Hey there! As usual, I haven’t been on here for a while (this tends to be my opening line for my posts), but this time I have a good reason. Let me just copy my facebook post here for you, pictures and all.
So. The time has come.
Today is Vera Jo’s introduction day at kindergarten.
Which means I now have two school-aged children in a way.
Which means I get to be alone for about 7 hours each week during working days. Plus the evenings.
(we tend to put our kids to bed ridiculously early. My idea.)
Which means… I GET TO CREATE AGAIN. Like, seriously. It was about time.
So, lovely people on my friends list, I am re-introducing myself to you as a “writer” and “maker of things”. With the emphasis on the second part.
I am ridiculously excited and also very nervous about it all.
And I am so so grateful to Nikos (who doesn’t even have a facebook to enjoy this), for having that loooong talk with me that night a month ago, that helped me realize that I can actually be “what I want to be when I grow up”. Cause I am all grown-up now.
So, here it goes…
Etsy shop: https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/Toverstuff
Youtube channel (Nikos said I need one. He is my business coach): https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCnhfzAUvOjSQuc8FNj_SVIw
It’s a learning process. Join the ride with me.
P.S.: August has been very generous with me. Along with officially registering my business as a freelance “maker of things”, I also got my NT2-II Dutch language diploma. Yay me! I can now be a Dutchie if we decide to fork the money for a Dutch passport one day.
P.S.2: Inner circle of friends and family who got those links above before everyone else: THANK YOU for being enthusiastic and supportive and not putting me down and taking me seriously.
All my love and gratitude
So, that’s that.
Do you want the backstage story of how we came to this? Here it goes.
So a few months ago I had an epiphany. I would become a teacher. At a Dutch school. Not being Dutch. Or speaking fluent Dutch. I know, right? What could possibly go wrong? I had it all thought out.
It would give me the push I needed to get my language diploma (as highly educated, I am required to go for the most difficult one, called NT2-II), I would get new energy from my studies and I could work the hours that my kids would be at school and have holidays the same days as them.
The Dutch Diploma
From all that, only the first was true. I needed the NT2 in order to be accepted at the study program I had found. It was an awesome program. Online, which meant I wouldn’t have to travel back and forth in Leiden or put my kids to daycare (where they’ve never been ever in their lives). And I could do it in 2 years instead of 4, because I have a Master’s from a Dutch university. So, according to my calculations, right at the time that Vera Jo would start school, I could start too. As a teacher! So I quickly signed up for the Dutch exams that took place at the end of July. It was June, I was on holidays in Greece and had exactly zero time to study. Luckily the three extra lessons I had with my former teacher and my superpower of never shutting up and being a chatter box with any unfortunate local Dutchie did the trick. I passed all four sections and am now the proud owner of the freaking diploma.
The Fantasy Festival
Then I went to a fantasy festival. How can this possible be relevant? Well, it very much is. Because it reminded me that THAT’S MY THING. Not being dressed as Mother of Dragons or being naked and spray-painted as a lake scenery necessarily. But the whole “fantasy” part. Which is NOT part of the regular school curriculum. It is very much part of the Waldorf school curriculum though (called Vrije School here in the Netherlands). So then I started wondering if I should wait a year to start my studies (had missed the deadline for the Waldorf education, it’s a different one and not available online). Or should I do the convenient, online thing and then do an extra seminar to move to Waldorf? (which would cost extra time and money of course).
Luckily I took my dilemma in my arms and gently presented it in a Mama Business Group. And THANK GOD two women started giving me a much more realistic image of what it means to be a teacher in the Netherlands at the moment. I mean, I knew there is a huge shortage and teachers are having burn outs all the time but I thought I have a thicker skin (having to deal with all sorts of crap, coming as a Greek expats in the Netherlands the time of the big financial crisis in Greece). But being underpaid, having teaching be only 40% of your work and the rest administration, having to work extra hours in the evenings and having to deal with parents, who apparently have crazy expectations doesn’t make for such an appealing package. Plus, even though I wouldn’t have to do entry exams for history and geography, because I am coming from higher education, I would still have to do self-study for those topics, to be able to pass my exams. Something that for all my Dutch classmates would be given knowledge. So those awesome ladies told me that it is only worth it if I have a real passion for children. Which I don’t. Sorry. My passion for children is limited to my kids (not all the time) and the ones of my close friends. I like kids. I find them cute and inspiring. But I can also find them very challenging and annoying. And being by myself in a class of 30? Yup. Nope.
So I was gutted. It was clear to me that I wanted to work, I also wanted to be present for my kids and I wanted to do something creative. Nikos sat me down and we had a long talk. The Talk. During which he asked me what fulfills me and the answer was “creating” and he said “then why don’t you do just that?”. Disclaimer: he has a job. A good one. He puts food on the table. I don’t “have” to work at the moment, when it comes to survival. Of course any extra income is welcome, but we make things work with one salary and are happy with our lifestyle. Still, there is something very fulfilling about having people who are willing to pay for your work. It’s about self-worth. Which shouldn’t be and it’s ridiculous, but that’s how capitalism conditions us, so there you have it.
Anyway, my plan was to write (I have many writing clients and 5 star reviews on freelance writing websites) and then to finance my creative endeavours with that writing money. And Nikos said -with his infinite wisdom, when it comes to the troubles of others- “every time you spend writing for a client is an hour you don’t spend creating”. He is so damn right! But then, what about money? It takes ages for a creative business to start making profit. But then again, the later you start, the more time will be lost. So I took the plunge.
With A Little Help From My Friends
I am such a lucky woman. I have a circle of friends who are incredibly supportive. Once I told them my plans, they immediately said “go for it / that’s who you are!/ it’s so YOU!/ you are going to make it” and other variations of these statements. No one said “but what about money?” or “aren’t you worried people won’t buy your stuff” or “do you feel confident enough?”. They were just downright supportive PLUS giving me valuable feedback and ideas. I shared my first videos and products with them and then I felt it was time to share with the world (aka Facebook). Another wave of love and support!
And then, a few days after I registered my business at the Dutch Chamber of Commerce, I went to an Amanda Palmer Concert. She is the genius behind “The Art of Asking” and you can head over to youtube to hear the long-winded explanation of why her concert was so important for me and helped me solidify my decision.
As you can imagine, I am in a very busy phase at the moment, creating products in the evenings, setting up social meeting whenever I can during the day, ordering packaging material and business cards and flyers and the like. But I wanted to take the time to update you, my mega-awesome loyal readers, who keep coming back even when I haven’t posted anything for ages (I see on the analytics. It’s crazy. I am so grateful for your presence here!). So if you want to keep in touch more and see what I am busy crafting, head over to facebook and like the Toverstuff page. Youtube subscribers and buys from the shop are of course greatly appreciated too 😀
Big hugs and thank you for reading this essay!