Het verhaal van Mariet Rutten, vriend van Land aan Zee.

Mariet did not have to think twice about saying 'yes' when she read that she could become a 'friend' of Land aan Zee. Fortunately, she also said 'yes' when asked if we could ask her some questions. Meet tons of life experience, resilience and motivation. Mariet's gripping story begins on her sickbed, ends on the beach in Zeeland and is undoubtedly an inspiration for many of our future friends.

Why did you pledge to become a friend of Land aan Zee from before the start?

Fifteen years ago, on my sickbed, I dreamt of what is being realised today on Schouwen-Duiveland by Land aan Zee. From an empty silent room, I watched the birds in the sky and spring in the backyard, dreaming of a bright future. Being ill for a long time makes one lonely. During my illness process, I missed attention and time for me as a human being, because I am more than illness. Hope kept me going. I dreamt about all the things I would do when I was functioning again and what I would change in my life then. I saw it in the form of images in my head, how I would walk by the sea, and dive in with the seals nearby. Feeling the sand between my toes again. A major driving force was the dream of having a small house on Schouwen with an annexe where I could offer people in and after processes of illness a safe haven to recharge after headwinds in life. When you lose the naturalness of health, you risk losing your dreams and have to look for a new form of life to go on, and that requires courage and resilience. 

Meanwhile, we are more than 15 years later. I have now realised 85% of the dreams I had back then. Thanks to qualified therapists and doctors who had faith in me, I am functioning again. It took a lot of time, energy, fighting and keeping swimming against the current. Also, attention meditation helped me in my process, which started in 1998. It was my salvation. 

People find it hard to imagine that my life stood still for so long because of being sick per se and the misdiagnoses that followed. The doctors were puzzled. Then came the diagnosis: I have a brain disease. You can't see anything on the outside, but on the inside it's different and I have to take that into serious consideration. 24 operations, seven rehabilitations and 36 hospitalisations later, I can say that I am a grateful person. I want to share that joy by realising the last 15% of my dreams: on the one hand, as a friend of Land aan Zee and, on the other, with my autobiography titled: Buigend gras – over veerkracht bij ziekte. 

What exactly are you going to offer?  

I desire to introduce people to attention meditation from mindfulness and the power of gentle movement, both internally and externally. A movement of mind and body by learning to practice attention playfully and by connecting. But attention for what? Yourself, your nature, also concerning your environment and your limits. Regaining your freedom by making space for learning and daring. Life often swallows us up so much by stress in all kinds of areas, by illness, pain or loss that this freedom is far away. Learning to approach that stress differently from inner resilience, and authenticity and exploring that together in a playful way, is my goal. And in this, I will work together with Virginie Parent (yoga teacher). She is just as passionate as I am and also has a warm heart for Land aan Zee. 

Can you tell a bit more about yourself and your offering? 

In daily life, I am a CAM registered therapist, which means I work integrally according to the positive psychology of health. The people who visit my practice experience stress, burn-out symptoms, illness and pain, are out of treatment, traumatised (developmental or shock trauma) or completely stuck in life because of what has happened to them or those close to them. They want things to be different, but they don't succeed. They often feel misunderstood. 

The person and the story, its origin and giving space to that are important key points in my work. Often, only a complaint is treated but I work holistically. Body and mind are one and influence each other, through conversation or the body-centred approach. The body gives a signal but we are not focused on recognising it. From fixed patterns, we go on and on and are hard on ourselves. We take our car to the garage faster than we take the step to ask for help for ourselves. 

Besides working as a therapist, I am a trainer in mindfulness, self-compassion and trauma-sensitive body awareness. I work with groups and 1-on-1 in Deventer and give practical lessons in human-centred work to future counsellors at training institutes. I am also a mentor and intervention coordinator for trainers. Furthermore, I am a member of the Advisory Board for the Mindfulness Register and work on demand as a voluntary bereavement counsellor. And I have recently been allowed to call myself a writer. 

When do you call yourself a friend of Land aan Zee? 

I think you can call yourself a friend of Land aan Zee if you can support the thinking and have the willingness to contribute to it. Change in the world starts with the step you take yourself, sometimes it seems like a drop in the sea, but all the drops together make the sea. How wonderful it is when someone has and uses the resources to make your dream a reality. Then, for me, it is only a logical step to find a form together, through connection and cooperation, to eventually make this common big dream a success and let the seed grow into a beautiful coloured flower. 

How does the concept fit within your outlook on life? 

My life motto is: 'It's not how you fall, but the way you get up!' The trick is to keep seeing the positive in small things despite all the setbacks. This process brings inner growth and resilience. For me, every day is a gift of life and I share that joy. Silence and solitude, by the sea preferably, are for me the moments when I recharge to be able to sustain this work. In that silence, I meditate and return again and again to my centre: the space I feel despite the harrowing pain of my body. Experiencing suffering and moving from suffering to leading and eventually guiding, was my growth process through being sick. Besides learning to let go and learning to trust my body again. 

What are you looking forward to in particular? 

The people I get to meet, each in his or her process and the inner treasures they bring through experience in their lives. And their faces and shining eyes, after a meditation sitting by the sea at dawn, in silence with each other. To experience together the elements of nature in all its depth. Tasting the briny on your lips, watching the seagulls fly, hearing the waves of the sea deep within your being, feeling the sand and smelling the scent of fresh coffee on returning home. And for those who have the guts, take a fresh dip together for yet another day, with your heart beating fast due to the coldness of the water. There by the sea, you feel fully alive and can recharge your battery. That is how it feels to me again and again, and I want to share that feeling. 

Can I meet you there and take you to experience it?

Want to know more about Mariet? www.mindbody-retreat.nl of www.mariet-rutten.nl

And do you feel the need to respond to this interview to Mariet? You can do that through email.