(Re)Creator of life | Rebel by cause

Becoming Me (looking back 2 years)

It’s been a little over a year when I last stood in line to collect a welfare. I had just traveled 40 minutes to get there. I stood 15 minutes in line, looking at and observing the people surrounding me. I felt confused, “Why am I here?”

Without hesitation I walked away…

I left my money and never contracted them again!

It was October 2015.

2ndLife Curaçao Lampshade, Picture by Valerie Parisius.

I was receiving 160 guilders ($ 89) every two weeks. As long as I came downtown the money was mine. The walk from home the the bus stop, the bumpy travel in an inconvenient public transportation bus  and waiting in line costed me half a day every two weeks. Not to mention the discomfort or the pain getting there. And then back home, dragging my feet. In the beginning I wobbled on two crutches. In the end with only one single cane. I enjoyed my trips for they were a sense of freedom, although the freedom was limited to the state of my physical condition yet the endurance was what would get me stronger, and if I got stronger, (I promised myself) I wouldn’t have to go anymore.

As I turned and walked away, fear and insecurities crossed my path. It was just at the exit, before crossing the street. “That’s still 160 guilders you’re leaving behind dude. You can’t afford stupidity!” But once a Pirate’s mind is set, there is no return. And this had to be done. I was stronger.

I had told my parents a week earlier that I was considering stop picking up my welfare. My business was official since 3 months. I had just won a prize proclaiming I was a “young aspiring entrepreneur” while selling people’s collected garbage back at them with a little paint and effort. I made it neat and shiny. My face had been on the cover of a magazine, I was the opening speaker for a music show. I was chained to a tree to create more awareness for animal care while Humans of Willemstad interviewed me and for a week my social media was crazy! I had this! I thought…

“You got this!”

enforced on myself as I rammed my cain almost through the pavement waiting for the car to pass and I could cross the road of freedom.

“I’m getting my own car! Can’t have a business without a car.”

My mind was on rapid fire in an eerie calm I have felt many times since my accident in 2012.

“I got this!’

A year has passed, I’ve been around Curaçao to Sint Maarten and Aruba. I got my car. I got my business, and it grew. I found fears and I’m scared, I have my insecurities, but… Damn, this feels good! I made friends. I lost money. But, hé! I made it through. I made it better. And I made it even scarier (I need some new boxers…) and the future looks even more promising for I have grown.

tumblr_ofvp5pqgf91qi9bubo1_1280When I doubt, I think of a mother that asked me to make candle holders for her kid’s baptism. A girl visiting from Canada, who told me of the passing of her father. I remember standing between senators of a local organization and hear their laughter. I remember standing on stage telling my story dropping all the weight so this all could start.

I remember picking up my cane that night:

“This is the point of no return. Pick your cane, and stand with pride. You are The Pirate now.”

I get goosebumps thinking of the day I picked up the car keys and drove home in the dark. With my eyes filled with tears, driving, seeing the wheelchair I had left in my room, a couple of years earlier, not willing to touch it. I did the TEDx talk I dreamed of while still in the clinic riding the hometrainer. There are so many snapshots I could fill a book about a lifetime, but I’m not promising that (yet.)

I do, however, remember I promised I would never stop loving. Do I didn’t… Love has brought me here and love will take me further. I have been called many things in my life but only one word stuck when all others shaded. I gave when I had nothing, and I received a world full of LOVE.

So you may guess what more is coming… Just catch and release…

Music of Choice: Matt Simons – Catch & Release (Deepend remix)

There’s a place I go to
Where no one knows me
It’s not lonely
It’s a necessary thing
It’s a place I made up
Find out what I’m made of
The nights I’ve stayed up
Counting stars and fighting sleepLet it wash over me
I’m ready to lose my feet
Take me off to the place where one reveals life’s mystery
Steady on down the line
Lose every sense of time
Take it all in and wake up that small part of me
Day to day I’m blind to see
And find how far
To goEverybody got their reason
Everybody got their way
We’re just catching and releasing
What builds up throughout the dayIt gets into your body
It flows right through your blood
We can tell each other secrets
And remember how to loveThere’s a place I’m going
No one knows me
If I breathe real slowly
Let it out and let it in
It can be terrifying
To be slowly dying
Also clarifying
We end where we begin

So let it wash over me
I’m ready to lose my feet
Take me off to the place where one reveals life’s mystery
Steady on down the line
Lose every sense of time
Take it all in and wake up that small part of me
Day to day I’m blind to see
And find how far
To go

