flow. All of a sudden having nothing to do and trying to find a meaningful way to fill my days became quite stressful. It was hard to just go with it and accept that this was the process that I had to go through, without setting deadlines.’
Now Danielle is definitely in a much better space. The last few months she has been working at ‘Limburg Preuve’, a foundation that promotes pure and honest food produce from Limburg, the southern province of the Netherlands. In the beginning of September she organised the ‘Limburg Preuve’ festival, a food event at the grounds of Vaeshartelt castle. This event celebrates the construction of the taste gardens of Vaeshartelt with fruit trees, vegetables, spices and eatable flowers. The aim of the taste garden is for people to taste, walk, play and enjoy over and over again.
Limburg Preuve works together with Slow Food, which is a global, grassroots organisation with supporters in 150 countries around the world who are linking the pleasure of good food with a commitment to their community and the environment. A non-profit member-supported association, Slow Food was founded in 1989 to counter the rise of fast food and fast life, the disappearance of local food traditions and people’s dwindling interest in the food they eat, where it comes from, how it tastes and how our food choices affect the rest of the world.
Danielle truly believes in the Slow Food philosophy and is really enjoying what she is doing. Her inspiration is trying to get back to the basics and enjoy the simple things in life. In this modern world, we are pushed in so many different directions. When you walk into the city the shops are screaming at you: buy more clothes, buy more toys, but we already have too much. If we don’t know what to do on an afternoon with the kids, we think about activities like the cinema, amusement parks, playgrounds etc, whereas we don’t focus enough on just being together and enjoying each other’s company.
The same counts for food. We are told to eat ‘healthy’, extra vitamins, low-fat ready-made meals, and milk with extra calcium. But what about the simple basics: nice fruit or vegetables that you prepare yourself, like for example boiling potatoes???
Every day I am working on slow and meaningful living and it definitely is an ongoing process. I do understand that it is important to be part of society, but I also strongly believe that it is really important to not be pushed in directions you don’t feel good about. I am focusing on listening more to myself, doing less but enjoying it more and going back to basics.
I have a lot of respect for people like Danielle who step out of the rat race and try to create a more balanced environment for themselves. Danielle, I wish you all the best and I am already looking forward to our next lunch in the Netherlands sometime next year.