Knitting a blanket | What I achieved in Barcelona

What I “achieved” in Barcelona

well… nothing really

Last year I lived about 7 months in Barcelona

And for some reason …I just didn’t make things happen


These months were spend well

There were


food for the soul, ears and eyes ( music, food, art)

long walks at the beach

Probably exactly what I needed

But still..

this ‘not getting anything done” was pretty frustrating.

My nature is to come up with ideas, see possibilities and make things work.

Maybe even most of my identity (me feeling me) and self-worth comes from these experiences of realizing projects and getting things done.

So the painful thing was

That I tried

So hard

To realize one of my ideas

But nothing wanted to flow, get done or work out

Except for… a blanket

In these months I knitted 1 blanket

4 by 1 meter

5 colours

with fringes on the side

I started it

Did the work

And finished it

And got to experience the satisfaction that comes with realizing something.

This was an interesting experience because  – knitting was not one of my skills, and even the ‘making something with my hands’ is new for me.

So it makes me wonder

Why then did this, of all things I tried, work out?

Maybe you are stuck in a creative project too, or like to do your work with more ease.

I reflected on this experience and came to 5 learnings about realizing a creative project.

learnings that can be applied to other projects too,

and get the river of creating flowing again.

5 ways to make a creative process flow with more ease

Read more


a refreshing summer dive

What if starting up a project ( a website, a blog, a training) could feel light, empowering and creative?

Would the results be likewise?

Although I’m inspired by the “just do it” mentality and in the past got a lot of work done by setting a deadline, pushing away my fears and jump – I now believe another approach might be more effective and healthy.

I’m writing this in a break, at the beach, about to leave Barcelona where I lived for 6 months, up North, for a cool summer, in which I plan to get some creative work done: redecorating my website and blog.

And want to try out another approach this time.

I like to share a tiny-guide with you, so you can try it out yourself too – in case you also have a creative project that’s about to bubble up and wants to get done.

I write this on San Juan, the new years day of Catalunya, Spain, in which the start of the summer, new beginnings are celebrated with load music, fireworks and bonfires.

Here at San Juan the tradition is to jump through the bonfires at midnight to burn your sins away, ready for a new clean start, a guarantee for a happy good year.

Reality is that lots of people get badly burned in this ritual.

So I was more interested in joining the other tradition, the one that works with the cleansing power of natural water: to swim at midnight in the sea or a river, to drown your sins for a new start, with a clean slate.

I believe this illustrates perfectly the shift in how to start something new – instead of pushing away your fears and just jumping through the fire (or not jumping at all), I like to try the rejuvenating dive in cold water.

Still feeling the resistance, the hesitation and discomfort, but an experience that leaves you refreshed.

So…how to do this for creative work?

One of the things I learned is the importance of focus, taking small steps and working with a structure (knowing how to move forward).

Therefore I created a tiny guide for my creative project this summer (redecorating my website).  And I like to share it with you, so you can experience the approach for yourself.

Pick one of the projects you want to start this summer – no expectations, no “I have to’s” – something you for some reason want to start but hardly seem to find the time or courage to do so – like starting a blog, writing a white paper or setting up an (online) training.

Something that makes you curious – How would it look like? How could I realize it?

If you like to dive into the unknown with your project this summer, and make it a light, empowering and creative experience, then join me in this experiment by taking the first easy steps:

  • download the tiny-guide part 1 here – to do the first 15 min ‘writing your intention’ session
  • buy a nice notebook and pen
  • write down in your agenda when you want to do the 15 minute sessions (every morning, every Saturday?)
  • have an eye out for my next email.

To refreshing new beginnings ^_^


photo 1

Setting yourself up for the in-between phases

Yesterday on the first sunny Spring day here in Holland, I walked on the beach with a friend, we talked about her upcoming big shift: moving to Kopenhagen to live with her loved one (yeah!).

Walking against the wind both wrapped in our jackets, blankets and hats, she told me she had been so busy with arranging the paperwork, wrapping up her job and getting rid of her stuff that she hardly thought about what she would do when she would get there.

