How it all began
I was raised in a safe, loving and peaceful environment. I was a sensitive and observant child. My parents told me I had a certain melancholy about me, a fear of doing things wrong. Indeed some memories that I have are connected to ongoing life lessons today; big themes as ‘not feeling good enough’ and ‘not feeling accepted’.
Animals were my life, my home, my safe haven; I grew up surrounded by them. Dogs, cats, a bird, bunnies, guinea pigs, ferrets. I was six years old when my parents allowed me to start horseback riding and horses changed my life. When a horse had issues or showed challenging behaviours, they’d call for me. Because somehow my presence and touch would calm them. Animals always used to find their way to me. It wasn’t something I felt different or special about. Being a child, things just are what they are. And it came naturally.
My teenage years were extremely challenging. I discovered that my way of being, my huge sense of justice, sensitivity, empathy and individuality were not the traits widely accepted in a teenage group culture and I developed distrust, a lack of confidence, a fear of failure and times of depression. Yet I was blessed with two major experiences, which shaped a major part of my later life.
My parents entrusted me with the responsibility for my own horse Rashamon. He in turn taught me about animals having their own individual needs, wishes and boundaries. So I learned to have patience, respect, understanding and to listen. Rashamon was my refuge during a time where I lost trust in people. With him I felt accepted for who I was.
Around the same time that Rashamon came into my life my parents took me on a Buddhist journey to Thailand. My view on life expanded there and I experienced that there is more to life than our five senses reveal. I felt a purpose, a truth, a belonging. Young and unaware at the time of who I was, I met like-minded people and felt accepted, again during a time where I had lost trust in people my own age.
After struggling my way through school and a very painful first relationship, I wanted to break free and decided to travel. With my support network on the other side of the world, and having to find my way through a party crowd of young adults as a very sensitive, distrusting soul, I had to learn to fend for myself. I went from shy and insecure on the inside to loud and angry on the outside. I resisted conformity, rules, being told what to do and the wall around my heart grew. Yet I loved traveling and fortunately didn’t lose sight of what I had always valued most in life; animals and nature. Even more so, coming from a cultivated little country like the Netherlands, I fell in love with the wilderness and the wild animals inhabiting it.
When I came back after a year abroad I found a university course that actually made me feel excited about what my future could hold. I started a Bachelor of Science in Wildlife Management. Although learning from books remained a challenge, my course was a stepping stone towards the life I wanted.
My heart has since guided the way to all 7 continents, working in research, conservation and education with wild whales and dolphins. Through a lot of heartache, limiting mind sets and beliefs, a lack of confidence, the constant monkey mind telling me “you don’t have anything to offer” and “no one will accept you for who you truly are”, my connection to the wild and love for the animals kept me going. I have been fortunate to experience incredible encounters with whales. They have showed up and connected during some of the most challenging times in my life. Whale therapy really is a true thing.
In turn I have used my voice to speak out against animal abuse, injustice, torture and negligence. I have educated and lectured about the plight and importance of the oceans and its inhabitants, I have taught about the lives and biology of whales and dolphins and about marine conservation issues. And I will continue doing so. Currently I am still working on small passenger ships leaving for the Arctic and Antarctica as a lecturer and wildlife naturalist. And throughout this journey I have met many like-minded, trustworthy people all standing together for the creation of a better world.
While feeling immensely grateful for the rich experiences and my time in the most beautiful, remote corners of our planet, there is more work to do. In our human world full of chaos, Planet Earth needs people reconnecting to nature again. Communication and connection with nature brings us back to the essence of life; becoming one with ourselves and everything else around us.
Unlike us, animals have never lost their connection with nature. They always communicate, between themselves, with their environment and also with us. They have a voice and they have things to say. I have always believed in people being able to communicate with animals, but I didn’t think I would be able to do it myself.
This changed when a few years back an Animal Communicator helped me find my precious cat Jip, who had been missing for a few days. As a fellow Marine Biologist with a scientifically oriented brain who never even believed in Animal Communication herself, this woman inspired me to follow my heart even further; to hold space for the animals to speak for themselves, with their own voice.
Finding Danielle MacKinnon as my teacher has been such an empowering journey. I believe my own personal evolution will always be a life-long process, it is for everyone. But the animals are supporting me to go deeper inside, every time a little further. And I feel honoured helping you and the animals in your life on this same journey. Every message for you is a message for me also. Because in the end we are all walking each other home.