Thursday, 26 June 2014

Happy Outfit: Esmeralda

One of the most awesome festivals of the year is coming up: Castlefest!
Castlefest is a pagan, hippy and fantasy festival held every first weekend of August in Kasteel de Keukenhof in Lisse, the Netherlands. I've been going there since the first one was held when I was 13 and I've never skipped one. It's customary to make or buy some kind of costume; be it pagan or fantasy related. I really like making costumes and I've been making them for Castlefest and other festivals for years and years.
 My costumes are usually elaborate, featuring hoopskirts or wings, or both. They're not very easy to move in so I'm mostly just posing for the photographers (there are a LOT!).

However, Castlefest is a festival with such an amazing ambiance that after last year I've really wanted something to be able to move and breathe in, and something that would allow me to dance to the music played there by the numerous folk bands and to walk around, eat delicious organic food and just celebrate.

However, I still wanted a special outfit of some kind. My boyfriend asked me a couple of times if I could cosplay Esmeralda from the Hunchback of the Notre Dame (I did a cosplay of Cinderella and Prince Charming with him in April), and I thought Esmeralda's outfit to be perfect for a festival like Castlefest.

Today I went out to hunt for second hand clothing that I might be able to use for the costume and boy, did I find loads!

At the Waterlooplein-market in Amsterdam there's stands with just heaps of secondhand clothing for only €1,- each. 90% of it is utter crap. I was searching for a white gypsy crop top with big puff sleeves and a light purple maxi skirt or something to turn into a maxi skirt - I found a maxi dress in a suitable colour so I didn't really think or look at it carefully - just took it out of the heap and paid for it.
I found a crop top too. It just needs a wider neckline and buttons at the front!

However, when I took out the maxi dress when I got home and tried it on to see how the fit was like, I saw this when I looked into the mirror:

Oh my god! Look at that fit and colour! Stunning!


No way I'm going to cut that into pieces! Absolutely beautiful, and that only for 1 euro! I'll just have to find a way to hide the rest of the dress under the crop top and corset then.. ;)

I tried to make a quick Esmeralda-inspired and wearable outfit. I used the crop top I bought too - I still have to adapt it but it looks nice like this too doesn't it? I have a wig too but it needs styling so I'm not wearing it here.

I added the green scarf to incorporate a bit of the green of the corset she is wearing. I ordered a corset but it hasn't arrived yet so I could not wear it either. However, I still think this looks nice and I'll probably wear it out some time soon!

I'll post pictures when the costume is done!



In order to discover my newly found pagan roots I really wanted to experience a Pagan celebration. Since Litha (midsummer) took place last Saturday I made a small altar in my house and decorated it with candles, incense and yellow flowers (to symbolize the sun).
I planned to celebrate Litha on my own and just wanted to go to a nice quiet green spot nearby. I read a book about Paganism and felt myself most attracted to solitary eclectic paganism - in other words, solitary paganism where you don't follow a specific path but try to discover what traits from other paths work best for you and combine them.
However, on Saturday night I discovered that Levensdans was organising a group ceremony and celebration. I only knew one person who was going there but I decided to crawl out of my shell and go there anyway! I'm so happy I did! It was absolutely beautiful.

The pictures below were made by Levensdans and I don't want to claim any credit for them! But they might give you a bit of a clue what we did that afternoon.

We started the ceremony with a prayer to Mother Earth. Nearly all pagans believe in a divinity of some kind - be it a goddess, or a goddess and god or pantheism, animism, there are many different varieties. I've never really been comfortable with a God so I am still trying to decide what fits me best. I do like the idea of Mother Earth - the earth like a mother who feeds and nourishes us all.

After a bit of meditating we did a 'hakka', which is a traditional Maori power dance. It really felt good to loosen my hair a bit and just go with the flow! You can see me in the middle wearing my vintage sunflower dress. I wore it because I thought it to be appropriate to wear sun-themed clothing on a Midsummer celebration.

After the Hakka we had a lunch break. Levensdans asked us to bring our own food so I made a  vegan quinoa salad with spinach and orange (orange, for the sun!). I might make it again sometime and post the recipe, I think it turned out really well! The other people brought some delicious food as well.

After lunch we did a meditation session, another hakka and then a drum circle! I think I liked the drum circle best - make music and dance all your sorrows away! I really must have one of those amazing handmade traditional drums. I could feel it resonating through my entire body.

And of course, time to dance!