And although she was looking forward to being there, something about it also scared her.

After years of hard work as psychologist at an acknowledged and demanding institute, living in her own space in a historic house at the Amsterdam canals and enjoying her independent life: dancing, yoga, going out with friends…

– > she’s now moving to this new city, living together with her loved one in his house, having to be dependent on his salary for the first period of time.

This understandably brought up worrying thoughts like “I can’t even go and drink a cup of coffee somewhere, because I would have to ask him for it!”

And although I’m sure she’ll love the move and she her thriving from being with her loved one, in nature and having time to rest – it can also be a harsh period with lots of inner struggle; Who am I without my job, stuff and commitments? What’s my worthiness if I don’t have a job and depending on someone else? Am I allowed to just have fun and take time to rest?

Exactly the reasons and feelings that holds most people back from these kind of shifts in the first place – way to scary!

And I see even those who are brave enough to go for what they really desire; like starting a new business, initiating a neighborhood project or moving to another country –  often right away drown themselves in the arranging and fixing things: creating the new normal and new certainties as soon as possible.

It’s their right to do so – but I believe there’s a lot to gain from these uncertain ‘in-between phases’  in which you already left where you were, but not are where you want to be – if set it up with care

With her talents and personality I’m sure she’ll find a nice community and a job in a whim if she likes – but I believe that more will come if she allows herself to take a few months to transit, rest and play. Using this move to uncover unexpected recourses within herself and make new connections from a more confident radian place –  creating the lifestyle that makes her thrive.

Yesterday at the beach with the sun in our faces we brainstormed about how she could set herself up for making best use of this transit phase, instead of rushing into fixing ‘a new job and friendships’. Since I’m a bit addicted to new starts myself and just intentionally went through one myself, I advised her the following;

  • Anchor your intention. Not a concrete goal you have to strive for. But in the form of a feeling you can experience NOW. Asking yourself: what would I like to feel and experience? Adventurous, energized, creative…? And keep that as your grip hold, your focus during the day. Now choose some sensual ways of reminding yourself to this feeling: a vision board, a song, a soft sweater or a favorite beverage.
  • Create your own structure. Instead of expecting yourself to be able to fully enjoy this freedom after a whole life of having structure from schools and jobs, you can also experiment with setting your own structure. Like: every morning a one hour walk, then 2 hours of reading, and every afternoon 2 hours of job searching, cooking a new recipe every evening. Something that makes you look forward to.
  • Set up a support system, apart from your partner, closest friends and parents. Invest in a coach or tutor. Or ask someone who’s a tutor for you to check in with every week, locally or online. Ask some colleagues or friends beforehand to regularly meet (online) to vent and have fun. Join some kind of local group or community, anything, something social – a knitting group, a book-club or volunteering at a yoga centre.
  • And then: act upon what you really feel and experience – not what you think you should feel and experience. Is this popular knitting group in reality draining you? Shift to a breakfast writing class. Were you looking forward to enjoying long walks alone in nature, but in reality it’s totally depressing you – go join a running group.

And parallel to this all the regular maintenance; exercise, rest and healthy food.

You see. That feels more empowering, right? It’s not a tense ‘make it or break it’ approach – but more a big experiment that you can look at with curiosity, play & wonder.

p.s. if you know a women who’s also about to make a shift, about to follow one of her desires and feels like taking concrete actions this Spring – please forward her this post – if she likes to meet personally and give this move attention in a trusted group -> she’s also very welcome to join the Women Circle I organise Saturday 21st of March. 


photo 2












Letting go of the need to understand

Some people are not getting what I’m doing now. And I understand!

I used to be very practical and rational.

But I was getting stuck and my clients got stuck.

These rational tools are great, and I still love to use them to give the right amount of structure and focus.

But now I’m also bringing in the more intuitive, playful ways of working and building a life.

And you know what?

It’s a messy process – sometimes I feel like things are going nowhere, all to find out that confidence, clarity and recourses are revealed on the go, in unexpected ways.

