In the section ‘the OpenUp of ..’ someone openly tells us about his or her life. Topics such as meaning, awareness, doubts and insights will be discussed. We ask how psychology plays a role in their day-to-day lives. In this episode, we’ve asked Mira ten Velden, Human Resource Director at LUMICKS.
Mira, how are you doing?
‘I’m very well thank you. I feel like I’m in a good place right now. Last May I started working at LUMICKS, and I’m finally getting the feeling I’m up to speed, and able to find my own way.
“I didn’t take time to pause for a moment, until life was paused for me.”
My current job feels like a gift. Before I started, I unfortunately was forced to stop working due to breast cancer. Although it was a challenging time it turned out as a very special period for me. Even though the situation wasn’t enjoyable, I have experienced it as a very beautiful time. An eye-opener you could call it. I am the kind of person that is always on the run. I always push through, with lots of enthusiasm. I never took time to take a step back, until I literally had no other choice. Looking back on these times, I’m very thankful for the time that it gave me. Time to see friends and family, time for reflection and creativity, time to really think.
It gave me time to reconsider my position at Shell, which was my employer at that time. I never really had the time to do so. It was a period in which I was able to develop myself in multiple aspects. I, for example, have discovered a strong fascination for plant based food. It is amazing what you can make from just plants, it was like a completely new world opened up to me. And besides, it doesn’t only impact your own health, but also positively affects the environment and animals.
After my recovery I decided I was going to leave Shell after I finished my final project and start a new chapter. I played with the thought to do more with food and health and to change to a different direction or another work sector. I wanted to take the time to figure some things out, until LUMICKS contacted me by accident. Although it was ‘way too early’ we got along and I fell in love with the company, their work ethic and the role in which I would operate. So, indeed, I am very happy to have landed here!”
A new job also comes with new challenges, how do you deal with those?
“Of course I am ‘young’ in my role, but my experience does help me. Even though the environment is new, I have enough knowledge and experience by now to understand the main points, so I always find my way. Partly due to my open personality I learn new things every day. I thrive in chaos and exploring the red threads gives me energy.
The only thing that makes me feel stressed is when I have too many new things on my mind. If it’s new I don’t know how much time and effort it will take to complete them which causes the stressed feeling. But since I am aware of this phenomena I always talk about this immediately. I am very open, and that helps for sure. Whenever I have figured out how to handle the new things, things always find their way again.
My new job gives me a lot of energy without making me tired afterwards. The start at LUMICKS was also the start of a 4 day, instead of 5 day, working week. I wanted to keep a part of my freedom to discover more about plant based foods. However, I quickly realized that I wanted to use my whole workweek and so I changed back to a 5 day workweek. I found it interesting to discover that this change brought me more rest and focus. Whenever it feels right, I will change back to my initial 4 day working week.
How do you maintain a good balance in your life?
“I am luckily able to switch easily between being ‘on’ and ‘off’. I enjoy an extended social life and I really enjoy having dinner with friends. Those moments I am not thinking at all about work. I love cooking and like to invite people over for dinner.
“In the cold sea you become one with nature and the elements, it is a very special feeling!”
I also enjoy going outside, taking a walk, going cycling, or swimming. My husband and I often ‘roam’ around the city without a clear goal or direction. We will see where we end up and if necessary we take a scooter or tram to get home. Swimming in the sea is amazing too! My friends and I have gotten a swimming app-group and we regularly go for a swim. The feeling that you are one with nature and the elements gives me a very special feeling! This is one of the coolest things this year brought, going into the cold sea and taking a bike ride back through the dunes, it is incredible. You are completely ‘back to basic’ and you can’t focus on anything else except for ‘being there’.
This also reminds me of the book ‘The power of Now by Eckhart Tolle’, with which I crossed paths again. It is such a beautiful book and it really opened my eyes again. The only thing I have is the ‘now’. How do I feel right now? How do my feet feel on the ground, how does the wind feel in my face? It is all there is, very simple.”
What is your experience with talking to a psychologist?
“During my recovery I participated in a rehabilitation process, which helped me a lot. Without a doubt, I can say it was an intense period. Recovering from a heavy disease was not the only thing that kept me busy, I was thinking about changing my career and my son went into puberty… it was a hectic period. During the rehabilitation process I especially benefited from the ergotherapy, in which you learn to rebuild your energy after chemotherapy. Aslo, I talked to a psychologist, which I found really helpfull as well.
“I have gotten less strict for myself, it doesn’t have to be perfect and I don’t have to do it all by myself either.”
I liked it that much that I followed a coaching trajectory after, something that gave me a lot of insights. Apparently, I was telling my psychologist all these things that I ‘had to’ do. Now, I am more conscious: do I have to do it, or do I want to do it? I have gotten less strict for myself, it doesn’t have to be perfect and I don’t have to do it all by myself either. The garden, for example, I leave it to my son, as a side job, and he rocks it!”
What is the best advice you have gotten?
“That is something my dad told me: don’t be afraid of the unknown, embrace the insecurities and your changes and face the challenge. And mainly: enjoy it, given the fears and difficulties. With positivity and enthusiasm.
“I have always been positive during the process and that inspires.”
Due to my positivity I get introduced a lot to people who are treated for cancer, I like to be there for others in that way. Of course, I’ve been lucky that my story has a good ending but I can tell you that I’ve been positive during the whole process and that’s what inspired people. For me positivity isn’t an achievement, it’s just my natural way of doing things. I’m conscious of the benefits that this personal factors brings along.
LUMICKS and OpenUp work together for a better mental health.