Tag Archives: lifestyle

How do you start your day?

How you start your day determines how you end your day.

A typical start of the day for many people in the modern digital age is stumbling out of bed, grabbing the i-Phone to check for important emails with the news channels blaring negativity in the background.

Are you in control of your own agenda?

It means external forces are setting the agenda. You are not in control. Your thoughts and emotions are running the rollercoaster of stressful thoughts and fears. Without a set anchor point or agenda for the day you will be bouncing around like a cork in the ocean.

Pebbles

Learning from the monastic traditions

The monastic traditions were very much aware of the inner demons and had set rituals for the day. In the Benedectine Order, the monastery rule dating back to about 500 AD, prayer, service, study, and physical labor were all essential parts of spiritual growth.

The monk Benedict was convinced that God had given Man the freedom of choice with the heart a constant battleground of choosing between good and evil.  To avoid the temptation of evil the monks committed themselves to four hours of prayer, four hours of studying scripture, and manual labor. In the Order there are fixed times for rising in the morning, prayer, study, work,  break times, and recuperation.

Such a disciplined life made the monasteries the research laboratories and centers of learning for hundreds of years. We know from modern neurological research that such structures teach the brain from falling into procrastination and the pitfalls of dark thought. It in the quiet moments that we have the “aha” inspirations.

Determining your own agenda

What is your first thought of the day? Are you being overwhelmed by all the negativity and external conditions caused by the pandemic? Be aware that no matter how bad your personal situation might be, there are always at least three things a day you can be grateful for. There will always be persons better off and worse off than you are. Meditate and concentrate on inhaling and exhaling. By focusing on your breathing you are bringing yourself back to the present moment. What are you feeling? Anger, sadness or fear? Accept that feeling. It is the way it is. Once you have accepted how you feel you can start emotionally shifting to another emotional level: Joy, abundance, confidence, courage, and trust.

We live in a world of polarity. The forces of yin and yang are in constant flux with the universal force moving in a cycle comparable to the seasonal changes. There is a time for expansion and growth and there is a time for withdrawal and recuperation. COVID-19 is teaching mankind to take a pause. It is a time of introspection and realignment, comparable to the “winter of the soul”.

It is a good time to realign your own personal agenda, starting by creating a structure for your day. It will make a huge difference on your stress-coping strategy during this time of crisis.

Reino Gevers – Author. Mentor. Speaker

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Be kind to yourself

A key measurement of your stress-coping strategy or resilience level during times of crisis is how kind you are to yourself. It is an ancient wisdom that is often confused with narcissism and vanity.

In our performance-driven society success is mostly defined in material terms. Those personalities held up as high-flying examples in the yellow press are often deeply-flawed and unhappy characters.

Are you living your own life or the life of another?

Yet so many people consume every snippet of information from other people’s lives, forgetting to live their own life.

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Being kind to yourself is accepting yourself with all your negative and positive traits. Much of the high expectations you put onto yourself in “wanting to be perfect” stems from a childhood where parents with overly high expectations gave love in return for “good behavior”.

If you have the feeling that “nobody loves me” then start loving yourself.  A healing mantra could be: “I love and accept myself the way I am.” Whisper or say it aloud to yourself whenever you have self-doubts and feelings of recrimination toward yourself.

The high-achieving perfectionist waiting for a reward

Among the various types of “burnout” personalities is the high-achieving perfectionist. There is an almost obsessive drive to achieve a goal. But when that goal is achieved there is a general feeling of emptiness. It is never enough and the subconscious wish for the “reward” never comes. It can eventually lead to complete mental and physical exhaustion.

A simple exercise to boost your self-worth

One of the simplest exercises in being kind to yourself is the gratitude ritual. It is the first thing you can do after getting up in the morning: Find just three things that you can be grateful for from the events of the past 24 hours.

This immediately leads to an emotional shift. There will always be humans in your vicinity who will be better off and worse off than you. It is just a fact of life.

