About Sandra Hoekstra

Posts by Sandra Hoekstra:


This weekend I finished my master practitioner NLP. Yes, I rock! I have been stretching out of my comfort zone a LOT during these days and it was so totally worth it. I knew the only way to get the most out of it was to be really open and honest. Well, that was a nice stretch (I am soooo flexible 🙂 ) and guess what, it paid off. And people let me know that they appreciated me opening up, that it was inspiring and encouraging to open up themselves. What an eye-opener. I could actually do something for others by just helping and being myself. And by opening up I gave them a chance to get to know me, which improved my relationship with them.

At the end of the last day, we got a goodie bag in which everyone had put a little something that expressed their appreciation. I got a lot of kind, loving and uplifting words. And as in the practitioner training, it made me realize once again how beautiful everyone is in their own unique way. All those beautiful people created an environment in which I felt safe enough to open up myself and share things that are challenging for me. And all of them responded with such kindness and let me know they appreciated me for who I am.

BeYOUtiful! I don’t know who came up with this, but I think it’s brilliant. It says it all. You are beautiful by just being your own beautiful self. When you can see your own beauty, you can see the beauty in others as well. How will the world look like when we are all able to see that beauty? I wish for everyone to discover their own beYOUtiful self.



Celebrate success

I’ve been pretty busy lately, so I’m a little bit behind with my poetry course. But that’s ok, I do it for fun so I can do it in my own pace.

Week 2 was about the form and sound of the poem. The assignment was to create to take a few words/short sentence and create a poem by rhyming certain sounds/letters from that sentence.

So, first I had to come up with the words I wanted to start with. At first I thought that was going to a little bit challenging, but all at once the phrase “celebrate success” came to mind. This phrase is very important to me, because I need this constant reminder that I have to celebrate every success, no matter how small it may seem to me. This weekend I realized I tend to look at the bigger picture and that causes me to lose sight of the small steps I need to take to get there.

I wrote down “celebrate success” and started associating and came up with these words: embrace, embarrass, exceed, exhale, succeed, excel, expectations, excuse, succumb.

Then I tried to make something out of this that and this is what I ended up with.


Celebrate success

exceed your expectations
no excuses
just embrace
your excellence


Without saying this is or isn’t poetry, I like what came out of this exercise. I had never done this before and it was really fun doing it.

And to everyone who can use this reminder: celebrate your successes and embrace your excellence!


Peace, love & yoga

Do you ever intend to really do something, but then make up like a million reasons to not do it right now? I do 🙁 . About two weeks ago I finally started doing yoga again, after a pause of, well, I think a year. I was planning on going, but I made up all sorts of reasons not to. When I finally did go, it was just so good, that I really didn’t understand why I had been postponing this for so long.

Peace, love and yoga, those words are on the wall of the yoga studio I attend. I like it, because (to me) it’s twofold. In my view, all the world needs is peace, love and yoga. The world would be such a better place if we had this everywhere around us.
On the other side, for me personally, I find peace and love within myself by doing yoga. Physically it relieves the pain in my neck and shoulders and my lower back, which is love and care for myself. Mentally, it brings me peace of mind. It’s kind of a mental massage, I just love it and moreover I really need this. I need this to strengthen myself against my own negative thoughts and to relax my mind. Even if I’m thinking about good stuff, it seems as if my mind is just working overtime and it’s just exhausting. The yoga gives my mind the quiet and rest that it needs.

Doing yoga makes me feel good, both physically and mentally, which gives me more energy. This made me realize how import it is to me that I do this at least once a week. And that means for the rest of my life.

What I like about yoga is that anyone can do it. No matter what level you’re at, you can always do yoga. And maybe it’s not for everyone, I don’t know. It may seem and feel weird when you try, but I definitely do think it’s worth a try! Maybe give it a thought, or not 🙂 .


Challenge words

Every week Lisa has a spelling test at school. She gets a list with 8 mandatory words and 2 challenge words. Those challenge words a little bit more difficult, but she has a choice whether or not to write them down during the test.