Everybody got their reason
Everybody got their way
We’re just catching and releasing
What builds up throughout the day

It gets into your body
And it flows right through your blood
We can tell each other secrets
And remember how to love

Everybody got their reason
Everybody got their way
We’re just catching and releasing
What builds up throughout the day

And it gets into your body
And it flows right through your blood
We can tell each other secrets
And remember how to love


Turning the page (A Pirate’s Look at 40)

Birthdays have lost their specialty since I was about 12, but last year (2015) I felt the need to celebrate again. It was the last time 30 (39), I had big dreams, big plans and big projects. And, I had a life to honor. I had also walked away from the welfare line just a month earlier, paid myself my first salary (NAf. 500,-), envisioned owning a car and living on my own again. All while growing my own business. I would create job opportunities for me and one, hopefully two, part-time employees and inspire people to do good.

I had no clue what I was getting myself into. (I actually did, but I thought I would handle it better.) I knew it was going to be hard work! Filled with doubts, fear and all the other humane feelings that mess us up when we get scared.

Hello, welcome to the rollercoaster ride of the year.

For the first time in my life I knew that fear couldn’t stop me, slow me down, yes, but nothing stops a man from his determined set goals. I had proven that the years prior. My determination scared me on many occasions and, honestly, still does. It’s like I’m trying to do all wrongs, right, but with good hearted intent and not just for me. I’m turning 40 (I don’t even know how to spell that.) The age is just a page that you keep turning till the book ends. And I know, better than ever before, that I’m on the right track. I’m scared of what is coming and what I can’t control, however I’m not afraid of what I’m capable of and what I will achieve. That is certain! It is not because nobody can stop me, but because I accomplished it already and I’m just continuing on borrowed time. The only failure that remains, is giving up.

With all this in mind, it hurts. I’m hurting. I feel I failed. I feel I’ve lost some parts that I could have won. I know these are “just” human doubts, but still, let me share my thoughts.

I got that car I so badly wished for. I dug in and fought to the teeth till I had it and then lost it to mechanical issues and still haven’t gotten it back. For the first time in my life I had savings, and nothing of them are left. I had the greatest honor to realise a dream, talking at a TEDx event but I felt empty in the end. I guess all accomplishments do because we humans just aren’t easily pleased. As soon as we accomplish a goal we’re already punishing ourselves for the things we didn’t do as expected. And for me that is that I still live with my parents and although that shouldn’t come as a surprise it feels like I failed them, Me, My hope, a part of my dream lost. I haven’t been able to pay myself my salary for 6 months and you would almost think when you read all that, that I have lost faith…

But no! I’m a Pirate and I always find the wind to fill my sails and head into a new course. Just when I thought I was losing my game, my creativity showed that my trust in me is all  I need. Don’t forget, I got that car when it wasn’t likely I would. I got paid playing with other people’s waste. Heck, I’ve been doing this since I was a baby. I danced for many years while there was doubt if I would ever walk straight. (I had to wear braces as a baby to straighten my legs.) I was born to fight. And in that fight I remembered my best weapon, is acceptance. Letting go of what you can’t grasp and embrace what you can hold.

So I got the biggest order from 2ndLife Curaçao‘s existence (215 candle holders), and another dozen to keep me busy. img_20161119_191621This month has broken all records in my book. And if that wasn’t enough, after struggling for two years with international payments, I can finally sell internationally. There is even more that I can’t even tell yet. Or that I don’t feel enough accomplished to really let it count, but what matters most, I have all of you. The thank you’s, the encouragements, the believe and support. It amazes me. It makes me wonder, how can I ever doubt myself?

Yet I do. Pirates are human too.

I might feel I have lost this year because I didn’t achieve my set goals. I’ve won more by the experience collected and stronger for the wisdom grown. I received so much love that it should last a lifetime. I have so much grit, I could Pirate my own ship.

Don’t ever give up on a Pirate, no matter how old. For he will surprise you for what made him the fighter in the first place, his own will. And to grow the seed he planted so she (Debbie) will not be forgotten.

Music of Choice: Jimmy Buffett – Pirate’s Look at forty




The Yoga and I. We are alive.


Yoga… Who would’ve thought…

I haven’t skipped my morning routine for almost two years.

Breathe, stretch, gentle pull, relief, smile. Wow!