The difference between self-love and narcissism

But what is the difference between self-love, kindness, and compassion towards yourself and narcissism?  Narcissists primarily revolve around their own needs and have an inflated sense of their own importance. They are in constant need of attention and validation from the world around them but often themselves completely lack compassion. Social media has unfortunately provided a perfect platform for this type of personality disorder.

Joy and grief are part of the human condition

The resilient personality is well aware that joy and grief, abundance, and loss are part of the human conditions that can and should both be lived.  From this grows authenticity, compassion, and love.

The saying “Love they neighbor as yourself”, first found in the Old Testament of the Bible, and amplified by Jesus in the New Testament defines God as love. But the precondition to doing good unto others is the kindness and acceptance of self. Without self-reflection comes projection and condition. It is also an acceptance that you are part of a bigger whole and that kindness to self is transmuted into kindness for others and mindfulness toward all living beings.

Reino Gevers – Author. Mentor. Speaker

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Dealing with fear and anger

The only certainty in life is that change is a constant

– Heraclitus-

Anger is a close ally of fear. With many countries going into their second month of Covid-19 lockdown the strain is beginning to show with spontaneous angry protests in several bigger cities over the weekend.

We are currently experiencing a defining moment in history.  Our world will never be the same again.  During the first stage of a tumultuous change, there is often resistance and denial. Then comes fear. Terrible decisions are made when we are in a hurry and under stress. The reason is simple:

When you are in a state of fear and stress the body is flooded with stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. Blood vessels contract, your heartbeat starts racing, the body is in fear and flight mode. The fear reaction in the brain’s amygdala is triggered even before you have time to process and think rationally.

Solutions are found with a relaxed mind

The prefrontal cortex of the brain has no time to process what is happening. In a relaxation mode, the prefrontal cortex can, however, perform its executive function in differentiating between conflicting thoughts and determining future consequences of current activities on a rational level. Solutions are found in an aligned and relaxed mode.

There are wonderful and simple methods of how you can lower your blood pressure and go back into a relaxed state of mind:

  • Emotional shifting is becoming aware of the emotion you are currently feeling. Is it fear, anger, grief, sadness? Define the emotion! Yes, I am afraid and anxious! Then find an image in your mind that can act as an antidote to that fear: A funny video, love for a person close to you, gratitude for all that is good in your life, a wonderful experience that you had recently.
  • When you are under duress it immediately shows in shortness of breath. Place your hands on your lower belly. At the count of one, you inhale, and at the count of one you exhale, feeling that exhaling feeling all the way down into your lower belly. Keep going at least until the count of 21.
  • Some countries are relaxing some of the restrictions, allowing people to go on walks. Take the opportunity and go for a walk in nature. Find a spot where you can tune your senses to a natural sound like the song of a bird or can hear the rustling of leaves in a tree.

How you start your day will determine your day. If you’ve had a bad night with monkeys dancing in your head, you can start with the emotional shift exercise, followed by the meditation. You can also practice a personal mantra. One of my favorites is:

Everything is Grace. Faith over Fear

Prayer is a powerful method of going beyond the self and finding solace, especially if you pray for others who are in a much worse position.

This time is a time that can be compared to winter. It is also a winter of the soul, a time of introspection where minds can go into silence.  The time of hibernation is lying low until the turbulence has passed and remain in trust. This too shall pass in a rebirth that is spring.
Reino Gevers – Author, Mentor, and Consultant

https://www.reinogevers.com

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You are not alone

No Man is an Island’

No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;

– John Donne – 

We realize when alone that we are not an island. During these times of crisis separation has become the watchword. It mirrors how far we have become separated in the relationship with ourselves and the natural world around us.

The writings of German philosopher Martin Buber seem particularly poignant. His most famous book “Ich und Du”, published in 1923,  roughly translates to “I and Though” with its central tenet that human life finds its purpose and meaning in relationships.