People around me do recognize the desire for working in this more playful, light and free way – but then they ask; how do you do that?

And I get talkative and vague – get red cheeks and a heavy head – and I see in their glazing eyes that I’m loosing them. Normally I would fix that by freezing, talking louder or faster – not working!

Now I realize that part of this intuitive way of working and living is: letting go of the need to be understood – not wanting to explain or convince anyone (including yourself).

What a relieve.

Okay, I might “loose” some people for a while. But I notice that there are always enough people who just like me for who I am, are interested in the same, or simply understand without having to explain -> these feel like the deeper connections, and that’s maybe all I need right now.

That said, if you recognize this and also like to bring in more intuitive and playful way of working: I’m happy to share my reflections on my experiences and also the more practical tools in this blog, so you can try it on too.

If you like to meet personally and experience this playful way of working yourself – meet me at the entrepreneurial women circle Saturday March 21st, at the border of Amsterdam

polder dag 26 juni 2014

The for fun & beauty Strategy

A few weeks ago I was guiding creative writing exercises during an entrepreneurial women retreat, and sat there enjoying a quiet moment. The only thing I heard was the quick scratching of pens on paper, the slight crackling of the fire and the wind against the windows. A day like this is just pure joy for me – and the participants tell me it’s a treat for them too.

How often do we as entrepreneurs live in martyrdom? – pushing ourselves a little bit more to achieve that one thing in the future. Okay, sometimes that can be the right thing to do: just do the work.

 But what if doing something for fun and beauty , is also the most effective strategy for your business?

These retreats are a perfect example of that – I started to organise them just because I felt like doing it, and they turned out to be powerful – for the participants and myself.

For example after the last day I received an email of one of the participants that said it all…

“wow, this morning I had a meeting with a client and I noticed myself already showing up differently; I took the lead in the conversation, shared my vision and felt much more confident, this is magic!”

This is exactly what makes my heart jump – and helps me to get more clear on what I’m best at too; facilitating the fuzzy start phases by organising events and programs that make people take action upon their desires and plans, so they (and others around them) enjoy the effects – not because they push themselves or because their to-do-list says so – but because something shifted during an event or series of coaching sessions, and they just notice themselves doing it.

With this focus in mind I’m creating behind the scenes, now the days are still cold, to come up with renewed events and programs when the first flowers open this Spring

Want to see what this fun & beauty strategy can do for you?

Take 15 minutes now to try it out:

  • What would you like to do just for fun and beauty?

  • What baby step can you take today?

  • Push the reply button to share it with me so I can keep you accountable (and to make my day: hearing these stories make me stand up and dance along with we could be heroes:)


Warmly, Elselien


P.S. would you like to read more about results of a fun & beauty strategy? read this booklet about the process of buying a campervan – that taught me a lot about breaking through fears and realizing ideas in a more natural way.


on effective laziness [& recourses 2014]

Last week on a rainy day I cycled to my bookkeeper to hand in this years administration. And when I parked my bike in front of his office I bumped into him. We talked about how we once met, when I started my business in 2009 – at that time he was sitting alone in his improvised office in an old empty school building, and how amazing it was to see him now standing here in front of his mansion office at the Amsterdam canals, with a team of employees. Still with this same ease and glow on his face.

He and his employees seem to do the work so happily, always having time for a chat or to answer my questions. And I asked him –

How did you grow your business? What’s your secret? He said

“ah, I think it’s because I’m so lazy. I don’t like to do a lot of work. I keep my work hours short, focussing on the things I like to do and am happy to hand most of the work over to others.”

hmmm, sounds like something I’d like to experiment with.

Today I sat down to write this weeks blog-post and asked myself:

What would I do if I was lazy? 

And decided to create my post in a half an hour. Not because I don’t have more time, but because I want to write with a light and good feeling, no less. And half an hour feels like a proper amount of time.