Afterwards I sat by myself for a while and suddenly couldn't constrain my emotions. Two lovely people offered to do a personal chant for me. We went to a quiet part of the field and it was absolutely beautiful and very relaxing. It almost took me in some kind of trance. I don't have any pictures of it unfortunately. Then finally, I borrowed one of the drums and just went slamming it like crazy and yelling - an awesome way to exclamate the emotions that kept coming up. I have the tendency to hide my negative emotions and don't talk about them because it makes me feel better and deal with them better if I don't; but sometimes it's good to just let them all go!

I have been glowing for days afterwards. It was a pity that I still had a lot of studying to do as I had my last exams this week (which is also why I didn't write this post earlier!).
I really want to thank everyone who was there. The ceremony was magical and I am very inspired and full of ideas to try out regarding my own 'paganism' and I will be cherishing this memory for as long as I can remember it!


Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Some thoughts

This is a post that's somewhat different from the others that I've posted so far. For one, it only contains one picture. And for two, it's not focusing on simple things that make me happy, but about a sort of revelation I had when writing my last post. And it's about spirituality, something I've said earlier I would not write about.
Plus.. it's very long. I will probably also receive some nasty comments on this, knowing some of my friends and family.

I was raised in an atheist family that's (however very intelligent) mostly typically Dutch, sceptic, loud and a bit blunt. Even though I'm usually more of a silent, inwards drawn person I love all of them very much. However, due to this environment I've also always been very atheist and sceptic - I respect religion and spirituality but it was never for me. I'm still not able to believe in a God of some kind and I don't want to hatch myself to a specific religion because there would always be something that I would disagree about. I don't want to follow anything I disagree with. If religion works for you, I won't judge you. However, it's just not for me.

I have always been very interested in stories, fairytales, myths and legends and I've been intensely studying them for years. My specialities are ancient Greek/Roman mythology, Celtic mythology and Scandinavian mythology, although I really like classic fairytales as well, out of which I draw much inspiration for my paintings and my everyday life.  I also know a lot about the great monotheistic beliefs of today (most about Christianity), and their origins.
One other thing that I've been interested in since I can remember, is nature. I remember wanting to be a marine biologist when I was a little kid - instead of watching Dragonball Z and Cow & Chicken I watched documentaries about sea life and I drew literally thousands of fish and dolphins. I refused to eat fish because I was attached to them and didn't like the taste (and I still don't). The love for nature is something I share with my family as well. My uncle works with and studies birds, my grandpa is an archaeologist and my grandma worked with Natuurmonumenten and Duinbehoud, which are Dutch foundations for the preservation of nature. She taught me names of all the plants and animals in the garden. We often went for long walks or went camping in the woods and we hiked in the mountains.

When typing my last post I realised that I still feel a deep connection to nature, which is something my sceptic mind can't explain. Being in the woods or in a grassy field calms me down and makes me feel utterly free and in harmony with myself, and I always feel impressed when I realise the variety, complexity and beauty of the ecosystems around me. It's not something I would attribute to a god (I'm still a firm believer of Darwin's theory) but nature is an amazing 'machine' - with every detail fitting in and able to adapt to different circumstances, always improving itself along the way. Even the city is a habitat for an enormous amount of grasses and plants between the pavement and so many different birds, small animals and insects who thrive. I feel a bit emotional writing about this!! I also realized that this love for nature already manifests in wearing floral prints all the time! I have a ridiculous amount of floral dresses.

The second part of my 'revelation' is about a friend of mine on facebook. I met him years ago and I don't really have that much contact with him anymore but I do follow his activities with great interest. You could call me a bit of a creeper there! This friend of mine (whom I will not name, but some will probably guess who it is), is a pagan and very much involved in spiritual healings, blessings and he gives workshops and organises spiritual travels with his wife, with whom he had a traditional handfasting ('wedding'). The Pagan religion is all about nature and inner spirituality. My facebook acquaintance recently had a baby girl and he posted some pictures of the baby blessing ceremony he held last Sunday - and they almost looked magical, out there in the fields. I admitted myself being jealous of how truly happy and harmonious they looked. I wish I could've had enough contact with him to have received an invitation because I would have loved to be there.

Now, back to my past..
I strongly associate my depression with discord and being trapped.  For a long time, this was literally the case. Due to clashes with some family members I locked myself up in my bedroom and avoided them as much as possible for years. I got bullied and talked about at school so I never really felt at home there either, and there was (in my mind) no way to get out of my situation - feeling trapped, both at school and at home.
Ihis manifested in trying to escape into my drawings, paintings and books. I also had the tendency to desperately fall in love with every boy of around my age who was nice to me.. thus drawing away all of my friends with my obsessive behaviour. I felt extremely lonely and I tried to conceal my violent emotions to others, especially my family. I drew myself back into my dark bedroom and kept my mouth shut about it to my family, even if it meant that I had to lie about things. I am not proud of that. I had the occasional emotional outburst out to my group of (internet) friends, who repeatedly told me I should stop complaining and ranting. So I felt guilty about that. Etc etc. It was a vicious circle that I could not get out of.

