My life has been like a windy hike with surprising views, powered by the quest to follow my heart at every turn. Growing up as the daughter of a Holocaust survivor in the Netherlands, the War never seemed far away. Hushed conversations about neighbors who’d been impacted were sprinkled throughout my childhood, and while I was interested to learn more about their history, I biked home from school everyday to watch The Oprah Winfrey Show. I’d sit on my couch and marvel at Oprah’s ability to prioritize the stories of everyone present in her studio, not only of the guests on stage, but also of audience participants. Each time she’d say the line, ‘Everyone has a story,’ my heart lit up.
This love for story followed me, when I studied creative writing, soon graduating and working as a journalist in Amsterdam. When an editor position at a magazine in California opened up, I jumped at the opportunity, and soon found myself acclimating to life in the Bay Area. Within a few years, I’d climbed the ladder and switched gears to publishing, excited to dive into the world of books, but soon felt disillusioned when my days were filled with spreadsheets. My creative side wanted to see the light, so I switched paths again and started teaching writing to local school children and yoga to adults in the community.
It was in both of those pursuits that my career took shape. I found a deep love for teaching the written word as well as mindful movement, and soon started to combine them into workshops, where I covered topics such as body acceptance, boundaries, self-love, intuition and mindfulness. In each one, we went deeper and deeper. The workshops took off and with them my heart soared, often thinking that I was helping to do what Oprah had taught me to do, to empower people’s stories to see the light.
In 2017, I decided to formalize my work and founded Brave Writing Workshops. These are now my signature offering and bring me tremendous joy. Each one involves mindful breathing or movement, prompts to deepen conversations around a topic, and time to write and share. Brave Writing Workshops create safe and inclusive spaces for personal growth and connection through stories. They combine everything I love: storytelling, community, healing, and non-judgmental support. Each one pulls on my depth of knowledge as a writing teacher as well as my professional experience in the craft.
I offer them regularly in person and on Zoom, and will often bring in outside speakers who add to the conversation around writing and vulnerability. In addition, I partner with outside organizations to bring these workshops to wider audiences. Through the process of offering Brave Writing Workshops, I’ve found that many people crave safe and authentic places to connect, and find themselves opening up creatively more than they ever thought possible.