During my recovery I needed to re-learn to breathe to deal with my constant pains, to do deeper stretches. To gain strength during (body)weight training. To do this I had to let go of fears, embrace the “good” pains and find a balance. The harmony, as I learned later in my progress. I had no clue, something so basic, so natural would be so powerful. Everything I am capable of, is because I breathe. I breathe deep.

This path has brought me, to me. My inner balance. My inner strength. My inner believe. Yoga is not doing the most impossible postures, Yoga is becoming one with your surroundings. A harmony with acceptance of what is and what’s not and what will come to be.


Nobody can offend me, hurt me or touch me unless I let it happen. Nobody can make me happy, create a smile or make a success of my day unless I, make, or let it happen.

I’m in balance to accept the bad and rule the good.

I’ve started my days the last years with yoga every morning without skipping a day. I don’t need much, sometimes when I need to push it a bit, ten minutes will suffice, for I spend time on me. It’s a high-end investment with simple needs, air and a calm me.

I feel my body and stretch my mind (It’s also my meditation.) Most days it’s 20 minutes and on good days more. I don’t keep a timer, I don’t count moves. It is every breath.
To be so in tune with myself to allow myself to wake in such powerful way, is the best gift I’ve given myself. So I switched it up a notch when my mat started to leave trails of foam around the house. Purple flakes of my mat, everywhere I walked. In October 2015 I bought the Manduka Pro Graphite 85 inch /215.9 cm Yoga mat. And I’ve been in love with a rubber mat since. I cherish it with every touch. As soon as I align my feet on the mat I’m in my zone.


It inspired my favorite work so far as I wanted to build a night altar where I could find rest and knowledge for my busy mind. With the Yin Yang and , came the Hamsa, also known as the Hamesh or the hand of Fatima. It symbolises protection and for me, mostly, protection for knowledge and growing into that person that will grow more beautiful with every lesson learned. Taking the best and most wise with me. My way to brighten my world, protect my love and share my knowledge as a survivor. A creator. I’m not a floater, nor a dreamer.

I live in the here and now and live for a better life that can be shared with many that can’t. Yoga has opened my lungs, my mind, my hips. Yoga has made me grow strong. And if I could give you a gift for life I would love to give you this;

Sit straight or stand tall, close your eyes. Feel, feel your body, your feet, your hands, the air on your skin and breathe. Deep. Deeply, through your nose, till you fill your lungs. Exhale and let go of everything that is within you. Feel it release. Don’t hold back. Breathe again, nose, deep, fill your lungs and feel that joy. That life. That option to choose for you. Breathe. Breathe this way till you conquered all your fears, all your foolishness, and breathe this air full of life. Till the day that you die.

Music of Choice: Istvan SkyThe Butterfly Song

The Song of the Butterfly – Amazing message from the Sky

He talks about the secrets of the healing sounds like this: “The healing sound is born in a deep meditative state. Just sit in silence in nature. Let the ancient cosmic harmony probe deeply into your heart. Breathe slowly and listen to the songs of trees, plants and birds.

Breathe together with spring, be the unfolding flower, breathe together with summer, with the miracle of completeness.

Breathe together with autumn, with the passing of time and breathe together with the quiet stillness of winter. “

It’s just one bad day in a beautiful life

You don’t recover from a spinal cord injury. I don’t, apparently. Do not worry, I know how lucky I am to be alive, and I appreciate every moment for it. I’m lucky to not sit in a wheelchair. Most off all, I am lucky that I know how to deal with physical limitations. How to accept a lesser day and not let my mind control my thoughts. Still…

Some day you wake up and you feel:



You have difficulty getting out of bed or difficulty getting your “engine” running. I have those days too. Those are not the days I’m talking about, but they get as close as it can get. I’m talking about days that I want to get out of bed but my legs feel like spaghetti. That my tailbone feels on fire, my sciatica burns, my head is banging and my energy is just enough to walk from my bed to a chair. Wobbly like a drunken sailor on a ship cleaving through a rough sea.

You won’t hear me say the word hate often, however I hate to be weak, to feel weak. To not have control what you’re about to do. And there isn’t much I can do about that either and that has been an internal struggle for sure. When you feel the earth moving, your legs shaking. Barely being able to stand on your legs for a minute straight while you insert a catheter and aim for the bowl…

Google Search: Self Catherization

I have worked on myself to not let this get to me (as much) anymore. I take these days for what they are. A day to reflect. A day to write or to study. A day of (attempted) rest. To nothing. To feel, and intensely realize I’m human and be ok with being less for a day.

