From My Life to Yours presents her story, one filled with initiations, challenges, adversity, and magic. From an early age, Annemieke tried to make sense of this world and to find out who she is and why others can't see what she does. Her connection with the natural world became her guide. A musician from the age of nine, she traveled through the world with her harp and visited a wide variety of places. She finally settled far from her homeland of the Netherlands, in New Zealand, where she raised and homeschooled her three children on her own. Through both music and various healing modalities, Annemieke found ways to reach out to others and make this world a better place for all.
In this memoir, one woman shares her life journey in both music and healing, describing a challenging life worth living that calls forth love in those around her.
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|Publisher:||Balboa Press AU|
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.65(d)|
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I was born on the 19th of July 1968 at 8.35 am, one week before my due date, in the Netherlands, at home. The cord twisted around my neck meant I was a bit blue when I emerged. Otherwise all was well with me.
I don't have many memories of my early childhood, but I can remember often riding in the little bike seat on the back of my mother's bike, going to different shops. Most parents in Holland owned a play-pen for their young children, to keep them from going upstairs or suffering injury. A small 'cage' with some toys in it; I remember spending plenty of time in there. My mother told me I took my first steps at seventeen months, which was quite late. My early days revolved around the home and the preparation of food. Our house contained plenty of toys, and arts and crafts materials, and was busy with young children. The small backyard included some grass and a couple of trees. Our house was one of eighteen houses positioned in a horse-shoe shape, forming a communal area in the centre much like a mini park. The children of the neighbourhood gathered there to play ball games, and this is where I learnt to ride a bike. I played a lot with my brothers: Haiko, one and a half years older, and Arnoud, one and a half years younger. We got on well most of the time. My mother told me I was a shy baby and toddler, but I stood my ground with my brothers. I remember her as always busy and my father as mostly away at work.
I loved the holidays my parents took us on. Most of my childhood memories come from these experiences. We went hiking, skiing, camping, and I especially enjoyed the weeks we spent on the farm where I helped to milk the cows.
At 4 a.m. I would happily get up to milk the cows and clean their sleeping quarters while sloshing my wooden clogs through cow dung. I loved the smell of hay, corn, and the cows' breath. The cows were all numbered and, when they came into the milking shed, I had to look up their number on the blackboard. This would tell me how many times I had to pull the string to dislodge food into their feeder. I then rinsed their udder with a hose. To make sure the milk was clean, I squeezed a little bit out before I put the suction cups on the teats.
When the milk ran out, I turned off the suction and took the cups off. After a feel to see if the udder was completely empty, I sprayed the teats with disinfectant. When all six cows in the row were serviced, we let them out through a little gate and let the next six animals in. The apparatus accommodated two rows of six cows at the same time, and with about one hundred cows in total, milking took some time. All done, we hosed down the shed and rinsed the machine. Cows in Holland spent most of their life in the barn; they roamed in the paddock only one day per year when the shed was being cleaned.
I often played with the farmer's daughter, either in the hay shed where we dissected dead baby mice, or we had adventures in the forest while looking for chestnuts. I helped with as many chores as I could manage because it felt wonderful to be part of a team and to have real responsibilities, to feel useful and appreciated. In the early evening, I raked hay for the cows, so they could reach it.
The farmer and his wife were people I admired. Grandmother lived in a small apartment attached to the house, and she assisted with everything. At her old age, she still had a strong purpose. They'd planted flower and vegetable gardens, and they ran the farm as a smooth team. Their main meal consisted of a cooked lunch and, when I got to know them better, I often joined them for this repast. It felt good having time to digest the big meal properly and eating only a small meal at dinnertime.
The highlight of my stay on the farm was the newborn calves. This is where I saw the miracle of birth for the first time. To be honest, I wanted to remain at the farm. While we were there, I counted down each of the seven days and, on the last day, a big stone settled in my stomach because it was nearly time to leave.
Another amazing holiday we spent in a horse-drawn caravan travelling through Ireland. Adventurous and gypsy-like. I was about six years old, but I remember aspects of it well and I enjoyed it a lot.
Some winters, it was cold enough for the rivers and canals to freeze over. We would go ice-skating from village to village, that was fantastic.
