Although I never thought of myself as courageous, I have always had loads of determination. That is why I completed my honours and master’s degrees in educational psychology Cum Laude. However, there is more to life than degrees.
I was the eldest of four children. Two of my siblings had degenerative hearing loss. The disability was a struggle for them, and I felt guilty for being able to hear, even as an adult. We moved on many occasions. I attended eight different schools and always was the new kid. As a result, I was extremely shy and lonely.
When I was 13, my mom was diagnosed with major postpartum depression. It proved to be quite a challenge for our little family. Fortunately, after two relapses in later years, she recovered well.
I met my husband in a choir where we both sang. Soon we were engaged and got married. Those were the happiest days of my life. Our house was filled with fun and laughter. The addition of our two kids filled my heart to the fullest. They were both strong-willed children. So, I had to challenge myself continuously to think creatively about raising a child. Their teenage years were interesting!
Shortly after having our kids, I completed my psychology studies and started a private practice. During those years, I learned about the fragility of people. But I also learned about the courage and strength that people display during tough times. I still have great empathy and great respect for my clients.
When my husband and I turned fifty, our kids left home to work and study. We decided to buy a farm where we could retire. I became a farmer and part-time psychologist while my husband continued his consulting business. That was a major change of scenery. We had a self-catering guesthouse and a few cattle and sheep. I researched everything about farming that I could think of. It was a steep but interesting learning curve. It was also hard work. Burning fire breaks was my least favourite task.
We lived and dreamt on the farm for five years. Then my husband was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. He was a brave man. I am not so sure that I was a brave wife. His body deteriorated for 7 months. He passed away late one evening in December. My already crumbling life fell apart.
The way I deal with trauma and stress is by working. And that I did. Suddenly I was responsible for everything. I learned to fix various machines. I built facilities for the goats I bought. And I installed electric wires to keep the goats in their camps. At night I cried. I kept at it for another 5 years, and then I left. The farm was our dream. I had to find a new dream for myself.
It has been 10 years since my dear husband passed away. During the last few years, I have developed new modules for a university. I have also been an e-tutor for students. I returned to teaching mathematics at a school for blind and visually impaired children. And instead of going back to pure psychology, I started to coach people who struggled as I did.
Looking back now, I realize we underestimate our inner strength and bravery. It takes courage to do all the difficult things when sometimes all you want is to cry in bed. That means that we all can be courageous. But we must be willing to change.
So, welcome to the Klaen! Together we support each other.