It doesn’t come as easy as it seems, I mean, these are the loneliest of days. These are the days that make you doubt what you are doing and for what? But what if I fight it? What will I gain by resisting if I can win another day?

On days like these you don’t seek answers. You won’t get, what you want to hear or want to feel. You just have to accept: not today. Whatever happens with this day, it’s not lost for I have lived. I have conquered. The pain, my mind, the doubts, the discomfort. I have conquered and tomorrow we shall conquer more but for now, let’s leave it for what is…

It is just a bad day in a beautiful life.

Music of Choice: R.E.M. – Everybody Hurts

When your day is long
And the night, the night is yours alone
When you’re sure you’ve had enough
Of this life, well hang on

Don’t let yourself go
‘Cause everybody cries
And everybody hurts sometimes

Sometimes everything is wrong
Now it’s time to sing along
When your day is night alone (Hold on, hold on)
If you feel like letting go (Hold on)
If you think you’ve had too much
Of this life, well hang on

Pirate’s Wisdom; Extended

I know nothing. All I know is what I know and compared to what I don’t know that’s not much at all.

Every day I go out and discover the day. Every morning, every day. My Pirate Wisdom’s aren’t so much wise as they are a conversation with myself, to myself if you will. Sometimes it’s with the people that surround me, and the noises I hear. It is a discovery of my inner voice.

Words are easily spoken. They’re easier spoken than getting out of my bed early morning. When my muscles are stiff and my body can barely move. The first question that arises “Is today going to be OK, or are you going to be in pain?” It is easier than to learn what you are about to speak, to chose the pain. It’s too convenient to spit words out “I’m not OK.” So I speak from what I know and learn from what I’m about to share. It’s a fear and anxiety to be naked right in front of you. Still, with every post I recycle my words as I’ve done with my life. My lessons are a lesson to myself and I give you a look in how I fight. I can be OK, if I choose so…

I don’t know as much as it might seem. I doubt way more than you’ll hear. I share my fear but with the intend to find (more) strength. I conditioned myself to grow myself with my thoughts. As a teenager I did it the opposite way and saw myself as a poet that was created to be broken and so was my heart. I wrote about loss and misunderstanding. Missing pieces and the lack of love. But that life is no more. If I have the power to feel weak, I have to power to feel strong. So I set on a new path…

This path started from a hospital bed. Bored, lost and angry. It all started with some words on Twitter that I needed to vent. It invested itself on Instagram and than it took flight to Facebook. It wasn’t a Pirate’s Wisdom (yet), for it was just a man sharing his story, releasing himself from his struggle. As everything in life, if you water it, it will grow. So I grew it.  It grew into this, a blog and from there I took on a stage. The stages developed and brought Curaçao, Sint Maarten and Aruba on my path. It was never my intent.

I’m stubborn like that. I love like that. I give my all with passion. 

“It’s better to feel pain, than nothing at all.” 

 So I share and I hope you will share with me.

Music of Choice: The Lumineers – Stubborn Love

It’s better to feel pain, than nothing at all

The opposite of love’s indifference
So pay attention now, I’m standing on your porch screaming out
And I won’t leave until you come downstairs

So keep your head up, keep your love
Keep your head up, my love
Keep your head up, keep your love.

The TEDx Aruba Aftermath; Emptiness.

Picture by Raffy Kock, TEDx Aruba September 23 2016

I feel empty. Almost lost, but mostly just empty. Months of preparations, years of wishing. A build up of emotions, expectations, realizations. The tension that slowly sneaks into your whole being. With a big bang the bubble bursts, the air escapes…

An empty vessel that held all the pressure remains…

It’s not just talking on a red dot, the stage or the attention that comes with it. For me it is the emotions that I canalized to be able to do what I do. Feeling her (Debbie) as a part of it, without being to emotional about it. Realizing a dream that you slowly saw coming into your direction with every step you made, created. Fighting your body that wants to lie down, that wants to sit and rest. That can’t stand all the noise and worse, the white noise. The external movement that won’t let you find a comfort zone and your feel that unrest creeping in your being.

I wanted to address what happened in my life that made me change from an insecure 36-year-old boy to the man I’m becoming. I wanted to honor the one that was lost by her loved ones. I wanted to show the possibilities for the future, if we would care and help each other. I wanted to bring together all that was important to me in a mere 15 minutes.