In my life there are a lot of challenge words. The past weekend my challenge word was: presentation. In my NLP training I needed to interview 3 people and together with several other people who choose the same topic (personal growth) we had to present to the rest of the group what we had learned. I knew this was coming and I had been dreading this moment from the beginning. I also had a choice. I could’ve chosen not to do the presentation and stay nice and safe in my comfort zone. But where would that get me? So, the only option was doing the presentation. The closer it came, the more I dreaded it.

It was challenging for our group to agree upon certain things and one person came up with a brilliant idea: a news show. A news show has different segments, so everyone could tell in their segment what they thought needed to be said. It worked perfectly (except some technical difficulties that challenged our flexibility 🙂 ).
Finally the moment had come. When I drove over there that morning, I was a bit nervous, but at the same time I felt very calm, I was going to nail this, no doubt about it. When we were up, I was still nervous, my hands were shaking a little bit, but the funniest thing happened… I actually enjoyed it! That was the weirdest thing. The moment I had been dreading for so long turned out to be really fun?! Something I would’ve missed out on had I chosen to stay in my comfort zone.

So, if you have some challenge words yourself coming up, take them on. Know that it’s perfectly ok to be nervous or maybe even dread it, but take a deep breath and get out of your comfort zone. No matter the outcome, you have been successful just by doing it. And who knows, it just might turn out to be fun.


Poetry, go with the flow

It’s been a while, but I intend to write on a more regular basis. Unfortunately I have a tendency to procrastinate 🙁 . Anyone know a good remedy against that? If you do, please let me know.

To get myself doing something I signed up for a MOOC. MOOC stands for Massive Open Online Courses. These are free online courses offered by universities around the world. The course I enrolled in is called: How writers write poetry. A couple of years ago I never would have thought I might ever get an interest in writing, let alone writing poetry. Isn’t life great 🙂 .
My course started this week. It was about journaling, to takes notes whenever, wherever and about whatever you can and writing 1,2,3 or 4 line poems.

For starters I bought myself yesterday a small notebook to take with me in my purse and make notes whenever I can. I already have one next to my bed. Somehow the best thoughts seem to pop up in my mind in the middle of the night, which can be pretty annoying by the way.

This weeks assignment was to write a 1,2,3 of 4 line poem, this is what I wrote.

Growing pains

It’s the middle of the night
soft steps, crying
her gentle touch
Mom, I have growing pains.

Every word matters

This past weekend was the fifth weekend of my NLP training. Again, it was a very interesting weekend with interesting insights. Good insights this time, not like the last time 🙂 .

On Saturday, we started the morning with a chance to tell about our experiences over the past month. There were some people with amazing stories about how they changed their behavior and as a result got a great opportunity. I felt intimidated, I’m just struggling to be me and make it through the day.
But then someone else got up and told us she had this same feeling, but that she wanted to recognize the steps that she made and that these were important as well. I’m so grateful that she did. Because of her, I realized that it’s not important whether my steps are “big” or “small”, hell, they’re only “big” or “small” because I define them like that. So, I’m gonna stick with steps and I want to recognize the steps that I made. I want to be aware that I made these steps even though it wasn’t always easy and I want to thank myself for doing that and tell myself I did a good job.

Have you ever noticed how a lot of people treat themselves not nearly as kind as than they would treat a friend? I used to say things to myself I would never ever say to a friend. But why be kind and loving to a friend, and not to yourself? That doesn’t make sense. So, I’ve decided to treat myself as I would treat a friend. And if a friend would have made these steps, I would be proud of her and tell her she did a great job. So, instead of telling myself I did almost nothing and what I did is so unimportant, I tell myself I made some great steps and that I’m proud of myself.

So, that morning I got up and stood in front of the group and told them about me, realizing I was depressed again, about the steps I took and how I decided to acknowledge my steps and be proud of myself. I was so proud of myself that I did that and I got some really heart warming responses.
Being open to other people has made a big difference for me. It’s still not always easy yet, but I’m getting there.

This weekend was all about Language and Behavior patterns and how every word counts. If you thinks about it, that makes sense, but how often do you really think about what you’re saying to yourself and others? At least it made me realize that I need to speak to myself as I would to my best friend, that will make life a whole lot easier for me. And for you?
Remember, every word matters.

