Recap Of A Monster Of A Year (RECAP 2020)

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A year that has globally shook up the world, yet at the same time has been a grand eye-opener. A year which has moved plenty of people, including me, back to the drawing board. I’m taking the time to reflect and share a couple of the fruits of which my tree of 2020 has provided. 

So,

Another night behind my laptop with raging fingertips flying over my keyboard. I reckon it’s no surprise it’s been a while since I last posted a blog. Inconsistency is the only consistence. But, I felt the inclination and inspiration to write one about this monster of a year.

Dear uncle Chip inspired me with some powerful questions in a community call earlier this week. The questions led towards thoughts, to inspiration, to some good chats with my parents, to more inspiration, to a lot of writing (and coffee) and eventually to you reading this. Hi, welcome and thanks for your curiosity — where it all starts

Let’s start with a little reflection. Being open and transparent on the internet, I don’t always love it. But fuck it. Why not? It’s the only way I’m going to get this one sided communication a little personal and hopefully get you to reach out — yes, I’m serious. Thank you. Because, also I am lonely in this pandemic : ‘( 

Contents:
The land of tequila
But, what’s next?
Taking a big turn
Time to make a buck
Let’s hit the road, Jack
Takeaways:
Commitment and freedom go hand in hand
The power of community
Prioritising lifestyle 
Always keep exploring and experimenting 

Here we go.

California, USA, January 1, 2020. As I open my eyes I’m still a little tired, but baffled from last nights revelations. Mushrooms. They had me pouring my eyes out after a whole stream of crazy insights, epiphanies, dots connecting, and some good ‘ol confusion. My ex girlfriend and I thought it’d be a great idea to seek some wisdom for closing off the previous year — and welcoming a new year. Well, we found it. Result: emotionally drained, but content, calm and peaceful. 

The land of tequila 
A week later we took off to Mexico to see my best friend Pablo getting married. Yes, the sexiest Mexican man on the planet today is taken. Not only we were invited, but also my parents and my sister. A family reunion on the wedding of my best friends in Mexico. How lovely? Pablo was happy. I was happy. Also, I was Pablo’s best man. But, unfortunately not hís man (it was just a dream). Also, Pablo was a noticeably  disappointed in his panda brother (that’s me), because I didn’t spend the last night with him when he asked me to.. I honestly actually did let him down there. How dare I do such a thing!? It was for good reason, because I only had one night left to practise my Spanish speech. And, not completely unimportant, I don’t speak Spanish. The speech turned out to be really fun, I used no sheet (a little pat on the back, please) and Pablo loved me again. Tequila flowed in abundance. Everyone danced and smiled. And(!), last but definitely not least: Pablo and Malou kissed. 

Pablo and Malou are living happily ever after, people returned to their homes with a headache and we took off to soak up some more vitamine D, catch waves and explore the south shore of Oaxaca. 

But, what’s next?

Now, as if the mushrooms and my confession of my feelings for Pablo aren’t vulnerable enough, let’s add another scoop. We’re flowing!

2019 was an epic year. Living in Hawai’i, I fell (face first) in love with an angel from Hawai’i, a beautiful winter trip around the rockies in Canada, 4 months of travelling Europe, India and South- East Asia, I got my motorcycle licence and boating licence, 200hr yoga teacher training, did a Muay Thai camp and many more amazing events. Pretty much smashed the bucket list if I had one. But, for some reason, by the end of the year I felt really unsettled. Why? Because I was floating and wandering. And this discomfort stirred me up massively. A restless heart, wandering spirit and unease in my feet, like a constant tickle to “keep things moving”. I didn’t know how to put the puzzle together anymore. How to make ends meet. And it stressed me the fuck out.

Taking a big turn 
So, against all the odds, I flew home. I flew back to Holland by the end of January 2020. By myself.  I cut off the lines from the parachute under which I was floating around, but which was keeping me from falling to shit. It was a free fall straight back into the room I grew up at my parents house. And it hurt. We broke up the relationship. I felt bad, guilty, lost and confused. Coming back to the ‘real’ world is what some people would call it. I’d argue. Anyways, I felt not so great. Meanwhile the not so unfamiliar COVID-19 entered our lives. Do I need to say more? In no time everything felt so far away as if I had woken up in the arms of a dream so beautiful, I was desperate to go back to sleep. 

