60th Birthday Party Fotos and Speech

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In Japan they say turning 60 is the end of one full cycle, an entire lifetime lived. Now for the reverse, it is about moving towards simplifying and giving away all that you have built up until now.[1] 

I definitely feel I have lived a full life and a full cycle. That is also what gives me a lot of peace in my current situation, I don’t feel I have missed out on anything, I basically have done what I wanted to do, I have realised my dreams, missions and projects. there isn’t a feeling of hunger for life unlived. Which doesn’t mean there are not things I would still like to do or things I would have liked to have done differently from the perspective I have now, or things that I feel sorry or disappointed about that they happened as they did, or didn’t happen as I would have liked them to happen, but that is spilt milk, it is as it is, and it is what I have learned from and what I am still in the process of learning to accept.

Of course now that I have finally put down roots, have found the love of my life, am living in one of the most beautiful towns of the world and in one of the most beautiful neighbourhoods of Amsterdam, and have fulfilled my dream of having a place right on the beach, which we have now with our office in Zandvoort, there is a sorrow, that these fulfilments of my dreams might be rather short lived. and I might not enjoy them as long as I would wish for.

For the first time in my life travelling has lost its appeal. I don’t want to go no where, I am totally happy where I am, I love our two homes and locations.

My cancer and the whole process it has put in motion has enriched my life. I am not saying there has been no suffering involved, especially the 6 weeks of pain I went through recently, and I still am in no position to embrace pain or feel it has anything to teach me. I am deeply happy that the Dutch medical system is far developed in pain treatment as I have recently experienced. The pain is really under control now and that is just heavenly.

What I am saying is that I have had a chance to let go of certain fixations and personality structures, they just melted away, with a diagnose of cancer priorities simply change. I have experienced the last half year as a process of becoming more open and transparent, of my heart opening up to give, receive and hold more love, a bigger willingness and capacity for honesty and to share, a growth of surrender and basic trust. and a greater capacity to consciously enjoy and celebrate life.

The relationship between Marieke and myself has deepened and we enjoy and appreciate each other even more, have grown more patient and even more loving with each other.

I have received so much support, caring and love from family, neighbours and friends from near and far, it has just been overwhelming and totally heart warming. I think this is the period in my life where I have most felt held and not alone. And what an enormous local and international network it turned out to be who are genuinely concerned about me and showed in many ways that they truly care about me. This has really touched my heart and it has also been very healing, and has supported me in uncovering and dealing with the self sabotage and self doubt, the feeling of not being worthy, not enough, and not loveable as I am, that underlies so many of my personality structures and behaviours. Having experienced so much love, caring, connectedness and community has supported me immensely in my inner process. These have been huge gifts. And this is why I chose “Living Community” as the motto for my 60th birthday party.

Coming back to the Japanese perspective of giving away what you have built up until now I realise this is really happening, especially in the life long involvement I have had in my social engagements, particularly in the Mother Center movement, but also in regard to the innovative seeds I have planted together with Marieke in the Netherlands. This is a challenging process, but also here my illness is really helping me.

What I want to give away now to all of you is the gratefulness, appreciation and joy I feel for you being my friends, family and part of my community, many of you are spiritual companions and community, sharing the spiritual school and path I feel at home in, which has contributed so much to my inner growth and balance, the development of trust and to truly experiencing myself as more than my personality.

What I would lastly like to share with you are the values and visions that have guided my life and the many projects, social movements, and missions I have been involved in. I have really worked very hard on making the world a better place and that has been a huge focus of my life. I was a student movement activist in ’68 in Frankfurt, worked for a year at the Opel automobile factory in Ruesselsheim to revolutionise the working class, was a founding member of the feminist movement in Germany, sang in the legendary first women’s rock band “Flying Lesbians”, was in the research team that designed the idea and concept of Mother Centers, which since has turned into an international movement with more than 850 Mother Centers now in 20 countries worldwide, where I continued to stay a driving force. And I founded the Grassroots Women’s International Academy (GWIA), a peer learning format for international grassroots movements. In the last years after we founded mine (Mother Centers International Network) Marieke and I together provided a lot of the hand holding and parenting needed to get such an international network off the ground. And the business M&M Marieke and I founded here in the Netherlands is dedicated to social innovations in the field of community building and urban planning. Some of you know me from these different undertakings of my life and we have worked together on various projects and missions. Others of you know me more as the “private” Monika. But for you all I would like to state and share what I have distilled as the values and visions that have been driving me in my many projects and countless activities all these years. I would like to pass them on to present and future generations. And as a vision of further development I also hold for myself I would like them to be expressed and acted on in a union of social activism and spiritual awareness.

I envision a world where the goddess returns, where the female is more prevalent and powerful, where female values determine public life, and where the culture of care has priority in public decision making and budgeting.

Where community and social cohesion is at the base of social, political as well as economic development.

Where civic society and self help groups become true and equal partners in governance.

Where grassroots knowledge and participation is acknowledged, supported and influential. Where new forms of knowledge management secure that informal learning and life experience enter as valued component into public education and grassroots expertise becomes a recognised part of public knowledge.

And where social activism and spiritual guidance and presence have become one.

So these visions are my toast as we get to the part of the party where we raise our glasses and share a glass of champagne/cava together.


[1] This was conveyed to me by Anne Thomas, a good friend of Marieke currently living in Japan