The separation from the ‘I’

Nature does not take revenge. If we go to war with nature there is merely cause and effect.  Perceiving the world, the earth, or the universe as being separate or external from the “I” is a belief-centered delusion.

Relationship is connection to Soul

Buber argues that ultimately relationship is about our connectedness to the inner soul spirit, God, or the Universe.  Ancient man and the hunter and gatherer societies are still very much aware of the connectedness of the inner spirit with the natural world.

Becoming with the Though

In the relationship with the “Though” there is a “becoming” into the wholeness of purpose and BEING. The essence of life, according to Buber, is found in the relationship with the other. With the emphasis of our culture from the “restrictions and obligations” of community” to the self-fulfillment of “individual freedom” we have fallen from one extreme to the other.

Pseudo-community or meaning is sought by the individual in pseudo-religion and the tribe affiliation to party political institutions. How else can we explain the blind following of the professional populist deceivers and the false prophets of our age?

Anybody who has gone through a divorce will know of the trauma left between two people who once loved each other. In the beginning, there is unconditional love. We see in the other, the Though, a merger or completion. Ideally, the partners support and empower each other in spiritual growth. But we often seek in the other that which has not been healed within. Disappointment is inevitable when the emotional shadows get triggered. The breakdown comes creeping slowly, respect gets lost when we see the other grappling with similar emotional issues. Communication is reduced to the mundane.

The soul journey is exploring the “Though” within. In the Gospel of St. Thomas, discovered at Nag Hammadi in Egypt in 1945, Jesus is quoted as saying:

“See the kingdom in the sky, then the birds of the sky will precede you. If they say to you. ‘It is in the sea,’ then the fish will precede you. Rather, the kingdom is inside of you, and it is outside of you. When you come to know yourselves, then you will become known, and you will realize that it is you who are the sons of the living father.” (Saying 3, p. 654.9-21).
Reino Gevers – Author, Mentor, and Consultant

https://www.reinogevers.com

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A changed world after lockdown

We are in the fifth week of our lockdown in Spain which has some of the most stringent Coronavirus rules in place. I was stopped a few days ago by police near my home who told me in no uncertain terms that taking doggy for a walk was not allowed if I had a garden where the dog could go outside.

Moving about is embedded in our genes

When this is over I will appreciate all the more my long walks in nature in the nearby Tramuntana mountains of Majorca. I have become more aware that moving about freely and traveling to faraway places has become very much part of our modern lifestyle. It will take a while to fully comprehend how farreaching an effect this is having on what we have perceived as fundamental freedoms. Our movements are likely to remain restricted for some time to come. What this means for the travel industry is anyone’s guess.

The urge to be on the move and discovering new places is embedded in our genes. Our ancestors moved from the trees to walk on the ground to seek new feeding grounds. For thousands of years, humans were nomads moving from place to place. As recently as 500 years ago there were still hunters and gatherers in many parts of Europe, Africa, and the Americas.

Finding authenticity on the journey

Jewish mysticist teachers made a point of sending their students on a journey to broaden their mental and spiritual horizons. It was also a way of teaching the scholar not to become too dependent on the Master and to find their own inner authenticity. Experiential spirituality in the mystic tradition is something awaiting discovery from within and cannot be imposed externally by rules of belief.

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Hiking trail, Majorca

The apprenticeship training of carpenters in Germany has for centuries followed the same tradition. After learning the basic tools of the craft from an experienced “Meister”, the apprentice goes on a “Wanderschaft” or hike to distant places to both finetune his skills and character.

Finding the empty space 

Every pilgrim who has gone on a pilgrimage on the Camino in Spain knows all about the “zoning out” into that empty space that comes when walking alone in nature for several weeks.  Experiential spirituality is a deep personal connection with the divine. Spirituality is all about following and remaining true to your divine purpose. Limitations to “Be-coming” are all too often set by the parameters of doctrine, parental expectations and the constant drum-beat of digital distractions.

