The Life Traveller - About Me
The Life Traveller - About Me
about me


The Life Traveller - About Me - Manon

WELCOME!

How wonderful that we have crossed paths.
My name is Manon Valesca Maria. I'm Dutch with a drop of Indonesian blood. The Life Traveller is established in 2014. I had this vision of creating an online relaxing place for positivity, spirituality, inspiration and mindfulness. A space where you can take a deep breath from the long way you have come. The Life Traveller is a meeting point, where other inspiring travel companions share their experiences. You can get some ‘take-away’ inspiration for the continuation of your journey and personal help is offered to get going, when it’s unclear which direction to go. I also share some of my daily adventures. Motherhood is a huge part of that. The Life Traveller travels light and follows the light on its journey into eternity. Have a magical trip. Thank you for stopping by. Feel free to follow my trace!

MORE ABOUT ME

I have had work experience for more than sixteen years in the field of Dutch magazines as a fashion, beauty & health director, image coordinator, editor, stylist and text writer. Beside motherhood, the most important role of my life, my days are filled with charity work and sharing light. Feeling good and sowing the seeds of love are my main goals. Beside that I combine writing for magazines with this blog. I am also the creator of Naramatisho, a Kenyan handicraft label. Additionally, I have a healing and coaching practice for awareness and personal growth. I support other travel companions as a life coach through aura reading, chakra balancing, healing techniques and coaching. Everyone deserves to be happy.

I'm a very blessed mother of a wonderful rainbow family. I'm married to a brave, supportive Dutch sun warrior, Michel, and mama moon to a beautiful African sonshine, Micah, and a sweet Welsh corgi dog named Vos (Fox in Dutch). We have been living in Kenya and are now dividing time between Kenya and our home in Amsterdam.

I live simply and am down-to-earth and spiritual all-in-one. And I like seeing the extraordinary in the ordinary. Travelling is in my blood. I love exploring the world, hiking in nature, walking barefoot, yoga, meditation, dancing and music, watching Indie and art house movies, having fun with friends and preparing pure, organic vegan dishes..and capturing moments in a picture. I get inspired by nature, animals, the sun, the moon, the stars and trees. I collect stones, gemstones, feathers and Native American Kachina dolls..and positive thoughts.

SAY HELLO

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The Life Traveller - Back Home
back home

mini traveller - good-buys for the little stars

bed sharing

 

We all have a friend, a colleague, a neighbor who hasn’t slept for ages because of her/his child’s irregular sleeping pattern. Or maybe it is you who is dealing with this yourself. In that case, have you tried co-sleeping?

Although there are many institutions that advise against it, it is proven to be very beneficial for both child and parents.

Because Micah slept through night right from the start, in the early stage of motherhood I decided to leave it that way and not to take him with me in our bed. Especially since it was over 45 Celsius degrees in Kenya at that time and our first home felt like a grill at night. When we were traveling though and there wasn’t a baby crib available I noticed that Micah wasn’t used to sleeping with someone and that he could be very restless lying close to me. I realized that sharing the same bed would be a good thing for him to learn to attach, bond and trust.

When he was a little older, sometimes after a toilet visit during the night he started to ask if he could stay with me in my bed. We started co-sleeping every now and then; every time he asked for it I would take him with me. Although I don’t regret doing it right from the start, since it was a conscious decision, if I would do it again, I think I would have, especially with children who are adopted I think it is very beneficial and healing.

So when my friend, who didn’t experience a good night sleep for almost three years because of her restless toddler confided to me that she was at her wits end, we discussed co-sleeping. She had read about herself and decided to give it a try. The next morning she called me. Her voice was full of excitement. She and her son just woke up after a 7 hour sleep together. Yes, in the beginning it felt a bit unconformable not having the bed all for herself (she’s a single parent), but once she relaxed more it felt heartwarming.