Most winters we went on a skiing vacation in Austria or Switzerland. I learnt to ski from very young. I enjoyed the sun, snow and the excitement of being in a country with food that tasted unusual and where they spoke a language I couldn't understand. Over time I got to know their music, language and culture better and we attended some of their musical performances and dances. We changed from skiing to cross country skiing, which was slower paced and gave us more opportunity to take in the scenery.
Another very important thing my parents gave me was a musical education. My parents often listened to classical music and as a toddler, I would respond by dancing and moving to it. I learned to play the recorder from age six and played a lot on the piano in the living room. My brother was learning the piano, and therefore I wasn't allowed to have piano lessons because I was likely to learn faster and put my brother off the idea. Just as well, because I had wanted to play the harp since I was five. I hadn't heard the harp often, there weren't any harpists in our area and computers hadn't been invented. But I do remember hearing a harp at the school of music once and, deep down, I knew this was my instrument. However, with the recorder readily available, I learned to play it first. Soon, I became very good at it and I could read music well.
I didn't give up on playing the harp and, when I was nine, the big moment arrived; my parents had found me a harp teacher and a harp. The teacher lived in Amsterdam and had said she would only come to our village if six students attended her lessons. My parents took on the challenge, hung up notices in shops and found five other girls keen to learn the harp. We imported a harp from Japan, and my first lesson finally happened. I was thrilled. I remember the guineapig's noises and the smell of my mother's cooking as I was playing my new harp. I practised between six and six-thirty every night; dinner was ready at six-thirty precisely, served when my father came home from work. I received a caring, proper, protected upbringing, with church on Sundays, good meals at set times and regular nature walks. And materially, I never lacked for anything.
My father undertook some weekend work at a local rest home, and I started to perform musical interludes for the residents. Also, I played at our church. Whenever I played my harp, people smiled and thanked me, sometimes with tears in their eyes.
Harp lessons continued every week for the next ten years. During my training we mainly focussed on classical music and, during that time, three different teachers granted me the benefit of their skills.
Although I loved learning the harp, I didn't enjoy my monotonous school days with regular homework, and I was in that school system from age four until I was twenty-two-years old. Ouch. Frustrating memories of endlessly sitting on hard chairs. I became bored, rigid and disinterested in study. I couldn't understand why adults would create this environment for children, so restrictive with limited space for creativity, participation or real-life experiences. I became disillusioned about life. My life revolved around listening, studying, doing as I was told without question, and regurgitating learning for tests and exams. In my opinion, mainly useless information and traumatic for someone like myself. I did pass most tests, but only because of knowledge retained in my short-term memory, which I forgot as soon as the examination was over.
Neither did I like the doctor. I dreaded going there. I was often pale as a child and had low iron. I endured regular blood tests where they pierced the sensitive tips of my fingers until a few drops of blood would leak out. I was vaccinated too, and one day the doctor treated a wart under my foot by burning it off with something very hot. I remember arriving home with my foot bandaged up and blood oozing through the dressing. It felt like I was standing on a hot coal and I couldn't get away from it. I had my tonsils taken out at four years old because of constant sore throats. I went to the hospital for that small operation. I have the memory of a black mask that was put over my face to breathe in the gas that put me to sleep, and the pain in my mouth of the removed tonsils after I had come by.
When I was a little older, I developed thrush and I was examined several times down there as well. So embarrassing! For me, going to the doctor became the equivalent of submitting to torture.
I remember I hyperventilated at times. This started when I was younger and continued into my early twenties. During those moments I would suddenly feel as if I couldn't breathe, while I was anxiously gasping for air. They happened without warning and I thought I was dying when it happened.
I became excellent at day-dreaming during class ... staring at the parts of trees I could see waving in the wind ... while wasting away inside ... eagerly waiting for the bell to ring and set me free for the rest of the day. The teachers caught my interest occasionally, usually with a song. I'm someone who needs to experience life to get to know it, and reading academic texts provides no reference point for me. So sad. I didn't rebel. I sucked it up and relied on my dreaming to make up for reality.