When our senses are attuned to nature we find alignment with the universe. There is a close feeling of connectivity to the whole in the seemingly chaotic.

It is all the more reason to look forward again to my next annual pilgrimage. It might not take place at all this year on the Camino because we don’t know if all the restrictions will be lifted by summer. Meanwhile, it will have to be short hikes closer to home.

Reino Gevers – Author, Mentor, and Consultant

https://www.reinogevers.com

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Fear and the coronavirus

The coronavirus panic buttons are omnipresent. The fighting over toilet rolls in empty supermarkets to the social ostracising of anyone looking Chinese is telling us something about the fragile state of human society.

Where conspiracy theorists and professional deceivers on social media dominate the narrative fear takes hold.  Fear triggers stress hormones that switch off rational thought, putting the body into fight or flight mode.

Fear and panic stir the darkest sides of human nature with an “everyone for himself” attitude, nationalism, xenophobia and a fallback to the perilous age of pre-Enlightenment.

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Mass panic takes on its own dynamics and its anyone’s guess how long the economic fallout will be in the next few months: Complete breakdown of the cruise ship industry, and factories closing because of supply chain interruptions?

We know from neurological research that when the mind is under stress or in high emotional turmoil that cognitive and level-headed thought is impossible. You will not perceive or hear the voice of reason if you are in panic mode.

Let’s stick with the facts that come directly from the experts quoted by traditional media: The coronavirus is influenza.  If we take normal precautions the likelihood of becoming infected is relatively small and of dying from it even smaller. The victims so far have been predominantly among the elderly with a weak immune system.  With most people, it is a mild infection.

By early March the global death toll from the virus was just over 3,000 with most of them coming from China.  Both China and Italy have a large elderly population.

Humanity is faced by far greater threats than the coronavirus. Climate change has already claimed hundreds of thousands of lives and livelihoods as a result of flooding, heatwaves and freak storms.  One person dies every 40 seconds from suicide. It is the second leading cause of death in the age group of 15-29-year-olds globally.  And lets just look at the death toll of the normal annual flu: At least 12,000 people have died from influenza between Oct. 1, 2019 through Feb. 1, 2020, and the number of deaths may be as high as 30,000 – just in the United States.

We are all going to die at some point. But in a world of spiritual disconnect, the fear of death is profound. Death is not something we like to talk about. We have banished the experience of it to old age homes and hospices.

Fear of death evaporates with spiritual practice. It comes from the realization that the body is merely a vehicle to higher soul elevation that moves into a different dimension when the sojourn on this earth has come to an end.  Within a different state of consciousness, the mind quietens amid the din of confusion and panic sirens.

Reino Gevers – Author, Mentor, and Consultant

https://www.reinogevers.com

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Is religious being spiritual?

What is religious and what is spiritual?  At its best religion is a ritualized expression of the spiritual. At its worst, it becomes an instrument of dehumanization and control.

While religion focuses on who you are supposed to be by abiding by certain rules of conduct and practice, spirituality is all about becoming who you really are with all your unique, individual, God-given potentials and abilities.

spirituality

Religion is a doctrine that tells you what to believe, what group you need to belong to and what rules you have to follow. Spirituality is experienced from within. You believe because you have felt and experienced. You do the “right thing” because you just know what is good and what is bad for the Greater Whole.

Most of the many fellow pilgrims I have spoken to on my walks on the Spanish Camino would describe themselves as spiritual seekers rather than followers of a certain religious doctrine.

In becoming mindful and watchful for the subtle messages of the universe transmitted in dreams, images, and symbols, life takes on an entirely different meaning. Put in a different way: God speaks to us in many different ways.

We are on the brink of another raised level of human consciousness which is non-divisive, universalist, tolerant, self-reflective and compassionate.

At the same time, elementary and revolutionary changes are always confronted with a backlash from those defending the old order.

