This is a question I keep asking myself and I am very blessed to have the opportunity and support to focus on this lately. Let’s start at the beginning..
I was raised in Holland in a loving family, with 2 siblings, in a quiet village. Life was normal, with school, playing outside a lot, having regular holidays mostly by car within Europe. My interest into the big wide world was sparked by 2 exceptionally amazing trips my parents took us on, to the US and Australia, where I got to experience the vastness of the Grand Canyon, the mystique of Yellowstone and the beautiful underwater world of the Great Barrier Reef.
When I was 18 I left homebase and moved to the UK for 6 months before starting Hotelmanagement school. Whilst studying I was lucky to intern beautiful hotels in Switzerland and China and I met my husband along the way too. After we graduated we started working with an international hotel company and since then we’ve lived in the UK, UAE, Thailand and the last 4.5 years in Japan. Along the way we got married (twice - to the same man) and had children. The world is still wild and wonderful and I am fully committed to keep discovering and raising my children as global citizens.
Since the birth of our first child I have had time to focus on raising children and following various passions. I got a diploma in Photography and set up ‘ByLin Photography’ and later a certification in Plant based nutrition from eCornell. Having children has really changed my perspective of the world and the dire state it is in at the moment. As a child, I grew up with the Dutch slogan ‘a better world starts with yourself’ and we always separated our waste carefully and took our own bags to the store. This was cemented in my habits. For a long time though, I wasn’t really aware of how big the problem really was and how it was really only becoming bigger year by year. It is daunting to me that we are already experiencing horrible weather events and extremes and that this will only get worse and worse - in our lifetime still. So how will our children have a comfortable life then? I’ve always loved the world of hotels and travel, of glamour and great service, of organizing amazing events and making sure everyone has a good time. Who doesn’t? But we need to find a way to make sure this can continue well into the lives of the next generation. Recent travels have showed us the facts and even more incentives to make a change.
Through a dear friend I discovered the world of plant based food. I put it on my list of yearly goals to try a month of plant based eating and I never returned to a ‘normal’ diet after, as I was feeling so much better and lost the last bit of my extra kilos. (To be completely honest; I am still struggling to be 100% plant based all the time, but I strive to be and truly believe this is the best way to live for the human body, the environment and the animals.) From there I have been in some sort of snowball effect; learning more about plant based nutrition (by studying, reading and watching documentaries) made me realize how eating meat, fish and dairy are badly effecting the planet, and how is it actually ok to impregnate, raise and then kill animals way before the end of their normal lifespan, and how is it actually ok to just empty the ocean by dragging nets over the bottom and killing everything that lives there? And so on. Then with all the recent media attention for the plastic problem, plastic pollution and how it effects everything and everyone it came full circle to my current state of mind; we need a major shift in lifestyle and habits to be able to sustain all of us here on Planet Earth. To share my journey, I started Healthyexpatmama on Instagram. Without the intention to become one, I’ve turned in to a passionate eco-warrior and activist.
Mind you - I am not perfect of course. I am still trying to find the perfect balance between being eco and meeting the needs of my family. Bit by bit we are changing things and getting better at living with less disposables and plastics. We are reaching out of our comfort zone daily to make changes for a better future. I am often putting the needs of the Earth before the wishes of my kids - and I can only hope that they will thank me later! The worry is always on the forefront of my mind and causes me daily frustration and stress. I want to find a way to channel this energy and my knowledge into something positive that will help my community, Kyoto, Japan and the world. Hence this blog and the start of a make over and ‘melting together’ of ByLin Photography and Healthyexpatmama (which I am still figuring out so please bear with me!). Some things you will be able to see online, some will be geared towards my immediate community within Kyoto or Japan. You will see my name pop up in some other health or eco websites. I hope I can be your friendly advisor, inspirational friend, or the person who makes you slightly uncomfortable which makes you re-think your daily habits. Stay in touch through this website, my instagram accounts or LINE. Together we can make waves and secure a joyful future for our children.