Sunday school and church affected me the same way. It felt extremely unfair having to sit on hard benches again, forced to listen to people who didn't interest me in the slightest. At the dinner table, we had to listen to a Bible story before my mother served dinner, and my brothers and I had to finish the food put on our plate. As time went on I became more resentful, but I didn't know how to express it. I developed a sweet tooth and, for years, I secretly overate on cake, chips, biscuits, M&M's and chocolate. Often, I got tired, and I was sick regularly. When I was at teachers' training college, I was ill with glandular fever for several months.
I suffered from anxiety and unhappiness. It seemed as if a part of me was invisible to everyone. My soul. People were either afraid of their soul and would dispute any mention of it, or they had no idea it existed.
In our family everything was planned well ahead; a strong routine and a focus on being 'on time'. Feelings weren't talked about, and I certainly didn't feel comfortable expressing my true sentiments.
What the neighbours might think seemed to be paramount and influenced all events in our life. I was suffocating in the rational and controlled reality. I remember people telling me I was different from the rest of my family. The unexpressed feelings inside of me continued to build and, come my teenage years, they became quite a pressure.
I made friends with the family of the local priest. He and his wife had four very young children and needed some help. Their family was very different, with few rules and plenty of chaos. Heart energy abounded there, and I loved taking the little ones for outings. I developed a crush on the priest. As far as I know, he never discovered my secret. I was welcome at their house any time, and I was there often. Most of my earlier years I spent with Anne, a neighbour, and we stayed good friends well into teenage-hood. I was always at her house. Haiko was often there as well, hanging out with Anne's brother Martijn, and the four of us played many complicated card games.
Our house looked appealing, with all the woodwork my father did, and we had a cosy kitchen. When I was younger, my father made a play house under my bunk bed, and I remember playing endlessly with the wooden boat he made. I would line up many cars, push the boat towards them, let all the cars in, and take them to a different place in the living room to off load. My mother took her cooking duties seriously and provided a good, healthy meal every night. However, it appeared to be a chore that had to be done at exactly the right time rather than a task to enjoy. She was very busy taking care of Haiko, Arnoud and me. My parents were generous enough to look after extra children and even fostered some children after I'd left home.
Marian arrived in our family when I was about ten years old. A few years older than me, she was mentally handicapped and became my 'big sister'. She often visited us in the weekends. I learnt a lot from her uninhibited ways, and she brought plenty of silliness and laughter. A neighbour boy one year older than me, Jan Hein, often came with us on holidays. He was like another brother to me and we got on well.
I knew my two grandmothers. My father's mother enjoyed teaching us board games. We were happy when she came over because she knew how to make us feel special and gave us plenty of attention. She did a lot of knitting and charity work and she made the best tomato soup with mince balls. She died when I was nine, and I remember how sad I felt. Losing her left a deep hole in my life. My mother's mother was kind to me too. I regularly stayed over at her house. I don't remember so much about my time with her, it was more based around homely things. She had a large collection of turtle ornaments for example. She lived in an apartment building and I enjoyed going in the elevator to reach her house. She had a cookoo clock and every hour a little wooden cookoo would sing to remind us of the time.
My father's sister, Marian, was musical like me. She and her husband had four children. I enjoyed the family visits we had with them. My cousin Jolanda and I played monopoly endlessly, while chewing on Dutch liquorish. We had plenty of giggles.
Life for most people appeared to revolve around the holidays. Everyone worked hard or attended school and made plans for the next vacation, usually somewhere away from home in another country or place. It seemed as if people lived for their breaks and merely survived the long and stressful times between them. They didn't enjoy spending time at home during their time off, instead splurging a lot of money and effort to get away. They re-charged during the holiday and then returned to work and school again to dream about the next destination.
On the grass in front of our house, we often played sports. Haiko, Arnoud, several other boys from the neighbourhood and me. Running around and playing ball games released some of the pressure inside me. I loved the different sports and all the fun we had.
When I was eleven, I remember waking up to the miracle of a newborn baby in my parent's room. My mother had told me she was pregnant, and the magical feeling that something special was about to happen had been building. I remember staring at the beautiful infant for a long time. Harmen became the light of my life for many years. I spent endless hours with him and, when he was older, I took him to beaches, the forest and other places. I was his little mother.
