This was a year of research and recovering. After graduating last year, everything had to stop for a while. The Master’s in fine art is like being shot out of a cannon. I began learning Dutch. I had left NYC with a gold-standard resume for working with senior executives in finance, after 10 years with UBS & Morgan Stanley. I researched the job market here in all sectors and looked for administrative roles like I held in NYC, but got nowhere, especially not with beginner Dutch, my middle age, and a high-level university humanities degree instead of secretarial school. So over the summer I concluded that there was no falling back on office work after all, it seems I have to commit to this change of life I engineered again and again, despite financial risk and fear of it totally impoverishing me into old age. It never stops being completely daunting.
Since the late summer I have been exploring some new installations outdoors with wood, metal and yarn, and drawing more now that the weather has turned wintery. I began to research artist grants here. I’m also starting a side business as a communications coach for non-native English-speaking media professionals, called “Beyond English” (http://www.beyondenglish.nl), after working with one client at Utrecht University all this autumn, which I really enjoyed. Sometimes I sell home-made (organic, gluten-free) foods made from what I can harvest from my small garden.
I somehow turned 50 this year, and celebrated by traveling back to the US. I was able to visit my Pennsylvania and NY friends and family and also enjoy an advanced Qi Gong (ancient Chinese health practice) retreat in upstate New York with my community. I miss the Shambhala buddhist and qi gong community in North America a lot; though there are long-established branches in Europe as well, there isn’t a diverse and supportive community in my little city, just a small group that is challenged to grow. It has been a contrast that I didn’t realise would be so stark, or have such a strong impact on me. Nonetheless – nice as it was to visit past places, I was glad to return to the Netherlands. I’m very lucky to live in such a place, where the overall society seems orders of magnitude better at taking care of its fellow beings. It’s been two years and a few months since landing here; 5 years since New York was “home”. The thing I mainly miss is the amazing, diverse landscapes of North America and seeing friends and family. Sometimes it feels disorienting to live in such a small country that nonetheless projects itself as large, with a lot of self-importance. You can cross it in 3 hours.
In the new year I plan to do more writing in addition to developing visual/environmental work, and creating more stability for all of that. I hope to hear from you if we haven’t been in touch for a while, And if you are coming to northern Europe, stop by for a visit!
Liefs, en warme groeten van Nederland,
- Art: www.susantylerjenkins.com
- Instagram: sujenlake
- Biz: www.beyondenglish.nl
- Send me a postcard: Kanaalweg 89, 3533HG Utrecht | Netherlands