Happiness depends upon ourselves

Happiness depends upon ourselves.

The other day I read a really inspiring story that illustrates this perfectly. I think this is such a beautiful story that I wanted to share this. To me it’s a real inspiration and maybe it will be for others as well.

Old age is like a bank account.

The 92-year-old, petite, well-poised and proud lady, who is fully dressed each morning by eight o’clock, with her hair fashionably coifed and makeup perfectly applied, even though she is legally blind, moved to a nursing home today. Her husband of 70 years recently passed away, making the move necessary.

After many hours of waiting patiently in the lobby of the nursing home, she smiled sweetly when told her room was ready. As she maneuvered her walker to the elevator, I provided a visual description of her tiny room, including the eyelet sheets that had been hung on her window. “I love it,” she stated with the enthusiasm of an eight-year-old having just been presented with a new puppy.

“Mrs. Jones, you haven’t seen the room …. just wait.”

“That doesn’t have anything to do with it,” she replied. “Happiness is something you decide on ahead of time. Whether I like my room or not doesn’t depend on how the furniture is arranged, it’s how I arrange my mind.

I already decided to love it. It’s a decision I make every morning when I wake up. I have a choice; I can spend the day in bed recounting the difficulty I have with the parts of my body that no longer work, or get out of bed and be thankful for the ones that do.

Each day is a gift, and as long as my eyes open I’ll focus on the new day and all the happy memories I’ve stored away, just for this time in my life.”

She went on to explain, “Old age is like a bank account, you withdraw from what you’ve put in. So, my advice to you would be to deposit a lot of happiness in the bank account of memories Thank you for your part in filling my Memory bank. I am still depositing.”

And with a smile, she said: “Remember the five simple rules to be happy:

1. Free your heart from hatred.
2. Free your mind from worries.
3. Live simply.
4. Give more.
5. Expect less

(I would like to give credit to the person who wrote this story, but unfortunately I don’t know who that is, I got the story from www.e-communicatie vanuit het hart.nl).

I really love the part where the old woman says that she has already decided to like it. I love it, I want to be like her! I’ve decided that, whenever I find myself thinking of difficulties (which of course, I rarely do  🙂 ) I will think of this story. Remembering that I have so much to be grateful for, making the choice to be happy, to love my life. Not just for me, but also for my beautiful daughter (we learn by example, don’t we).

To some people positive thinking may come easier than to others, but I’m convinced everyone can learn it if they really want to. It may not come easy, it may not happen overnight, but if you do something long enough, it will become a habit. Just remember, success is getting up one more time than you fell.
Struggling with depression and being raised in a family where more people were suffering from depression, or at least had a less positive view on the world, has made it, well… slightly less easier for me. Still, I can make the choice to be happy and love myself and my life. I may step into the pitfall of depression again, but as long as I’m aware of it, I can fight it. Even if I will never be the most optimistic person around, it’s ok, just as long as I can be happy with what I have.

One thing I already do every night, is to think of at least three happy/positive things that happened that day. At first I thought this was difficult, but then I realized I was looking for big things when actually I should be looking for everything, no matter how seemingly small. Ever since, I come up with lots of things.

I am going to be like this old lady! Maybe not today, but I certainly can make my best effort. And if I keep on doing it, it will become a habit. A habit that I will gladly teach my daughter.

That one moment

That one moment

You know
that moment.
That one moment
shattered glass
broken pieces
stinging pain.

Expected not

Things                                                        have happened
that should not
Words                                                                          said
that were not supposed to be

Final sale,
not to be taken back.

Life off course
go stop
downside up
black hole


That one moment
if not yet
we all meet

The Inevitable

I love you dad!

Before we left the Netherlands almost two years ago, we had a small ‘goodbye party’. During this party my dad was very emotional. I had never seen him like that, but I thought it had to be due to our move, why else?

Two days later my father’s girlfriend called. She told me my dad was diagnosed with prostate cancer. He didn’t want to tell, because he didn’t want to bother us, but she had convinced him that he should tell before we left. For that I’m still very grateful to her. I had two more days in the Netherlands and now I was able to go see him before we left (because I had not planned to go there anymore before leaving).

