I love writing.
My first book was published in August 2015 and is called The Master’s Compass. To read more about The Master’s Compass, to view its illustrations and to purchase the book, please go to its website. You can also find it on Amazon.
In between work and study – when I am naughty and want to escape responsibilities – I am working on more books:
- ‘The Smell of Sunshine – and other stories about a new life in Australia’
- ‘My Beautiful Heart – Human Love in Divine Awareness’
- ‘De Ren-Je-Rot Tussenstand – Feest der herkenning voor 50-jarige middenklasse-meisjes uit de provincie’ (in Dutch, about my wonder-full Dutch youth)
I illustrate my books too.
Early 2016 Miriam launched her first book The Master’s Compass in Berkelouw Books & Café Hornsby, Sydney. It was a night to remember. There was an interested audience, there were speakers, the book and the author were praised, copies were sold and signed, and a raffle was held to give away door-prizes – it was festive, warm, and – finally – a dream come true for the author.
Here’s what was said and done during the night of the book launch:
Miriam van Keulen
‘Hello everyone and thank you so much for coming. I feel so honoured to have you all here. A couple of years ago, when I first moved here from the Netherlands, I didn’t know any of you. It is quite amazing how, in a short amount of time, you get to know so many beautiful people, who make the effort to travel to a place like far-away Hornsby, to be here. I’m so pleased, and I feel blessed. Margaret, for example (looking at Margaret), I have only just met you now. Roberta (looking at Roberta), we have only met on Christmas Eve, on the ferry. There are many people here that I have just met somewhere, and it clicks. We have a nice feeling together, and there’s an instant friendship. It doesn’t matter that we haven’t known each other for a long time. It is a bit funny not to have my relatives and Dutch friends here, not to have my Mum here, although she is present in the flowers that she sent (pointing at the Stargazer Lilies in the corner) – they were a great surprise. She would have loved to be here.
‘My book is dedicated to my Nan. I used to call her Bonma, short for Bonne-Maman, Grandmother in Belgian – she lived in the south of the Netherlands. She reached the age of ninety-five. She had always taught us, all her children and all her grandchildren, to live from the heart. Whenever I would go to her and ask her, ‘what do I have to do with this problem?’, she would always say, ‘follow your heart, do as your heart inspires you to do’. Years later, when I became a coach, I would say this to people, but I would realise that you can say that, but you don’t necessarily need to know how to do it.
‘How do we follow the heart? In this time, many people say, ‘we must live from the heart, we have to work from the heart, because then we’ll have a better life, businesses will work better, and we’ll be more fulfilled,’ but as long as we don’t know how to do it, it’s just words. So, it has been my intention to put together in a book a four-step plan to make it easy to grow some awareness for how to do that.
‘The sub-title is: a journey beyond thoughts and feelings into the heart of power, wisdom and love. We want to go beyond our thoughts. We want to go beyond our feelings. Even the feelings are often a product of the thoughts. Even the feelings are not always true. They don’t always guide us in the right direction. For instance, an obvious emotion such as fear, doesn’t need to be a valid emotion. I, in this moment, feel fear. But would I now have to run away, get into my car, and hide? No. I don’t listen to this fear. I realise I have it, I welcome it – yes, I acknowledge you, I have you, I am here with my fear; public speaking is a number one fear that I have – I have this fear, I look at it inside, and I decide what I want to do with it. Do I want to follow it up, do I want to express it/ share it, or do I want to let it go? Then, once I know how to do the latter, I can go beyond the fear, or through it, and I can come in my heart-space, where that beautiful trinity of power, wisdom and love resides. Once I connect with that, and once I don’t buy into my thoughts and emotions, I can feel what is true for me, and what I really want to do, and how I, in this moment in time, can fulfil my life to the best of my ability.
‘This book is not scientific at all. It wants to be a conversation like the ones I have with my coaching clients. You won’t find any science in it. It’s not based on scientific research. It is really from my heart to yours, and I leave it up to the reader to dive into stuff and to do their own research.
‘It’s an easy book, and because I am not English or Australian by birth – English is my second language – I didn’t have the vocabulary; I didn’t have many words to choose from when I was writing. This helped me to keep it simple. In Dutch I would have sat down contemplating which word to use; shall I use this word, or that – in Dutch I could read between the lines more, or make it hard on myself by having more choice. In English, having such simple and few options, it was easy – I didn’t have that choice. This was helpful. I am interested to hear, and maybe you will take the time to give me some feedback on this, if native speakers will find this a simple book – whether it is too simple, or it is nice-simple. I don’t know. I’ve just written this. There was a point where I thought, I must conclude this. I should finish it because I keep on changing it, and it will never be finished if I don’t stop here, accept it for what it is, and maybe write another book if I feel like. I used to be a painter. When you make a painting and you keep on changing it by putting on layer after layer after layer of paint, you end up with one painting with fifty layers. Instead of doing that, you can take a new canvas, have an unfinished painting here, and another and another and another … that would give you much more to look at; much more to think about. So, I thought, let me go about his book like that, too – stop it, don’t make it perfect; it will never be perfect. I accept it as it is. I accept myself, as far as I could make this; as far as I’ve come. Then, if I feel like, I’ll take ‘another canvas’, I’ll open another Word document and start another book. I have already done so. I have three new titles. I just can’t wait to write more.