A TEDx talk isn’t just about you and what you want to bring forth. The organization needs to keep to their vision and program. They have a budget, agreements and partner interests and within that you need to play your part. And it’s not a 15 minute part. It’s discussing, preparing, writing, training and nerve wrecking. It didn’t get so much to me as I would expect but it wasn’t as easy as it might seem. I just handled it with my inner zen.

Preparing my talk, I didn’t feel comfortable talking about being a social entrepreneur. I don’t like labels and certainly not when they’re being put on me. However, I knew there was no escaping it if I really wanted to realize my dream. So I took the label and looking at it I soon realized I had to wear this one. Maybe not as a huge emblem like “look at me now” but as “this is what I’m becoming.”

A dear friend advised me to change my talk about topics more suiting to my situation. Instead I chose to adapt my life to the talk I was about to make and the pressure started cooking…

I needed to become a “Social Entrepreneur.”

As soon as those words were released from my system the universe came knocking. Business partners popped up, dream opportunities where on the table, an intention declaration was signed for two years with a local NGO. And then, my car broke down just before I started to feel an immense burning sensation in my lower part of my body. Urinary infection, again…

“How bad do you want this? Are you sure? Are you strong enough?”

As I spoke to friends about my fear that I’m not being afraid enough, that I’m not scared of failing. I’m scared of not trying hard enough. And then my dearest possession broke down again. My car decided to take the test a step further. The fear was real, it just didn’t seem to have power over me.

Leaving to Aruba was the break I needed to change my perspective. To breathe a different air and refuel my dreams. To increase the hopes for all that is yet to come, to reinforce the possibilities that we (it’s not all just me) can create.

Yet here I sit. Empty. My meter is running low, my energy is gone. My body is sore. But the hope is still strong. I anticipated on this. I know what comes after great success. That feeling of accomplishment. I know that what goes up, comes down. The higher, the harder the fall. Our human minds immediately starts asking “What now? What’s next?” I’ve been through it many times and I call it the “sugar rush aftermath.” I’ve had it when I finally got my car, when I won that price and when I tossed my crutches. I overcame all.

This time it’s different. This time, I remember the words being released from my lips “I will stand on that red dot!” This time I look at her picture and I know I have to let go…

Bigger dreams await me. Beautiful souls surround me. I am the man I should be, now I have to create what I dream. I am scared. I am human. I am thankful.

This emptiness will overflow with love before I know it.

The official transcript: The TEDxAruba Transcript (official)

The TEDx Bucket list: Bucket list, check! #TEDxAruba

Music of Choice: Simply Red – Holding back the Years

Holding back the years
Thinking of the fear I’ve had so long
When somebody hears
Listen to the fear that’s gone
Strangled by the wishes of pater
Hoping for the arms of mater
Get to me the sooner or later

Holding back the years
Chance for me to escape from all I’ve known
Holding back the tears
Cause nothing here has grown
I’ve wasted all my tears
Wasted all those years
And nothing had the chance to be good
Nothing ever could yeah

I’ll keep holding on

Bucket list, check! #TEDxAruba

I pushed myself up from my wheelchair and climbed into the hospital bed, immediately reaching for my journal next to my pillow. As I started, tears wet the paper I was writing on…

✓  Learn to walk again

✓  Become stronger (Forever in progress)

✓  Become wiser (Forever in progress)

✓  Starting a business/Be my own employer (Still in process)

✓  Give an inspirational speech or become a public speaker

✓  Stand on a stage as a TEDx speaker

✓  Get a car/Transportation

  ⃣    Create my own home

  ⃣     Find love

  ⃣     Write my biography

I could walk with two crutches by then. Like a drunken monkey I would throw one feet in front of the other, determined I would grin and sigh and catching every swing with one of my two crutches as my physical therapist stayed close by. This strength was new to me. I always considered myself as weak and insecure, Although I wanted to be strong, I doubted everything I did. The only thing for certain, I was passionate and no matter what, that passion always came afloat. During the physical rehabilitation process, I rehabilitated more than just my body. My mind, was the most crippled part.

I’m still not sure what that passion was about. What for? Why? And why did it come back in everything I had done so far. Well, I figured why. Life. Challenges. I like to conquer challenges. Beating the fear. Not every one, but every one that I considered worthy. Since my standards of worth had changed, elevated by witnessing death. Losing yet another person that I loved. I now wanted to conquer any single doubt I ever had and make my life mine! In honor of her.