In recent years we have seen a frightening rise of movements seeking to divide and separate with fear-instilling messages, propounded by dangerous narcissistic and ego-driven leaders.

It is the natural pendulum of the yin and the yang. Energy is wasted in the hysteria over the actions coming from the shadow.

In going with the higher frequency of the raised consciousness, the danger is that we react with the same patterns as our adversaries. We also become hateful, ranting and vengeful.

Yet when seen according to the law of opposites that is the foundation of life, a different perspective can be taken. Identity is defined in terms of the opposite and it is often when confronted with the extreme opposite that we are galvanized into action.

(This is an extract from “Deep Walking for Body, Mind and Soul”)
Reino Gevers – Author, Mentor, and Consultant

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Walking your walk

Faith in the biblical sense can truly move mountains. Theresa decides to walk the Camino in an act of defiance after her doctor tells her that the cancer in her body will reduce her lifespan to six months at the most and that she should settle her affairs.

She walks the Camino with soft feet, sending her backpack ahead to the next town with a taxi. She completes her walk and returns home a different woman.

“That was five years ago,” she tells me as we drink our café con leche in one of the many bars dotting the Camino. This time she is walking the Camino the second time.

We are only in the infancy of discovering the true connection between body and mind. So many fellow pilgrims I’ve met on the Camino were told by family, friends, and associates that they would never be able to walk almost 800 kilometers over five weeks. We are capable of so much more than we think possible.

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The Austrian-born Jewish psychiatrist Victor Frankl (1905-1997) is renowned for his breakthrough research on the power of meaning. In his book Nevertheless, Say “Yes” to Life: A Psychologist Experiences the Concentration Camp, also known under the bestselling title Man’s Search for Meaning, he narrates several observations in the Nazi death camps.

While incarcerated in Auschwitz, Frankl counseled fellow prisoners with his philosophy that a striving for meaning, even in the most harrowing of circumstances, is what keeps us alive.

Inmates who gave themselves up became suicidal and died, while those who saw some meaning, like telling the world about the Holocaust after liberation, survived.

It was the “will to meaning” that looked to the future, and not to the traumatic events of the past, that sustained people.

Despite losing his wife and nearly all his family in the holocaust, Frankl refused to dwell on the past.

Even in the worst possible situation, man still has freedom of choice and the ability to seek meaning in whatever situation he finds himself in, he argued.

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way,” he wrote.

It’s a simple but profound truth. It all begins in the mind.

It is why a cancer patient will very often give up when told of the diagnosis. The word itself is so loaded with fear and mortality that the patient sees no hope. The shocked reaction of family and friends is often not conducive to the healing process either when the patient is asked on a daily basis how “the cancer treatment is going.”

We also know from research that patients who overload their friends and family on a daily basis with all the details of their illness do much worse than those who refuse to mention by name the illness, merely telling everyone that they are in a healing process.

Most fitness and weight-loss programs fail because of a negative mindset.

After an initial loss of weight or a couple of exercise sessions, most people give up and return to old habits because they haven’t found the real reason in their mind why they want to reduce weight or get fit. Some people even end up being more obese because they have subconsciously tricked their mind into putting on more weight. “I don’t want to be fat. I don’t want to be in debt,” are a double-negative with opposite the intended effect.

Reformulating that wish into a realistic feeling that is actually felt as emotion and pictured as an ideal outcome really works.

Reino Gevers – Author, Mentor, and Consultant

https://www.reinogevers.com

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A clue to happiness: How are you talking to yourself?

Humans are hard-wired to live in the past or in the future because planning and learning from the past has been crucial to the survival of our species.

Real joy comes from those magical moments of being absolutely present and experiencing spirituality, love and peace of mind.

Researchers have found that distraction, one of the major scourges of our time, is also a major cause of unhappiness.

Psychologists at Harvard University conducted a study with 2,250 volunteers, monitoring their thoughts and feelings, to find out how often they were focused on what they were doing, and what made them most happy.