This lead to the idea to share some of my most read and discussed resources of 2014 (now it’s still reflection season:-) Thought it was a nice idea to give you the opportunity to read the posts you missed and some of them might be more relevant to you now. Hope you enjoy.

Would you like to experiment with this “effective laziness”? Think of one task you like to get done today and…

  • ask yourself: what’s a good amount of time to spend on it? Then set a timer for yourself and do it within that time period.
  • or.. ask someone else to it for you
  • And then push the reply button to send me a short note on the experience.

Okay, half an hour passed, I’m off! Elselien

My best read, most discussed resources 2014

I kicked off the year with the launch of my new program; build a business that fits you like a glove – and wrote a few pages about how a year as a starting entrepreneur would look like, including stories and exercises to get things going by yourself. Read more. 

While working with my clients and doing my own ventures, I started to recognize some patterns – what’s working these days? –  I’d like to share 3 of those…

The process of buying a campervan taught me more about realizing ideas in a more natural way and I wrote a short booklet about it Read more.

Last june I started to organise entrepreneurial women days for the fun & beauty of it and because of my growing believe that it all gets more effective when working in togetherness. You can still join next week Friday Jan. 23rd. Read more.

This summer I got triggered by the effectiveness of defining a creative project, setting a challenge for yourself – to get things moving in a more playful way. Too much freedom can at times make you feel stuck (in procrastination or to do lists) – maybe true freedom comes by creating your own constraints? I decided to challenge myself with a 2 month trip through America – connecting with my peers there, exploring working on the go and investigating myths and new patterns on entrepreneurship. Read more. 

Coming up

What did I learn from my own creative project, challenge? Does setting constraints, creating a project for yourself really work? And what are the myths on entrepreneurship that hold many of us back? What works better these days? Will share more in the next posts.


a tool to prepare for a magical entrepreneurial 2015

Hi there,

now that you’re about to move into the holidays…I wanted to give you a tool to make sure you’re preparing yourself for an amazing entrepreneurial 2015.

I see many entrepreneurs (including myself!)

or… creating some exciting new goals for themselves, working hard the whole year to make them happen (which can feel heavy and like you have to sell yourself, or convince people)

or… distracting themselves with busy-ness and over-eating, plunging into the new year, we’ll see! let’s just go with the flow! Which can make you feel lost or unfulfilled at some point ( am I doing the right thing?)

So what now? Wanna try something else?

What I’m doing these days is using my secret magic tool – the workbook of Susannah Conway

I used it last year – and yesterday I found it back somewhere underneath a bunch of paper in a drawer, and found out that I wrote things like..

[ …America? ]… in the November box


[ …connect more with allies internationally ]

And this is exactly what has been happening for me in the last year. I wrote it on the workbook, put it away, totally forgot about it…but still… it somehow defined my focus.

Quite scary how powerful it is to set an intention.

So this darkest weekend of the year, I’ll do this work with even more enthusiasm, with tea, candles, music…

Are you joining?

Wishing you warm & cosy days – planting fruitful seeds for 2015  ~ Elselien

p.s. it’s even more powerful to set a clear intention for the year in a group setting = > today the subscription opened for the entrepreneurial women day, Friday the 23rd of January in Amsterdam – with the focus on creating your manifesto for 2015 – putting your vision & values for this year in words and visuals – so you have something tangible in your hands as a focus and anchor point in your entrepreneurial year – just to keep as a guideline for yourself – or to openly share so others can connect with you as clients, colleagues or supporters (yah, you go girl!) ~ making clear that your business is more than the products you sell at this moment. This proces starts the moment you sign up – receiving every week a 15 min. creative exercise, to make sure you’ll give this attention the easy way  See the invitation here. 


these cosy dark winter days are perfect for reflecting on 2014 and unravelling 2015 – I’m using my favorite magic workbook for that this weekend, you can download it here too: Unraveling 2015 – let’s do some magic in 2015 
entrepreneurial women retreat sept 19 2014

Do you have a minute ~ this actually might help you to create time…

Maybe you recognize this: You like to change something in your life or start something new. Like a daily running practice, a professional blog or a new venture. But it all feels sappy or only little happens, because you just don’t seem to find the time.