When I suggested co-sleeping the other day to an acquaintance, who was telling me she was exhausted and found it very hard to leave her baby crying during the night (after breastfeeding), but that she didn’t want to teach her that mommy would always be available, I asked her: “Why is that a bad thing?”  “I just want a proper sleep myself as well, to be a good mother, wife, colleague during the day”, she said. “How is that working out for you so far?,” I asked. She changed the subject and I don’t know if she has tried it, but I hope that she did.

But here’s a question, that I asked myself afterwards: Shouldn’t a child trust that you will continually be available during the night, as you are during the day, especially in the early stage of childhood?

More benefits:

Co-sleeping is even more relevant in today’s lifestyles, especially when your child is still a baby. As more and more mommies are separated from their baby during the day, sleeping with their child at night allows them to reconnect. And make up for missed precious moments and touch time during the day.

Studies reveal that sleeping face to face will help your child to breathe better.

For those who are afraid of the risks of SIDS during sleep-sharing: infants tended to sleep more often on their backs or sides and less often on their tummies, a factor that could itself lower the SIDS risk.

And of course, needless to say your sleep environment must be hygienic and safe.

One implicit rationale for having babies and children sleep separately from their parents is to encourage greater independence in the child. Ironically, most research suggests that co-sleeping fosters greater independence and autonomy as children grow, according to Kids Internet Radio. The notion that earlier experiences affect later functioning is the sine qua non of psychological and development theory. Satisfaction of infants’ and children’s need for attachment, attention and human contact, such as occurs in co-sleeping, establishes greater confidence and esteem in children, according to Mother-Baby Behavioral Sleep Laboratory. (source: livestrong).

Warning, if you’re open to co-sleeping and share it with other people you’ll be at risk to the you’ll-be-sorry” reasons that will come to you.

By the way, co-sleeping at our home doesn’t include the dog, but when I found these two together during a nap in the afternoon..my heart melted.

 

 

 

plantbased children’s cookbooks

I am often asked how I make Micah eat his veggies and fruits. Well, I guess I’m lucky to have a child that absolutely loves eating it – especially raw.

Micah asks me all the time for fruit and veggies and has unlimited access to our fruit and veggies baskets in the house (we have several of them).

What also has helped me in this process is that I don’t make a thing of it. I never have. From early on I often said to Micah ‘Let’s get ourselves a treat!’ and then return with a huge sliced mango with cinnamon powder (perfect combo).

I do keep candy at home. I don’t make a big deal of that either, although I do read labels and buy the purest, organic candy I can find that still tastes like candy – or maybe even better. But I almost never see a sad face when I say ‘we’re out of lollypops but I do have an apple’. And the very few times that he seems disappointed – which I find quite normal since you sometimes just crave for something – I just tell him: “This is it. Pick your choice. If you don’t want an apple, grab a pear, grapes or some cherry tomatoes or a sliced avocado (yum with lemon and sea salt).”

When he doesn’t feel like eating at all, I just let him. I share the consequences, like lack of energy during the day etc. but further it is his choice. This behavior is also part of a child’s growth process. It is part of creating a personality, an own opinion, making personal choices and listening to your body.

I never cook any differently for Micah. We always eat the same food. He has the taste buds of an adult person; olives are his favorites.

And I just follow my heart. And I’m sure you do too. So whatever you feed your child, just make sure there is a lot of love in it. A meal that is made with love is a meal that contains a positive energy!

If you feel like wanting to make some changes: it’s never too late to do so. Just don’t focus on it too much when your kids are around and go slow!

I’ve gathered some plantbased children’s cookbooks that I love and that will definitely help you:

The Kew Gardens Childrens Cookbook

By Caroline Craig and George Archer

This beautiful kitchen-garden cookbook contains step-by-step guides to show how easy it is to grow peas, beans, potatoes, carrots and more in your garden or on your terrace, in patio containers or in window boxes or on an allotment. Followed by pure, simple recipes. By having fun growing different plants, chances are most children will love eating them as well.

