This girl listens to trees

Wherever I go, I always notice trees. I think they are nature’s greatest wonders and we can learn so much about life just by observing trees and their seasonal transformation.
I have discovered some beautiful spots in and around Haarlem where I can go to spend time with trees.
Sometimes I am not alone (often I have my son with me) or I appreciate a beautiful tree through a window while I am indoors. However, I really treasure the moments when I am alone with them.
This ritual has become an important self care activity. Some people go for facials and manicures, I head for the trees.
In this environment I often find it easier to seek inner wisdom about life’s difficult questions and my inner struggles. It is an opportunity to connect with the earth and myself again. I don’t need to engage in articulate conversation. All I have to do is sit quietly, observe the beauty around me and listen to my heart. Trees teach stillness so well.

I think life is like a tyre’s tread. When a tyre hits a few bumps in the road it needs realignment to run smoothly again and prevent damage to the tyre. This also happens to people. When I feel that my soul is restless and things just don’t seem right I like to spend time in nature to find realignment and new perspectives.

Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. – Hermann Hesse

One of the most significant lessons I’ve learnt from trees is their ability to let go. Have you ever noticed how gracefully trees change colour and lose their leaves? They seem so at ease with embracing change.
Learning to welcome change – whether it is positive, negative or a bit of both – has improved my quality of life. I’ve realized that the universe always brings the change when I am ready for it and need it. Moving to another country is the biggest decision I’ve ever made. Uprooting 17 years of adult life in one place wasn’t easy but it also wasn’t difficult because the time was right to see what else the universe has planned for me.

There is great freedom in letting go. It could be a person, a relationship, a job, a career path, a home country or material possessions – all of these have applied to me at some point in my life. Letting go gives me so much freedom to discover new places, different ways of thinking, new people and ultimately a new life.

If you want to read some of my previous posts on trees, freedom and new beginnings, click on these links:

Things you learn on this journey called life


In the past four and a bit years I’ve learnt so much about life. You might wonder why four? Well, four years ago my son was born.

I went from being a relatively carefree 29-year-old to become an instant mom in about 45 minutes. Matthew has been my greatest teacher in life – he’s showed me how to love and how to feel emotion again.

Mango juice in a jar.

A photo posted by Wilma den Hartigh (@painted_heart_diaries) on Jun 13, 2015 at 12:52am PDT

But there are also a few other truths I’ve picked up along the way:

  1. Do what you love and follow your heart. Always.
  2. Don’t let the noise of the world drown out your inner voice.
  3. Listen to your inner voice. It is always right.
  4. Trust your journey. People might not get it, but that’s okay. It’s not theirs.
  5. Be happy with less. There is freedom in simplicity.
  6. When things get rough, remember how far you’ve come.
  7. Stay close to the things that make you feel alive.
  8. There is unbelievable freedom in not caring what people think about you.
  9. Be badass. Don’t wear boring clothes. Surround yourself with people who get you.

Celebrate the gift of life


I’ve discovered these awesome little Buddha Doodles. I subscribed and they drop into my inbox each day. Buddha Doodles was started by a cartoonist in 2011 as a daily sketch practice for personal therapy. It quickly went viral in social media and appears regularly on the Huffington Post and Tiny

I liked this one – it reminds me that I have a beautiful life. And I treasure every minute of it, even though there are some difficult days (weeks…months). It is a privilege to be alive. I can stand outside in my garden and appreciate a beautiful sunset. I can walk in the park with my family. I can see my son grow. I am fortunate to have the most amazing life partner. I have enough. I am enough.


Crying. We all need to do it.




I thought this is quite wonderful. It offers an interesting perspective on something I’ve always struggled with. I’ve never liked crying in front of people. It always made me feel so vulnerable (and it still does, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, I think it is a sign of strength). I always felt so defeated and weak when I cried. I guess this is what happens when you spend years growing up in a family where it is just not okay to show emotion.

But then I started changing my perspective on this. I am still cautious around people I don’t trust (and I think that is a good thing, it is important to guard your heart), but I’m starting to feel more comfortable about crying. It doesn’t mean I’m weak, it is a sign that I am alive, human, in touch with my emotions and that I have the ability to feel things. That doesn’t sound like a bad thing at all, actually. I would even say crying is really necessary. Crying cleanses the heart and soul. And let’s face it, life can suck and sometimes what you need is a really good cry. It is so freeing that I can allow myself to do this now.