‘My business is called Fulfil Your Life [it is now Sun Coaching, MvK]. Coaches, counsellors, and psychologists will know that what people call their businesses, says a lot about themselves. We just project what we want to manifest, in a business name. To me, Fulfil Your Life showed that I wanted to fulfil my life. How was I going to do this? By following my heart, obviously. I have done so for many years. I will always do so, I can’t do otherwise. The other day, someone told me: ‘Just being in your presence, makes me want to be a better person’. That was really something for me to let sink in. And as I really felt it I thought, I have fulfilled my life. If I, by just being present, can get someone to want to make a better life and to improve themselves, I don’t have to do anything. I can just be. I am who I am, and that will have a ripple effect. I felt so grateful to have heard that, because the timing of it, for me, was perfection – one or two days before today this was said. I won’t call their name, but they are here tonight and they know. Right before today, the launch of my first book – fulfil your life, yes, I believe I have reached that point, and I feel so grateful to share that with you.
‘The reason why I started The Master’s Compass, is that at one point in time, on 22 June 2013, Julian Noel organised the event ‘Monks, Millionaires and Money’ – Julian is founder of Shine Global, and Shine wants us all to live from the heart, run our businesses from the heart, to work from the heart – to which he had invited a speaker who presented a workshop the day after, called How to Write A Book In Fourty Hours. I immediately signed up for this workshop. The next day we were sitting together with Julian and Getrude Matsche, who is the founder of How to Write A Book In Fourty Hours. Julian gave us a guided meditation. This meditation was so powerful that immediately my focus dropped from being in the mind straight into the heart, just instantly. There I understood that this was the time to make a book. That is where The Master’s Compass started. I didn’t do it in fourty hours – it took fifty-one days to make the first draft. Then I made a second draft, and a third, and this third draft is what we launch here today: The Master’s Compass.
‘Now I would like to hand over the speaker’s role to Julian Noel, who is kind enough to speak to us tonight. Thank you, Julian, for that great inspiration.’
‘What beautiful words, weren’t they, that Miriam spoke. She is certainly a great representative of her book, as she ought to be, but (looking at Miriam) you’re living it. I think that experience that you spoke about, with that person who is here today, is a very beautiful kind of acknowledgement for that. It’s true, when we really do come from ourselves, when we do connect with our essence and our deepest purpose, people get it. There are so many languages – there’s the written language, the mental language, the emotional language, and then there’s this energetic connection. We get one another. We can tell a whole person’s life in fifteen seconds. Has anyone read the book Blink? It’s about the power of connection, and giving ourselves over to this power inside us.
‘I think that that is what this book, The Master’s Compass, really is about. It’s about each of us connecting to that power beyond the mind. There is an incredible addiction to the mind, to the emotions and feelings, and to the physical sensations in the body. That stops us from doing stuff. The thing that makes me irrevocably sad, is when people sit on their own dreams – when they don’t give those dreams form. When we do give our dreams form, it opens others, it allows others to follow. We get to blaze a trail that other people can follow.
‘I really want to say how much I admire you (looking at Miriam) for writing the book. I think it comes down to four things: inspiration, connection, action, and results. It’s a really treasured thing to receive inspiration. I love the word inspiration. It means ‘filled with life’. When we breathe in, that’s inspiration. When we focus on our breath, and go into the softer qualities of the breath, you feel life. Within that filling and the acknowledgment of the filling of life, come great ideas that spring from the heart.
‘There’s a meditation technique where you follow your breath into the heart. And then you follow the breath out, to where it merges with the outer world. They say that at the end of both of those places, the mind stops, and this inner world opens. I think that that is where great inspired ideas come from. I so admire people who follow that inspiration (looking at Miriam). So, I really want to congratulate you. It’s hard fought, to start being inspired, to start a goal, follow it all the way through and then complete it. It takes immense courage and immense strength to be able to do that, especially when it’s something that comes from the depths of your own heart, because that’s the space that you want to guard, socially. We don’t really want other people to see who we really are. But when you write a book, you’re out there. To be able to do that, you must have found some strength inside yourself, that allows you to do that, especially when you write it from the tenderness of the heart. I thank you for that (looking a Miriam).’
Julian then invites the audience to have a conversation, to introduce themselves to one or two people they haven’t met before, and to share what qualities in Miriam they love, and what a book would be called that they themselves would write. People stand up and start talking with each other. After five to ten minutes Julian invites people one by one to say what they have said they love about Miriam. Many positive qualities are being named, such as positivity, tranquillity, joy, love and inspiration.
Julian hands over the speaker’s role to Rod Matthews. Unfortunately, this part of the book launch is not recorded. Rod talks about how he has read The Master’s Compass during summer holidays, laying on the beach. He tells the audience that a nice-looking woman came up to him and asked, what are you reading? Rod shares how it may feel awkward to admit that you’re reading a self-help book about how to follow your heart – how this book isn’t for everyone. The Master’s Compass is for those readers who have already done some work on personal development. Having said that, the book does engage readers who are new to this, too, because it has the fictitious story and illustrations interwoven with the self-help parts, to make it light and easy.
Rod then goes on presenting the raffle for the door-prizes. There are giveaways such as a free copy of the book, and a free coaching session with Miriam. Rod engages the whole audience and makes sure no-one leaves before the raffle is over; then he invites everyone to line up to buy a copy of the book, and to have it signed by the author.
Miriam stands up and thanks the audience for coming; especially thanks Julian and Rod. Then people are lining up, and Miriam is signing copies of her book while people are chatting and having drinks and nibbles that Berkelouw Books & Café Hornsby have provided.
The evening ends when everybody leaves. It has been a dream come true for Miriam – she takes home the remainder of the books and pictures, the flowers that her mother sent from the Netherlands, a proud husband, a new experience, and a wealth of memories.