A couple of months later, he had surgery. The operation went well, and everything seemed to be as good as could be considering the circumstances. But after about ten months, his test suddenly showed increased blood levels. Last summer he received radiation treatment. It was supposed to kill the cancer cells, but when they tested his blood, his blood levels had not changed. It had not gone up either, so that was at least something, but still, it should have dropped. For about 25% of the people the levels will still lower in the following couple of months, so there was still hope.

This week he got the results of his latest blood test. The blood levels had doubled. It was a shock. Of course you know it’s a possibility, but in my mind it never really was. Worst case scenario it would have stayed the same. Reality hit and it hit hard.

When I was talking to him, I realized I couldn’t even remember the last time I had told him I love him. I guess I always assume he knows. And I’m sure he does, but isn’t hearing it so much better than knowing? And I don’t know how many more chances I will get to tell him. When you think about it, you never know. To me it’s a reminder to let the people I love know that I do, because it might be the last chance. I’m not saying you should fear this moment all the time, but I do think every now and then it’s good to realize what you have and that you should treasure it. Life’s a rollercoaster and it’s so easy to get caught up in the moment, absorbed by things that, in the end, don’t really matter. If you love someone, tell them so, don’t just assume they know, even if they do.

I love you dad!

The meaning of your communication

We communicate every day, but how often are we consciously aware of what we say, how our words are received and what impact they have? I think most people don’t give it much thought, just assume that everyone understands what they’re saying, until something goes wrong. Or maybe it’s just me 🙂 .

As I mentioned before I’m in a NLP training (if you do what you did, you will get what you got). NLP is based on several presuppositions and one of them is: the meaning of your communication is the response you get. You are responsible for getting your message across the way you intend it. A lot of people hold the other person responsible for not correctly understanding the message. Isn’t that nice and easy, it’s the other person’s fault, not their own. In NLP you take the responsibility if someone else didn’t understand the message. You take a closer look at what you said, check how your message was received and … try again.

My post Call me crazy got the following response “Please don’t blame anyone who doesn’t understand it, even for yourself it is difficult to understand and to accept. People indeed have no clue, thank god, so even if they want to help you they have no idea how. Usually this ends up in trying to give someone a positive vibe, a peptalk. Don’t shut them out and don’t feel hurt”.

When I read this, the first that came to my mind was: “Don’t blame anyone? Where was I off in my communication?” Ohhh, I am so practicing NLP (it could also be my uncertainty, but I prefer to think I’m getting good at this NLP stuff). I was surprised, because I never blamed anyone. In fact, I’m convinced that each and every one had good intentions (though that doesn’t make it less painful). In the past I probably would have freaked out, convinced that person would hate me 🙂 . Now, I was just curious. Most people seemed to have taken it the way I intended it, so when I got this response I really wanted to know what triggered it. Did I say something that could be taken in a different way, did I omit something crucial? When you write something, you know all the in ands outs and it’s easy to omit something because you assume it will be clear or you think people know. But someone else who does not know everything there is to the story might lose you and interpret it the way it makes most sense to them.

I really wanted to learn more about this interpretation, so I asked what exactly it was that lead to the interpretation that I blamed anyone. The answer was that ‘blame’ may not have been the correct term. The intention was to say it wouldn’t do me any good to worry about how people responded to me because it is their inability to understand. This was something I didn’t get out of the initial response. Isn’t it fascinating how we all have our own filters through which we experience and interpret the world and words in different ways? Maybe you have siblings and when you talk about something that happened in your youth you discover that they had a (totally) different experience. It may even be so different that you start to wonder if you’re really talking about the same thing. Really, when you think about it, it’s a miracle our communication works out most of the times.

Honestly, I think communication should be taught in schools. Everyone should learn about the impact of their communication, different ways to communicate, to say what they want in a clear yet respectful manner, give their opinion in a constructive way. I think people would be much more understanding and respectful towards one another. No, it still wouldn’t be a perfect world, but it would definitely be a step in the right direction.
So maybe, the next time someone misunderstands you, it might be interesting to see what they heard and what you could do differently so they do understand… or not…