‘Turning a blind eye’

Inspiration shot January 2023

“If you had to choose, would you rather be blind or deaf?” Do you remember how you answered this hypothetical question? I always chose sight. Even though I know that sound is important, and being able to have a conversation; as a writer, reader, and traveler I value my eyes the most.
So it was quite a shock when I suddenly had flashes of light in my right eye a few weeks ago. I rushed to the emergency room of an Italian village hospital… It turned out that part of my retina had detached; I have permanently lost partial sight in one eye. I gained a lot of inSIGHTs from this experience, which I would like to share with you in this inspiration shot.


There is so much to share that I wrote a blog about my eye problems and life lessons. In short, I appear to have the hereditary disease retinoschisis in which the retina splits into two layers. So far they were able to stop the further progression with a nasty laser treatment. But sooner or later it will also happen in my other eye, and there is nothing that can be done about it… 😢
So: I have less screen time, no more moves or exercises that put pressure on my face/eye, and always be alert for sudden moves hits, or falls from now on. It is one of the most impactful things I’ve experienced.
What I learned despite the shock: is that I can now practice being even more in the moment. That I can trust my own worldview. That I have to learn to see more with my heart. AND: respect for everyone who struggles with reduced vision, because it really takes some adjusting…

Mental fitness

Imagine: you are suddenly half-blind in one eye, are still recovering from laser treatment and then you ‘have’ to facilitate a private writing retreat… Wouldn’t it be a ‘coincidence’ if that book was ‘mental fitness’?
Heidi Stiegelis has developed a model on how to can deal with situations in a ‘healthy’ way, even if you have chronic problems. Together we further developed her ‘Health-Values model‘ this week (and ate very well! ). A short video report (in Dutch, sorry!):

Focus on beautiful things

“You can’t wait until life isn’t hard anymore before you decide to be happy”. Singer-songwriter Nightbirde impressed us with her wisdom during her phenomenal audition at America’s Got Talent.
We always have a choice: either you focus on the annoying things, or you focus on the beautiful things in life. Here is a collection of things that make us happy.

Workshop alert

‘Coincidentally’ 👀 The workshops I am organizing this month are about ‘energy management and burnout prevention’ and ‘visibility’.

Modern promotion & ‘free publicity’ workshop

You have an important message, but you don’t like to be in the spotlight.

This live online workshop gives you tips & tricks to be visible, in a personal and natural way.

For writers, entrepreneurs, coaches, speakers & digital nomads who want to have the same impact online as offline.

Inspiration bites

See for me

I searched for films about people losing their sight and came across this one.
In ‘See for me’, a tough blind ex-skier is surprised by a gang of violent burglars while ‘cat-sitting’ in a large house.

Be My Eyes

‘Be My Eyes’ is a mobile app that helps blind and visually impaired people recognize objects & cope with everyday situations. An online community of sighted volunteers receives photos or videos and helps via live chat.

Julie Ann Palm

Most people think I only mentor non-fiction writers. Of course, many clients write business books and autobiographies. But I have also helped writers with cookbooks, children’s books, poetry collections, and now even an erotic thriller!
Few people know how difficult and vulnerable it is to write a (good) erotic story. But Julie did it!

Robin van Sambeek

A few years ago, Robin participated in the writing retreat Curaçao. As a pilot, he had many ‘wild’ stories that he committed to paper. The subtitle ‘confessions of an airline pilot’ were created that week.
In recent years Robin has learned many life lessons, all of which he incorporated into the book. Now he helps men to become empowered, using his book as a ‘business card’. Respect!

Did you know...?

… that I ‘rescued’ a dog? And that he rescued me, too?
On December 24th, I drove to the village and saw a small hunting dog running after the cars in the middle of the road. As if he had just been kicked out of a car. He could be hit at any moment. I stopped by the side of the road. He was too nervous to be touched but jumped right into my car. Now what?
I decided to take him and look for his owner after Christmas. Stopped at the supermarket to quickly buy some dog food before everything closed for the holidays. There the dog escaped and was hard to catch. He nervously sniffed at every car to see if it might be his owner. 😢
In the end, the dog stayed with me for a week. In a way I loved it, but it was really an impossible situation. I had to take it easy with my eye, was not allowed to bend or lift, and then you have such a whirlwind of energy around me. He was not used to being in the house (urinated everywhere) so – completely against my principles – he had to be chained outside. So he barked all day. It made me nervous. And everything was covered in mud; my house, my terrace, the car, and myself.
A highlight for both of us was the daily one-hour walk around my house. It is magical to walk with a happy dog, who looks at the world with childish wonder and pleasure! He learned super fast and stayed with me without a leash. And in my dreams he gave me advice on how to ground myself better: he showed me how to make ‘anchor points’ with my feet, which we practiced together while walking…
Finding his owner was impossible. Hunters here simply ‘throw away’ dogs that are not good enough. Via word of mouth, however, I managed to find a super sweet family for him. They named him Leo and I can follow him on Instagram.
Thank you, Leo, for this special experience ❤️ 🐾

esther with dog

Where is Esther?

I was actually planning to stay in one place a bit longer anyway; but I was meaning to do it ‘my way’, with various trips. Unfortunately, I had to cancel all of them because of my eye. So no Christmas dinner with my university friends in Holland, no skiing in January, and no more train trips on my Interrail card… 😢
As a result, I ‘landed’ even more here in Puglia. I celebrated Christmas with a local family, and New Year with my cleaning lady and electrician in a restaurant in the village 😜, as you can see in the picture below. Truly an anthropological experience…
So nice to get to know my village even better! The applications for Workation village Italy in April have started to come in, so I’m sorting out and booking the coolest apartments for the co-workers who come to live and work in my village for a month.
Curious about how beautiful my Tiny House has become? It’s almost done and I’ve even put it on Airbnb already. If you want to rent my paradise (for example in March when I’m with my father in Miami & organize the writing retreat on Curaçao, or during the summer) you can check the availability on Airbnb. When you make the booking directly with me, you get a 20% discount.

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