When I am outside in a forest or a field surrounded by plants, insects, birds and animals, I realize I feel exactly the opposite from being depressed. Instead of feeling trapped, panicky lonely and small, I feel big and free of guilt and in harmony with myself and the world around me - which is the person I would like to be. I feel home. I am never lonely because there is so much life around me.

Therefore I have decided to dabble a bit into paganism in the near future. I know a bit about paganism but have always shunned the spiritual aspect of it, which is why I've never really delved myself into it, as spirituality is such a huge part of being pagan. I will keep my mind open as much as I can and I want to figure out what works for me and what doesn't. If I can, I will try to follow workshops and spiritual healings in the future and perhaps post about that. I hope you don't mind. :)

I also want to thank my facebook friend for this and I hope he reads it! I feel quite emotional now but also liberated :)



Monday, 16 June 2014

Utrechtse Heuvelrug

About a week ago I went to the national park Utrechtse Heuvelrug with my boyfriend and our cameras. He lives in the nearby city Utrecht so it was close to home. I really like long walks in nature (even if we don't have that much of it in the Netherlands) because it's calming and relaxing. My family is much involved in nature and biology - my uncle works with birds and my grandparents live in the middle of the woods and enjoy their peace very much. Since I was interested in it from a very young age I know a lot about different kinds of plants, their (healing or nutritional) properties and animals.

To start with - it is the season of flowers! Here are a couple:

Blooming blackberry



Wild rose with bumblebee

Green is my favorite colour. There are so many shades of them in the forest! In the morning it was really lovely weather.

Sun shining through the leaves of the beech tree.

The forest was really, really beautiful. The diversity of plants and animals amazes me every time.

Mossy tree stump with a fern growing out of it.

Forests, and even trees, are amazing eco systems. There are millions of animals, plants, fungi, moss and algae living under, in and on a living tree, most of them help to keep it healthy. If it dies, like the tree above, other living beings profit from it as well, like these beautiful fungi. Can you see the holes made by woodpeckers?

My boyfriend took this picture of me under an amazing red beech. 

Look at all these different shades!

In the afternoon the weather started to get bad. But before we left we could not resist taking some pictures of these grassy fields.

Surprise! It's not just grass, even though I really like the blooming grass as well.

Pretty flowers. The yellow ones are called hawkbits and they're very common in the Netherlands.

Nature makes me happy!

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Happy Outfit: Birds in Paradise

Hi everyone!

Another Happy Outfit post here!
For the new people, here's a short explanation of Happy Outfits.
Happy outfits are my own invention. When I moved out with my parents (and the day I started to make progress in getting 'better', I promised myself one thing: every day, after I get dressed, I have to look in the mirror and smile. If my outfit doesn't make me smile, it's not a good outfit. It's amazing how wearing happy clothing affects my mood and I wouldn't ever want anything else! It's probably the best thing I could have done in regards to try and turn around my depression. Flowers make me happy, and animals too. I like bright colours as well so my closet slowly started to fill with bright floral dresses and all the colours of the rainbow, and I threw my old black 'punk' clothes in the bin. Nothing wrong with punk (if it makes you happy, wear it!) but to me it was associated with my past and my misery, the very thing I was trying to uplift.
Wearing Happy Outfits is a very simple thing to do. I like outrageous and colourful clothing, but of course it doesn't have to be that way. Wear whatever makes you truly happy and make it a rule for yourself! It's still the best decision I have made in the process of turning the tide.

Todays happy outfit looks like this!

I was at my moms house today and she gave me a cardigan! I like the length, it matches perfectly with my skater dresses and vintage dresses! She made the flower decorations herself. Sewing on appliques is a great way to spice up old clothing!

The skater dress underneath is by Black Milk Clothing. I own a few of their dresses (I love their bright prints!) but I think this one is my favorite. The colours are so amazingly bright and the print is really sharp! The petticoat is by a lingerie brand called Starline Lingerie. My shoes are limited edition Wizard of Oz 'ruby slippers' by Harrods!

I didn't wear much makeup today. I wanted to give my skin a bit of a rest. I only coloured my eyebrows with 2AM by Sugarpill and I'm wearing Sleek Matte Me lipstick in Party Pink. The necklace was gifted to me by my aunt years ago.

I hope this outfit makes you as happy as it does me!