The Help Yourself Cookbook for Kids

By Ruby Roth

Struggling to get your kids to eat their fruits and vegetables? Try letting them help themselves! I love this approach. It empowers children to take care of themselves and their nutrition. Bursting with color, humor, cute animal characters, and cool facts.

Vegan Lunch Box

By Jennifer McCann

This book offers plantbased recipes which are organized into menus to help for quicker lunch packing (amen to that). Plus it contains tips for feeding the pickiest eaters and has an allergy index at the back.

The Plantiful Table

By Andrea Duclos

She is a mom to one daughter In the book she shows how to create easy, delicious vegan dishes that the whole family will love. All of the dishes are quick and easy to make, so perfect for hectic families.

Plant Powered Families

By Dreena Burton. It offers 100 whole food and YUM recipes to create dishes that are easy peasy to make, will fuel the whole family and make your taste buds go bananas.

goodnight smartphone

I love reading the famous American children cult book Goodnight Moon to Micah that I once bought in The US about a year before I became a mother. After reading it we like to pick things in the room that we say good nigh to as well.

There is also an adult version out now named ‘Goodnight Smartphone’ by Arianna Huftington. In today’s over-connected world, saying ‘goodnight’ seems not that easy for many. Arianna created this modern age adaptation for adults while sharing inspiration about her daily sleep regimen in her introduction.

Exclusively written for Audible, available only in audio and free until April 16, 2017, click here!

Some of my favorite lines are:

“Goodnight kittens, goodnight emails unwritten.”
“Goodnight clocks, goodnight inbox.”
“Goodnight house, goodnight problems with spouse.”
“Goodnight worrying about weight loss, goodnight demanding boss.”
“Goodnight caffeine, which I stop drinking no later than 2:15″
“Goodnight critics, goodnight Netflix.”
“Goodnight sheets, goodnight tweets.”
 

motherhood rising

Among my clients in my healing practice are new mothers who turn to me for individual sessions or group sessions with other ‘mom friends’. I am so excited about this; being surrounded by so much feminine energy inspires me and it makes me look at motherhood from a distance while teaching me a lot about my role as a mother as well.

These days we all seem supermoms; we have careers, hobbies, a household, friends, blogs, social media accounts, relationships (or not) while raising our children. Indigo children.

Despite the joy of ‘having it all’, I also see struggle. And because of that: guilt. I’ve said it before, but I feel it is an important topic: in my opinion the biggest struggle for many active moms is allowing yourself to be fully present to your children. This requires us to rank all other roles, tasks and demands with less priority. And while we naturally put our children first and would do anything for them, we feel frustrated or resistance when we cannot control their demands. Because we have these careers that require our attention as well and we have so many things to do beside that, it can be challenging to fully surrender to our roles as mothers. We want to, but we also feel responsible for other things. And we want that too.

What I would like to share with you is that the biggest struggle doesn’t come from ‘wanting it all’, although feeling content with  what you’ve already accomplished and giving yourself a break might be helpful. However I believe that the struggle mostly comes from the resistance to the new situation you’re in. You can only embrace the miracles from where you are now, when you fully surrender to the now. It means to go with the flow that your baby demands.

I myself became a mother to a boy who was 18 months old at that time. It meant that I had had no baby rhythm to learn from. Starting in Kenya as a family away from all the other ‘roles and things’ that defined me was very important to me and helped a lot. Yes, it meant not being able to share my beginning of motherhood and my beautiful boy with my family and friends in The Netherlands, which was pretty challenging. But it supported my ‘presence-ness’ and the spiritual fullness of just being with my child. During that phase I also discovered how attached I had become to ‘performing’, creating and writing. How much fulfillment it had given me. There were times I didn’t get much sleep, instead I wrote during the hours the moon was awake as well.

However during the day, whenever I felt restless, I looked into my baby boy’s dark brown eyes and I knew that no-thing in this world would ever be of greater significance than responding to the power of being with him. Watching him smile, eat, talk, crawl, walk, opening his heart to me; these milestones nourished my soul.