My experience is that this is where it begins – the biggest first step is to consciously create time.

If you take this first step – things will start to get moving.

Creating time is not easy though; it seems like there is always something or someone else more important. And another week, month or year passes by.

Let me share an experience of myself with you. Maybe it helps you to understand how this shows up in your life.

Few years ago I wanted to start a blog, but time just passed by and nothing happened. Now I see I didn’t allow myself to take the time, thinking; Can I just sit at home and write? Shouldn’t I be at the office? Shouldn’t I do sales and first have more success? Will I be a good partner?

Only when I started to schedule sessions with a writing coach and agreed with the Hub Amsterdam to deliver a monthly blog, I gave writing priority.

Now writing is something I enjoy daily, it gives me a sense of fulfillment, made me discover a new creative part of myself – writing is at the core of my business activities today – I develop course materials, write copy for clients and stay connected with great people like you via my blog posts.

So what (unexpectedly) turned out to be more true? By consciously creating time for writing I do more valuable work for clients, and because I have more fun and am more myself…my partner only likes me more:-)

Maybe this makes you think of something that you like to change or start.

I’d like to offer you some small actions you can take today to create time (despite of everything)

  • Define what feels possible for you, in your life, right now – 15 minutes a day can already make the difference (yes really, listen for prove to the podcast on How creative people get it done)
  • Schedule a meeting with someone else to work on it, someone who’ll keep you accountable (a colleague, a coach or by joining an event)
  • Shift your attention to who you’re doing it for – who could benefit from it? and how can you commit to them? (this made me approach The Hub Amsterdam and commit to deliver a blog every month)

Let me know what comes up for you.

Thank you for creating the time to read this all to the end – hope it helps you to create more time for the things that matter most to you.


p.s. and now I have a new idea that’s knocking on my door for a while already (louder and louder), and notice that I (again) tend to not find, have or create the time for it. But now I’m going to do it differently – I used my own advices above and defined a creative project (some might call it quest or challenge) that helps me to create time – and already experiencing things are (literally) moving for me…you can read more about it here, maybe it fires you up to create your own or engage in mine and help me to keep my feet to the fire.

p.p.s. if you’re also intrigued by these creative projects/quest/challenges, I definitely recommend watching this Marie Forleo interview with Chris Guillebeau

p.p.p.s. The Entrepreneurial Women Retreat next week (sept 19th) can be a great opportunity to free up a day – to create some space to let ideas, contacts and collaborations emerge and set things in motion. Sign up before the 11th so we can count on you.

entrepreneurial women retreat sept 19


My creative project: entrepreneurship of the soul – get real!

For the past several weeks, I’ve been talking about creative projects (you could also call these projects quests or challenges) — ways to playfully set something in motion that’s meaningful to you right now.

Maybe these posts have inspired you think about creating one for yourself, too.

Today I’m thrilled to share my upcoming quest with you — I hope that it will fire you up to define your own and hold my feet to the fire for the next three months.

It’s something that makes me get out into the world more, step out of my comfortable bubble and literally use my own feet to develop my vision. Get away from my books and computer, to feel, see, hear, smell and taste for myself what’s really happening in the field of entrepreneurship and creating work these days.

So I came up with a project for myself. Something that feels like an adventure, creates stronger connections with other people, and inspires me to do what I love to do the most.

My creative project is about preparing work & travel trips, with the intention to spend time with those entrepreneurs who are, or about to – work in alignment with their souls mission, doing the things they naturally feel drawn to. Choose to rise in these uncertain and complex times. The lilies in the mud so to say.

To collect stories that challenge the traditional image of entrepreneurship and offer new patterns and understandings about creating work, that are in alignment with what I believe people truly desire.

All to experience and learn for myself: Is it possible to live and work in alignment with your soul’s mission? Live with ease, and follow your intuition and desires, trusting the right things will happen?