Learning to walk, that was just the beginning. Standing one day on a stage telling my story, that would be completion. But why just aim for that, I knew what would come after the sugar rush, emptiness. We are humans, satisfaction is not one of our virtues. So I wrote my list and achieved 7 of the listed topics one by one in four years time. The list has grown, it has been adapted, it has improved, specified. And I have a better vision of how and what I want realized. I’m actually just starting.

Last year standing on a stage at Teatro Luna Blou, telling my story for the very first time, opening the Superando Documentary Concert for Levi Silvanie was my big break, mentally, physically and socially. I don’t like crowds, I can’t stand loud noises (anymore) and having constant physical discomfort I felt like I conquered a mountain the size of Everest, and then again, and again, and again… New challenges kept coming and I kept working on overcoming them. Grow stronger. Grow wiser. Grow into who you want to become!

Rosabella Chuchi Illes visit at 2ndLife Curaçao workshop

A couple of months ago I was visited by an Aruban poet, Rosabella Chuchi Illes, to be part of a video clip she was filming for her book release on Curaçao. I cancelled my plans to be at the book release due to physical pains and not being able to deal with the noise and crowd and yet, her follow-up blew my top off. “Would you be interested to be one of the speakers for TEDx Aruba?” she asked.
And I saw the next bucket list item check mark before I said yes.

September 23rd 2016 I finally had the honor to stand on that red dot and within fifteen minutes I would be able to call myself a TEDx speaker as I had envisioned four years earlier. My body being cold from three days too much air-conditioning, bad sleep due to unknown territory and a noisy hotel and just before I had to go up there was a mic issue…

My heart started raising as I felt the spasms in my left leg return while being wired for the mic. “Not now, not now, breathe, calm, you’ve got this.” Diego Acevedo announced me and the clicker was pressed in my hands and there I went to accomplish another bucket list item. There was no wrong or right, just stand on the dot, control the spasms and look at the crowd…


The TEDx Aruba Experience Full Viewing:

The video starts with one of the speakers from last year. I start at 2.50, however, every speaker is worth listening to so I chose not to edit it yet. I’m absurdly honored to be talking on stage in the midst of these speakers that all have something in common. Talking about something they’re passionate about.

Music of choice: Levi Silvanie – Give It Your Best Shot

This is your life
This is your chance
This is the moment you’ve been waiting for
So give it your best shot
Bring out the best in you
This could be it
Don’t you forget my words and
Don’t you quit
This is your moment
What you’ve been dreaming of
Let it in your heart
And never let it go

Life is wonderful for those who make wonders out of life
Life is wonderful for those who believe
Life is wonderful for those who dare to cross the open seas
Where eyes will see that life is wonderful so give it your best shot

What if…
(Question and film by Seantje Salmon)

The TEDxAruba Transcript (official)


September 23 2016

Life after death. What if…
You took responsibility for your own actions.

4 years ago I witnessed death in my arms and saw what fighting for your last breath of air really was like.

I had been on a dive with my girlfriend and we went too deep for too long. Too irresponsible.


After an emergency ascent I saw her bloodshot eyes, her pale face and her blue lips as she was gasping for air. I was two meters away and my spine was screaming, my longs were burning but the panic in her eyes made me forget any pain I had at that moment. I knew our lives were over as we knew it.

I’ll spare you the horrific details but her last words, “I am dying” as she looked me straight in my eyes, a couple of minutes later, bleached everything to what remained in my memory.

All the feelings, all the pain. I remember all, but that moment was her life last breathe.


24 hours later I was paralyzed. Nitrogen was blocking my spinal cord and I was a partial
paraplegic. I had the bends, caisson disease. I knew as soon as the neurologist said that I might not walk again that my fight had just begun.

Something switched. I had changed. Defying I heard my mind say:

“You don’t know what I’m capable off!”

She had not died so I could feel sorry for myself. She did not fight till her last breath so I could be a hopeless being. I needed to build a new life. And live for two, this time. So I pledged my promise to live for two, for the both of for the rest of my life.

During physical therapy sessions it was soon clear that I would not accept the part of being a helpless man for the rest of my life, however there was no social structure to motivate me, to inspire me or to help me be the strongest I could be.