But, perhaps this free fall is what I needed to get my feet back on the ground. In my heart I new, otherwise I’d probably not have made that decision. I learnt that not having a stable base (in whatever form) gets you somewhere up in the air, making you float around not really knowing what to do. Especially coming home from this trip had shown me the importance of processing certain experiences and events. I heard a great analogy the other day in the call I was talking about earlier. Dave said “having a stable ground helps you to dodge obstacles and challenges thrown at you, but when that stable ground isn’t present it’s really easy to be thrown off balance”. Again, a stable ground in any form or shape, whatever rocks the boat — or rather doesn’t rock it… 

It took some desperate months to figure out what was next. Which involved trying to start a T-shirt business (that didn’t get beyond the point of a couple of samples), wrecking my car, unsuccessfully trying to find new hobbies that would be suitable for in the Netherlands, building this website, picking up a couple of courses (which, thank God, actually worked out) and even getting rejected for a delivery job — of which I have no idea why I was so disappointed about it!

Time to make a buck
Clearly, it really was time to get back to work. After a hopeless interview to work on a surf camp for two popsticks and a chewing gum (as Bobby would say) I decided It’d be better to look elsewhere. This turned out to be a golden decision when I found out (through my dear friend) about a beach bar/restaurant in the hook of Holland, Pele Surf Shack, where pirates rule the kitchen. A beautiful fairytale-like Tiki place with amazing plant based food, a lovely, fun and crazy (“gezellig”, for the Dutch) team, an absolute nutter, but sweetheart of a chef and the most caring two owners. 

Not to forget to mention about the whales swimming around the harbour, the most vibrant coral reefs, fish with 3 eyes, a tropical climate year round, palm trees with the juiciest coconuts, waves barreling to the moon, water like heaven’s liquid and sand which feels like a silky carpet. Very lovely. I poured a lot of coffee into a small bowl with an ear which makes it look more decent for people to drink from and gently dumped some milk on top, shook a lot of things which makes people walk funny (and yes, also poured that into another strange holder) and said a lot of the same sentences, but with good intentions, to many different people. Yes, it was a great summer with a lot of sweat and a lot of laughter, joy and chaos.

Let’s hit the road, Jack 
It’s mid October and I had just gotten back from a spontaneous little trip to Spain, with the intention to get back to work to put some extra savings in the pocket. That plan fell through. The press conference announced stronger measures against the virus. All hospitality closed. There was no other option left. Of course, I had to text Bob (one of the pirates from the kitchen). This is how we went:

“Dude, everything closed! Portugal?”
“Yeh, cool” I received a minute later.
“Wait, ur actually serious?” I asked.
“Yah, why not!” He replied. 

That was all it took. No hesitation, re-thinking or ‘plan-making’. 

2 days later and my ordinary-family-station car looked like a freaking space ship from the 90’s with a roofbox, an improvised surf rack welded together by daddy MacGyver, a sunshield from an old campervan, a mattress in the back on top of the removed backseats, a drawer about as big as the size of the mattress and a massive back hang because of the weight of the heavy load. The boys went for the toys. From surfboards to snowboards, free dive fins to camera’s, skateboard to cooking equipment and boxing gear to foldable chairs. And, some clothes.

It took 2 months, a brother companion, and a loyal old whip to completely fill up the cup which felt so empty earlier in the year. Driving from country to country and coasts to mountains, surfed and rode all shapes and forms of boards. Gliding over water, concrete and snow. Watched world record waves break and roll onto the beach of Nazaré. Spent nights packed like 2 little sardines in the back of my car, which was surprisingly comfortable. But also, we spent a month in a lovely ocean view apartment and a fully equipped kitchen. We stuck around in the tail of Portugal with an insane group of marvellous people, leaving traces of laughter, joy and trouble. Connected with loads of wandering and stubborn — or, self affirmed — humans, sharing fresh and nourishing food while getting intoxicated of great sense of humour. Enjoying the most cliché things in life that make it worth living — friendships, joy and being present. Our last day on our way back in the French Alps was the icing of our adventurous cake. We hiked up the white capped mountain for a sunrise coffee on the summit followed up by a great run down, dog included. In the afternoon we went for a sunset session with a beautiful moonrise and a massive run down with one car parked on top and on the bottom of the mountain. All accompanied by great souls! 

I can’t finish this blog without a shout out to my incredible travel companion Bobbygun (in case he’s reading..). His name originates from his incredible (and his only) talent to surf a gun on any kind of waves: mushy, big, small, steep, fast and slow — for the readers who don’t surf, a gun is a surfboard shaped for big waves. Of course we had plenty of fights over who cooks, does the dishes, drives and who’s gotta be the big spoon in the tight car. We fought over who’s gotta holds the bowing pads and who’s in the kingsize and who’s on the couch — especially after all our fights. The best part? When Bob accused me for copying ‘his snowboard style’, while I’m convinced he’s copied mine. 