And what does it take?

Let’s get real about it.

In the past couples of weeks, as I’ve prepared for a trip in the West-coast of America, I’ve enjoyed the people and opportunities that have been showing up — I’m just starting down the path, and already things have really begun moving for me.

The blueprint of my trip is slowly emerging, starting in San Diego at beginning of October with a 3-day event for holistic entrepreneurs (including a Dress-to-Impress catwalk evening!), continuing on by train to Seattle to co-host a weekend-retreat in November (on writing personal manifestos). I’m in conversation about other possibilities further North in Vancouver, as well.

I’ll be writing and sharing stories and my new insights with you the whole time, on the go.

I’d love for you to be a part of this adventure with me. Drop me a note and…

  • connect me with those brave, creative people who (are about to) make that shift, and creating joyful and responsible business. You know, those people who are just fun to hang out with, who like to be open & honest. I’d love to meet them and capture their story.
  • let me know about inspiring places you think I should definitely visit.
  • recommend a Dress-to-Impress outfit so I can steal the show in San Diego
  • rent my camper or apartment in October/ November- – I love to share my stuff when I’m not using it.

Also, make sure you stay up-to-date with how the journey is going by beign one of the first to like my facebook page!

p.s. if you’re intrigued by those creative projects too = I love this episode of Marie Forleo and Chris Guillebeau on The Happiness of a Pursuit, about the joy of having a quest or challenge for yourself.

p.s.s. if you like to define or sharpen your own creative project, then sign up  for the entrepreneurial women retreat before sept 11th.


entrepreneurial women retreat sept 19


What creative project could set things in motion for you?

This is my favorite post from the Shift Forward photography project. I love the way that it creates a moment of stillness for me, to connect with what’s meaningful to me now.

The Shift Forward Photography Project is the latest labor of love from Lianne van Liere, who is coming onboard for the next Women’s Entrepreneurial Retreat that I’m hosting.

Few weeks ago Lianne and I spent 7(!) hours at the beach having a natural flowing conversation. While preparing for the upcoming retreat, we also came up with a new creative project for each of us – one that would stretch us to learn and create what’s alive for us right now.

Not by setting goals and pushing ourselves, but by giving ourselves a creative challenge that playfully sets things in motion.

Lianne felt like taking more time to create, just for the fun and beauty of it.

Not something that would take her a whole lot of time. No, something in alignment with what she felt drawn to already.

As we talked about her unique talents, interests, what was cooking for her right now, the puzzle pieces all fell into place and she decided to challenge herself with a new photography project: to take pictures and share what ‘clicked’ for her when seeing them.

Now two weeks later, she’s enjoying the fun of exploring her world from another perspective and creating more than ever.

I’m constantly inspired by these kinds of projects – the ones that help entrepreneurs and creatives get more in alignment with what’s really alive for them right now, instead of focusing entirely on strategy and the bottom line.

Just to name a few…

Tammy Strobel created a photography project that helped her grief over a loss of a loved one.

Jolie Guillebeau started sharing a new painting every day for 100 days – which ignited her professional life as an artist.

Leo Babauta simplified his life with one challenge every month.

Such a project helps you to do those things needed to foster your creativity, like…

  • creating time every day for something that’s meaningful for you (just sit with it every day, sometimes 15 minutes can do it)
  • consciously changing something in your daily routine
  • being committed to the desired change (by letting other people know about it)

How could this work for you?

What’s alive for you right now? What would you like to learn or change?

What creative project could set that in motion in a playful way?

Something that stretches you enough to get fired up, but also feels like something you just feel like starting.

This can be big or small, in your personal or business life. Like running daily, writing a professional blog or setting an intention to create new connections.

Let me know what comes up for you.

Have a great day,


P.S. Oh hey, this happens to be exactly the main quest of the women retreat this September — if you would like to discover what the perfect project or challenge is for you right now, and how it might impact you and the people in your community, please join us!

P.P.S . Yes, I created a challenge for myself that day on the beach, too — more on that soon…