Yes, it can be difficult to truly look at someone with complete attention, but when you do, it is the greatest gift to this other being and to yourself. It opens new parts inside of you. It creates a strong bond with your child.

It doesn’t mean that you have to give up everything else that matters to you in your life. It means that you need to fully open yourself to the moment and truly be where you are. You can do it at work and you can also do it at home.

Be present. Let go. Embrace. Enjoy.

 

easy diy themes

Crafting stimulates creativity and imagination and it’s so much fun doing with your child.

Here’s some inspiration that Micah and I love.

☆How to: Create an autumn house

Buy a few large boxes and cut out a playhouse. Get inspiration for cute models HERE. Or buy a kit cardboard house. Go outside and collect material from nature. Let everything dry first thoroughly before pasting!

The house offers plenty of creative possibilities in various themes; for example, decorate with painted figures.

Inside you can do a glow in the dark theme!

☆How to: Create natural glow in the dark play clay

This is how!

☆How to: create cute tattoos

Click to find out!

☆Very simple: create rock dominoes

It is easy peasy. Just collect flat stones together in nature, which is so much fun already. And paint them with washable paint, so they can be washed clean and put back in nature or be used for another painting theme.

super moon

playmat-moon

On my ‘wish list’ for Christmas: this beautiful full moon play matt by Willie and Millie.For Micah’s room..or my own work space.

And even more striking since the largest moon of this century shows up tomorrow!

♥ Wishing you mystical full moon blessings

 

 

you rock

As a child I was once allowed to pick a stone near a river during a vacation in Austria. I still remember how it felt; enthusiastically and very concentrated I carefully looked at the stones around me.

My sister went for a beautiful little, dark, flat stone. And my eye fell on one that was bigger, greyish of color, beautiful shaped and perfectly in your hand. And it shone like a snowy mountain peak.

After several relocations I didn’t see it anymore. Yet I still smile when I thinking of that pretty good luck stone.

Today my house is filled with stones from different countries and regions. I never really look for them; they just seem to come to me. Sometimes I write in miniature on the stone where I found it or I take a snapshot with credits. I often link stones to a nice hike, event, memory. And sometimes I leave it behind at the location after a few days, because it feels better this way.

Last week I went to pick his first good luck stone with Micah. Although he has several in his room (also from Kenya of course), this was a very conscious moment. The evening before I read the book ‘Everybody Needs A Rock’ to him, containing the rules for finding the perfect stone. Micah was totally enthusiastic.

After school we drove to the nearby bush. Micah suddenly bent over and he said, ‘This is it, mommy.’ The determination when he spoke was so beautiful and endearing.

Despite that the book offered a very nice preparation and inspiration, there are no rules needed to find something in your life. You’ll find it when you open your inner radar without going to look for it. This cute rock event reminded me of that.

-x-

Positive parenting. How to turn a NO! into a soft Yes

One of the most challenging lessons in staying close and true to myself as a mother I find the times when Micah opposes a decision. I’m sometimes amazed at how much he wants to make his mark at such a young age. And really has an opinion on everything.

I find it a particularly good development. And because of the long way that Micah has come so far, I am perhaps even more grateful to see these steps. Moreover, I think it is important that he has space to show initiative and explore his preferences without me interfering.

However, there are times, such as going out to an appointment or coming home and going up the stairs, that we both create resistance for opposite reasons.

For those who recognize this and have not really found a solution yet; what has really helped us is that I give him two choices, both guiding him in the same direction.

For example, if he stays standing in the hallway because he suddenly doesn’t want to go upstairs, I often say now: “I hear you. It looks like you would like to go upstairs in your own rhythm. You know what? You can choose. You come right away with me OR you choose to come in two minutes. Your choice! He often chooses the latter and then still pretty quickly walks with me.

When he tries to draw attention while we have (adult) visitors, I say, ‘You can come and sit with us OR you can make a drawing.’

I stand by those two choices. And Micah feels empowered because he made a decision himself.