Anyways, here’s a little note for Mr. Bobbygun in case he’s reading: “Muito obrigado for the incredible time brother, make yourself proud (and not the world). When I drop the ball you don’t catch it, but surely made me laugh tears and bellyaches.”

Enough of the sweet stuff. Time to round this up.

After the call with Chip I started connecting dots and looking for the takeaways from this year. He started off with the importance of cleaning up the plates from this year. Like you wouldn’t serve a new meal on a used, dirty plate. That’s the analogy. 2020 left a messy pile of dishes behind. Before we start a fresh meal, it’s time to create some space first. 

So here’s some of my takeaways from this monster of a year: 

Commitment and freedom go hand in hand
One thing I’ve learned is that commitment and freedom the other side of the same coin. This has been the biggest takeaway, because the idea sounded so foreign, paradoxical and illogic before.

I used to believe that turning away from commitment gives freedom. I used to believe that if you don’t commit you’re free like a bird, right? But there’s something I was missing. Birds commit. Birds build nests, birds take off huge migrations annually, birds collect food daily, ect. Birds are free, not despite, but because they commit.

Commitment is the thing character is made out of.
Here’s some examples: the commitment of building a website gives me the freedom to write and to share, the commitment of beginning a study (orthomoleculair therapy) gives me the freedom to understand the the body and use it to my own advantage as well as to help others, the commitment of working my head off in summer as well as committing to take the leap gave me the freedom to go on a trip to Portugal and the commitment of flying home gave me the freedom knowing what I want and need. These things are all fairly superficial though. So, if you’re interested in exploring into this concept a little further I committed to writing an extending article about it. Which you can read here.

The power of community
spending time with people that you love, people that support each other and enjoying your time together. It’s the most cliché takeaway for I think many of us this year, but perhaps the most important one. Investing time into the people that you love and meeting people that make you feel joyfully alive, inevitably helps you to feel joyfully alive. 

Prioritising lifestyle
Prioritising lifestyle, health and social wellbeing is a big one. Being fixated merely on the achievement of goals or accomplishments will put you in a world that doesn’t exist but in our head — the future. 

Always keep exploring and experimenting 
Keeping the childlike spirit alive; it keeps you young. It helps you know what you want, like and what sparks your interest and fills up your cup. When you invest in the things that spark your interest and attention, you never know what passion one day might grow out of it.

Globally this year has massively shook up the world; being separated and/or loss of family members and friends, being isolated whilst living in a world governed by fear for our health and wellbeing, losing financial security and/or businesses and a massive piece of land burned to the ground down under.

At the same time, it’s been a year which has been eye-opening: it’s been a reminder of the importance of our loved ones, it’s encouraged us to question the world around us and our lifestyles, it’s globally moved us towards prioritising our health and wellbeing, it’s moved us to support our local business owners, shops and suppliers and has created awareness towards the impact we have on the environment. 

If there’s one takeaway from 2020 to stitch to your heart and take it into 2021, what would it be? 

Thank you for reading
Wishing you a grand 2021!  
Love. 

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What I share and write about only goes as far as I’ve expended my own mind, body and soul. You need to think about what is right and holds true for ya’self. I’m merely sharing what I’m seeing and experiencing through the lens of my eyes, shaped by my lessons, studies and experiences, along with the research and studies of professionals in the particular field. I’m here to share but have no means of taking others’ credit or claiming to provide you with ‘the truth’. 

Oh, and there will be some grammatical slips here and there. So here’s my apologies in advantage (that was a joke), but as long as I’m getting the point across I’m pretty stoked. 

I’m always open and interested to hear your perspective, even — or especially — if my content is not in alignment with yours. But more importantly, I’m here to reach out a hand — you can find me here, or you can visit the FAQ Page

*This article is written for educational and informational purposes only and not for medical advice. Always check in with your doctor for medical advice. You know the deal. And don’t forget to do your own research ;). 

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Renzo Kaashoek
About Renzo

We’re hiding behind fancy websites and a bunch of words and filters. I’d love to introduce myself with some stories to make the chaos on your screen a little more personal. Feel free to reach out and ask or say what you’ve got going on. See ya’ in the mailbox, on the road or, in da barrel.. 

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