Annabel is 26 years old. She is a musician and illustrator and lives in Bali for half of the year. The other half of the year she lives in Amsterdam where she is at the moment, to follow a yin yoga teacher training and to finish her first album.  We met up with her in a cafe in Eindhoven, last October.

A different turn

Just this morning I was flipping through some of my old journals from a few years ago and realised how much I’ve changed, how different my thoughts were back then. My life took a different turn at a time when many things came together. It was at a time when my body wasn’t able to keep going and my energy levels were very low. At the same time my brother passed away. And I decided to quit my degree at the Design Academy in Eindhoven. Something really shifted. I was completely thrown into the ‘now’ and all of a sudden I was able to say ‘no’ to people. There was more space to listen to what my heart really wanted.

I remember I asked myself the question; ok, what is it I want to do? What do I want my day to look like? You might want to do something creative but this may mean being stuck behind a computer 10 hours a day. So what do I really want? How does that feel? I think the shift in my life started with me asking these questions.

Sense of safety

I always knew I wanted to go to Bali, although I didn’t know why. It was an instinctive feeling. I had just booked my ticket, but then my brother passed away. Sometimes you may want something really badly, but it just isn’t the right time. If I would have gone then, I wouldn’t have been ready. I didn’t want to use traveling as an escape. So I stayed in Holland and moved to Amsterdam, where I got a atelier and an apartment. This gave me more creative freedom to start drawing and illustrating, which is the work I am still doing today. Three years later I was doing well and felt I regained a certain balance and strength. At that point I knew it was time to leave.

I didn’t go to Bali straight away, but packed my bags and went to Spain first. To deal with chaotic life in Spain, I started meditating every morning. Meditation brought me a new best friend. I realised I was never alone, I always had myself with me. This meant I could travel wherever, but always feel my own presence and create a space where I could feel at ease. This sense of safety within myself was key to being able to take new steps. This next step was Bali.

Two worlds

I’ve been living in Bali off and on for a couple of years, usually being there 6 months of the year and spending the other half of the year in Amsterdam. When I’m in Bali I experience calmness, space, it’s easy to lean into the flow. Everything happens organically. Being in Amsterdam it can be tough holding on to that feeling. But being here is what I need right now. Doing the teacher training, finishing my first album, working on my art. And I know now, after all those years, that wherever I am, I always need to be surrounded by nature. The plants and simply being outside helps me to recharge and feel connected with myself.

My challenge at the moment is the amount of work I am physically able to do, as I still have to take my energy levels into account. What could help realise all that I’m focussing on right now is finding a place to live in Amsterdam, a good acupuncturist, therapy for my brother’s death, starting up a crowdfunding to help release my album and doing a yoga training, which actually just started. 

Relating to society 

How do I relate to society? I used to feel disconnected, at the outer bounds of society. But I noticed that the more distance I thought I was taking, the closer I felt to others. Creating more space for myself allows me to make a deeper connection with the people around me. I wouldn’t want to be an example, but in a sense I feel like I can touch something in others that brings them closer to their own truth.

What is energy? Everything. When I think of energy it calms me because I know nothing is fixed.

Follow Annabel via instagram or visit her website