And then, after seven months I was send home…


After being in a clinic surrounded with people dealing with the same kind of struggles. I was suddenly alone. Very alone. I live in the middle of nowhere. With my parents. Who were at work during the day. So I had some time to think and be confronted with my demons.

Depression finally hit after months of survival. Nine months after death. I was crying for the living.

The questions that kept coming back were:

Had I loved enough?
Had I gave enough?
Had I mattered at all?

Had I really gave it the best I could have given? Could I have saved her? I knew all the answers. I just had to get them clear in my head. For good this time.

I had my responsibility of acceptance.

I had one angel on my side though. My physical therapist, Mirjam. She would really, and I mean really, really, really, push my buttons by telling me I couldn’t go on this way. I had to do something more useful with my life. Survival wasn’t enough. I had to find a job. Deal with the physical pain. Have a purpose. But I was losing hope.

I kept wondering; What if I could take control of life and steered it the way my ship was meant to sail? What if I took control of my life, my body, my future… What if I took responsibility for my own actions? What if I could give meaning to all this? I should have been death, but I wasn’t. Now how am I going to live?

I collapsed on the bathroom floor and cried till there were no more tears left. There in my darkest moment I decided to rise and never fall again. I had made a promise to her.

The next day, while I was stretching my numb limbs on the therapy mat waiting for my physical therapy to begin, I watched an elderly lady, misses Granville, adjust her prosthesis. She was about to stand up from her wheelchair as her physical therapist approached to help her, her words sounded clear as she was talking to me. And she blew life in an idea I was breeding for about a week..

“I might be incomplete, but I can still function”

She said as she brushed the young man off.

And that’s when it hit: Everybody deserves a second chance at life. 2ndLife. 2ndLife Curaçao.

Immediately tons of questions raised. There was a small hiccup, I was lacking the funds. My social insurance pay was a whopping 160,- guilders (less than 80 US dollars every 2 weeks.) How am I going to do something for people who need a second chance at life? How am I even going to help myself?

Sustainability is environment, economy and society.
I wanted to help the society, but I have no economy. The environment, The environment. We are throwing tons away every year. Garbage, money, lives. Garbage, money, lives. It kept repeating itself in my head.

Our environment needs help.640px-sustainable_development-svg_-300x225

Our economy needs help.
Our society needs help.
I need help.

We all need help.

As an old dive, bike and hiking guide the connection was easily made.
I will use garbage, recycle it into money and give the society, people with a disability, a second chance. An unexpected impulse to our economy, nobody can be against that? We will create and give a second chance to each other.

2ndLife Curaçao found its first two suppliers in my mom’s garbage bin and my dad’s yard. With some old paint my business was born. I started collecting glass jars, squash, coconuts and cans. There were tons of cans. Cans are being thrown away daily. Tons. And they can’t be recycled effectively.
But soon I saw trash turn into an art.

20160523_203541My recycled art. I found my purpose. I would recycle life.

With these cans I could bring hope to some dark days and maybe, maybe even more…

Social entrepreneurship, or how I like to call my business; a sustainable enterprise, is easier to create than you think but not as easy to sell. We think too much in limitations and difficulty, that is our human behavior. I know, I did it for years… However, we need to raise our social consciousness.

The first few, respectable, people I pitched my idea to responded with “What are a few handicapped people going to do?” So that’s where the Pirate comes in. I’m good at rebelling at injustice. So I build a social media following that would support my newly created environment and started promoting and selling my “garbage”.


Won a price, stood on the cover of a magazine and even managed to buy me an amazing car that would fit all my cans and crafts.
The only way for us, as a humanity, to become more sustainable is when we raise our standards. Society is not them, it’s us.

Your standards are not just taught, they’re created. By you. And your standards are stuck!

Social entrepreneurs drive social innovations and transformation and it’s finally becoming the trend. While a while back I would be laughed at, I suddenly have restaurants, shops and business owners interested. Not just because it’s the cool thing to do, but they realize how important it is what we leave behind. Some even hope to turn 125 in 70 years and still be able to walk a clean beach and receive a retirement cheque. We are making money with what normally would go to waste.

I’m getting business owners collecting cans, sending their children to learn. Other NGO’s starting to ask questions: How does sustainable thinking work?
It’s a growing global platform with lots of people who are improving our world.
We bring a message of hope and unity.