I was thirteen when I was sent to summer camp for a week. Spending time with people I didn't know filled me with fear. I was so shy, I needed a lot of convincing. When I got there, it took me a few days to settle. I was homesick at first, but then I started to enjoy it. We sailed a lot and played games. I felt a strong connection with the leaders, I made new friends, and I found out more about my wild and crazy self. Afterwards, I didn't even want to return home because I would miss my new friends too much. From then on, I went to a summer camp every year, choosing the camps where we would be sailing all week. I loved the water and swimming.CHAPTER 2
In my teens, I remember saying to my mother, 'Don't people understand that everything not natural won't survive?' I don't think she knew what to do with such a statement. I must have been quite a challenge for my parents. My family judged me too gullible, for wrongly believing in souls, aura's and reincarnation, for being naïve and too sensitive. Sensitivity affected my ears too. A burden in a world full of loud noises. I couldn't watch any violent movies because I didn't have the ability to detach my feelings from the images shown, and the overwhelming sounds had a strong effect on me.
Everything that entered my senses I perceived as real. My mother told me I took everything literally as a child and, because my family thought it was funny to say the opposite of what they meant, I was often confused. My father had cause to cringe on one occasion when we were celebrating 'Sinterklaas'. I was about twelve at the time. Every year on December the fifth, we made presents for each other, and we added a poem and sometimes a joke. A few years earlier, someone had hidden instructions for finding their present inside a fake poo. I decided to repeat this joke. So, believing it was real, I did a poo in a potty and hid it upstairs for my father to find. I'd pushed a small note into the excrement with instructions detailing his present's hiding place. He did dig it out and managed to read it eventually ...(Continues…)
Excerpted from "From My Life to Yours"
Copyright © 2018 Annemieke Harmonie.
Excerpted by permission of Balboa Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 My Childhood, 1,
Chapter 2 Sinterklaas, 9,
Chapter 3 High School, 12,
Chapter 4 Moving out, 14,
Chapter 5 Poetry, 18,
Chapter 6 Departure, 23,
Chapter 7 Boat trip through the rain forest, 27,
Chapter 8 Siberut, 31,
Chapter 9 Travels continued, 38,
Chapter 10 Bali, 41,
Chapter 11 Timor, 44,
Chapter 12 Opal, 47,
Chapter 13 Melbourne, 50,
Chapter 14 Tasmania, 52,
Chapter 15 Apple picking, 56,
Chapter 16 Stowaway, 62,
Chapter 17 Lollipop girls in the desert, 65,
Chapter 18 Crystal enchantment, 70,
Chapter 19 Kamya, 75,
Chapter 20 Opera house, 78,
Chapter 21 Arrival in New Zealand, 82,
Chapter 22 Fletcher Bay, 85,
Chapter 23 Taupo, 88,
Chapter 24 Mother's visit, 91,
Chapter 25 Immigration, 95,
Chapter 26 Rat, 99,
Chapter 27 More music, 102,
Chapter 28 Father, 109,
Chapter 29 Wings, 112,
Chapter 30 Great Barrier Island, 116,
Chapter 31 My birthday, 124,
Chapter 32 Stranded whales, 128,
Chapter 33 Dolphin magic, 131,
Chapter 34 Island trouble, 135,
Chapter 35 Baby Possum, 138,
Chapter 36 Vision Quest, 141,
Chapter 37 Harp music in Ireland and a wedding, 144,
Chapter 38 Moving South, 147,
Chapter 39 Miro, 149,
Chapter 40 Aster, 152,
Chapter 41 Chickens, 157,
Chapter 42 Lisa, 161,
Chapter 43 Home schooling, 166,
Chapter 44 Australia, 169,
Chapter 45 Waikouaiti, 171,
Chapter 46 Travelling the country to find our next home, 179,
Chapter 47 Moving, 183,
Chapter 48 Visitors from Equador, 189,
Chapter 49 Observations, 196,
Chapter 50 Diary, 215,
Chapter 51 Challenges, 239,
Chapter 52 School, 245,
Chapter 53 Gallbladder trouble, 250,
Chapter 54 Convergence, 255,
Chapter 55 Sacred music, 258,
Chapter 56 Hanshi, 261,
Chapter 57 Our lives now, 263,
Chapter 58 Treatments, 268,
Chapter 59 Homeland, 271,
Chapter 60 Transformation, 277,
About the Author, 281,