Of course it is important to stay calm yourself and to be very clear. Also it is essential to make the choices sound equally attractive otherwise it sounds like a trap.

Give it a try and please let me know how it works for you!

Love,

M

 

 

quote angelina

angelina jolie - mini traveller - The Life Traveller

 

“It’s strange, I never wanted to have a baby. I never wanted to be pregnant. I never babysat. I never thought of myself as a mother,” Jolie, now famously a mother of six, says with a laugh. But while playing with children at a Cambodian school, “it was suddenly very clear to me that my son was in the country, somewhere.” – Angelina Jolie

I came recently came across this quote (source here) and Angelina’s words touched me. Although I rarely quote celebrities over here, I thought it was nice to share these words with you, also to send something different into the world, than the notifications surrounding the marriage break of the actress.

When Michel and I could make the choice of the birthcountry of our child in the adoption process, it was not nearly as romantic as is often thought. Although I had always pictured an African child, even when I was still a child myself, every country has its own demands, which of course makes sense. However that also means that several countries are no option for the adoption-parents-to-be. Or do not seem the most obvious choice at that time.

For example, we just got married and couples needed to be married at least three years for according Kenya’s demands. So we focused first on other countries, but somehow it did not feel quite ‘right’. I told myself it was because of the process and to keep the faith and stay close to myself, for the meant-to-be country would reveal itself. And I focused on two countries and later on one specific country.

Only a few years later, when we finally arrived at Kenya as the country of our choice I knew why I had felt so before. After our intake for Kenya I hardly slept for about two months. Every night I woke up and tears streamed uncontrollably down my cheeks. And I did not know exactly why. Something was touched inside of me that was so great that it seemed almost larger than myself. I felt so good and looked so good. Everyone complimented me for my radiant appearance. I dressed elaborately in bright colors, something I never did. I then traveled a lot for work and I enjoyed a lot. These lucky hormones, gave me the glow of a pregnant woman. It felt like the seed planted in my heart came to full bloom.

I can understand and truly feel Angelina’s words. And I think every mother whose children were born in her heart instead out of her tummy might recognize something in this.

For you I write this the most. <3

 

parenting part 2

To everyone who has emailed me personally recently about my parenting philosophy: many thanks. Because of that enthusiasm, I will share some more personal insights/learn moments on this subject.

What strikes me especially since I am a mother is that the word discipline actually barely seems to exist in my vocabulary or in a different context. I used to associate this term with strict education.

Nowadays I prefer to be flexible as a mother and see the power and strength in it. And also I don’t want to be afraid of the emotions of my child and won’t cover them because it is easier for me. I want my son to know, that he can express anything and that nothing is too big for me. And yes, that can be challenging at times, but especially when it’s not convenient for me.

I do think that there is a kind of peaceful confidence in this where a child too can find peace in and clarity.

In the interview that I recently had with the Dutch online platform minime.nl I was asked whom I considered a cool mom. Because my answers were too long (gee, story of my life ;-)) my full answer was shortened.

That is why I share a part of it here. I replied: “I find it very inspiring when a woman has so much confidence and faith in herself and in her child, that she can love it and guide it without trying to control or influence her child’s growth.”

And that’s what I want to convey as a mother. That also means that sometimes you stand alone or you’re not totally understand. But the point is that you understand your own choices. And by the way it does not mean that I agree with everything Micah does.

When Micah is irritated, then I realize that he really is not comfortable in his own skin. Usually, when I ‘m clear and balanced I first allow him to truly feel and experience what he feels and do not react too much. If it is too intense, I kneel down to be on the same height and I embrace him. I remain very still with my arms around him. It’s no reward, no, it is a powerful softness that I transfer. And sometimes the situation requires a different approach, but usually this calm embrace works best.

You cannot create peace while expressing your dissatisfaction. That you can only create by remaining peaceful yourself. The moments when I forget about this, make me even more aware of this and make me grateful afterwards.

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