In the future I hope to have a big work floor filled with people who are recycling materials like cans, pallets and other natural materials in to local art and souvenirs. No social security but a social job to raise their value for life. To raise our society’s value for life.

Sustainable enterprises led by social entrepreneurs is the way to an inspiring future to our young ones. And the most beautiful part is, we can all be part of this.
What if we changed the standards of our society?

We would raise our economy.
We would save our environment
We would create a sustainable society.

There are examples of social enterprises that are over a 100 years old. We should know by know that our society is measured by how we treat our weaker members and the environment we live in.

I am just playing a small part and I still live with my parents. For now…workshop-candle-holder-creator

I’m perfectly happy in the middle of nowhere, where I live. Where I fought my demons and conquered them. I don’t want these stages and bright lights. I don’t care for the meetings and attention. I want that smile from somebody that learned how to improve his or her family’s life. By creating something out of nothing and saving our environment while we’re at it.

I nearly saw two lives slip between my fingers and the world we lived on…

I’m taking responsibility for my own actions.
Please take yours.


NOTE: This was the official transcript for my TEDx talk september 23rd 2016. The whole event can be watched *here* (at 2.50).

Music of Choice: Evanescence – My Immortal

You used to captivate me by your resonating light
Now I’m bound by the life you left behind
Your face, it haunts my once pleasant dreams
Your voice, it chased away all the sanity in me

These wounds won’t seem to heal
This pain is just too real
There’s just too much that time cannot erase

When you cried I’d wipe away all of your tears
When you’d scream I’d fight away all of your fears

If you would like to receive the presentation used, please mail


I love me, but I love us more.

I love us, but we need to have a talk…

Patriotism, religion, politics and ideologies. Lands, churches, schools and neighborhoods. Do you like those borders? Do you like their limitations?They all make or force us to choose sides.  Pick a part. To step across a line to “define” who we are. Where and what we are. Left or right. We let boundaries define our memories. We cast stones and yell, who and which is better. I was wrong too. I’ve taken sides and played my part. But lately I stepped aside and watched from afar. I came to a conclusion and now we need to have this talk!

I am none.  I am all. I am alone. And we, we are together. 

I will NOT be placed in a box, nor will I be contained by (your) boundaries. I’ve fought for my life to be free. To be standing and to be walking again. I raised my standards higher than any standard ever put up for me. And I raise them even higher to help the ones that can’t raise theirs by themselves. I am the ruler of my faith and only I can achieve where I set the standard of my dreams.

I train, study and work harder than ever. I do more, share more and give more than I ever could before. Not because I have to. Nor because I’ve been asked to. I have less than I ever had, yet I am the wealthiest I’ve ever been. I have no more obligations to live other than the choice:



I can’t use your eyes, so I can’t see what you see. I can’t feel what you feel. I’m not you and I don’t wish to be. I have no saying in what you perceive. However, I have the clear choice to show you who I can be. And I am for real.

Hi. I am Andy. I am human(e).

I have made terrible mistakes. I have broken hearts. I have lost lust for life.

I have been a poet, DJ, Salsa dancer, bartender, store manager and youth worker. I’m a business owner, an artist, and a warrior. I have failed the ones that put trust in me and I have helped people who have lost trust in themselves and in life, rise.

I have travelled and I’ve build a home. I lost it all. I will never be perfect and I sure won’t try to seem so. Thank you for your time, your love and your patience.

I appreciate you for who you let me be.


My apologies for what I’ve done wrong. I’ll take credit for what I’ve done right. I am here on this planet to create a better world. Not for me. Not for a political party or my supposedly religious beliefs. I don’t care for your color, your sexual preferences nor your upbringing. I see your sex and embrace, or leave it, as I choose.

I took the obligation to fight as a knight and rebel like a Pirate, both warriors for their cause. I don’t divide. I unite. I don’t listen to Ghandi, Bob Marley or Nelson Mandela. I live them.

If you talk about unity, you need to accept the right to be different!

I respect you for you.

Hello human. I love you. I love me, but our love, means more. So I’m letting go of all our limitation…

Music of choice: Florence and The Machine – You’ve Got the Love

Sometimes I feel like throwing my hands up in the air
I know I can count on you

Sometimes I feel like saying, “Lord, I just don’t care”
But you’ve got the love I need to see me through

Sometimes it seems the going is just too rough
And things go wrong no matter what I do
Now and then I feel like life is just too much
But you’ve got the love I need to see me through


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