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More than half the time people’s minds were wandering to other things. The researchers concluded that reminiscing, thinking ahead or daydreaming tends to make people more miserable, even when they are thinking about something pleasant.

Matthew Killingsworth, a doctoral student in psychology and lead author of the study, wrote in the journal Science:

“A human mind is a wandering mind and a wandering mind is an unhappy mind. The ability to think about what is not happening is a cognitive achievement that comes at an emotional cost.”

The human mind has between 60,000 – 70,000 different thought monkeys dancing through the head on one day. Becoming aware of these thoughts is the first step toward focusing on the moment.

It is an empowering thought to realize that you are in control of your thoughts and that with a little training you can regain control of these monkeys.

Thoughts are energy waves and they create reality. Where energy flows, the energy goes. The first step is to become aware of your current feeling. Is it predominantly, sad, angry, resentful, happy, or joyful? Negative emotions can sometimes be triggered by banal events, like a driver blowing his horn at you in a traffic situation. This then suddenly triggers an anger explosion that is completely out of proportion to the event. It would be one example of anger that has its roots elsewhere but hasn’t been transmuted.

Out of control emotions have a close connection to scattered thoughts and an uncentered state of mind. For me, deep walking retreats on the Camino in Spain have been a real eye-opener. While walking alone I was inevitably confronted by countless thoughts, especially during the first few days. It is part of the process of dumping old emotional garbage – some of which lie buried in the subconscious mind for years, sometimes to early childhood.

You will have made progress when you find your senses tuning in to the surroundings and becoming aware of the sights, sounds and smells around you.

What thoughts you have immediately after getting up in the morning have a major impact on your day. A dream could have stirred a negative emotion. But you are in control. You can reset your mind. You can set a positive anchor for the day with a meditation, a gratitude ritual, an exercise routine, a mantra, or a prayer.

Every time you catch yourself with a negative thought, you can train the mind to concentrate on breathing. Consciously counting the inhaling and exhaling sequence of breathing will immediately transmute that thought. If you click on my Podcast link below you will find a powerful meditation from ancient Qi Gong practice which I find enormously powerful and the effects of which can last for hours.

Reino Gevers – Author, Mentor, and Consultant

https://www.reinogevers.com

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The power of choice

As a young newspaper reporter in South Africa in the early 1980s, I once covered a trial of a man accused of brutally raping and murdering a young girl.  Once during the trial, our eyes met and a cold shiver ran down my spine. I had the feeling that I was looking into a dark cold abyss. The man was eventually found guilty and sentenced to death.

Eyes reveal your true nature 

Eyes are a window to the soul and we intuitively feel whether they are kind, compassionate and loving or the direct opposite. We live in a world of polarities. There is good and there is evil.  The pull between the tides, night and day, summer and winter, expansion and withdrawal is part of the yin and yang that make up our world.

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The story of Good and Evil is deeply embedded in our subconsciousness from the first story in the Bible. The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was planted by God with the commandment to Adam and Eve not to eat from it. Pain and evil started in the world when Adam and Eve broke the commandment and ate from the tree. The question often asked is: “Why did God plant the tree in the first place?”

Co-creating with the power of choice 

One of the answers: By giving man the freedom of choice, God separated him from other beings, giving him the power of being a co-creator.  Choice separates us from other beings who do exactly what they have been designed for.  Choice separates us from being mindless zombies to being human with all our doubts, our pains, and emotions. By experiencing the dark night of the soul we appreciate all the more rejuvenation and happiness. It is in the dark night that we often gain the greatest spiritual insight and wisdom.

The lines between good and evil are getting blurred

By seeing and confronting evil we know what needs to be done. But in today’s world of information overload, professional deceivers have been given a massive platform for mind control.  The lines between good and evil get blurred when a lie becomes a truth through repetition in the echo chambers of social media.

Where there is spiritual disconnect, the loss of alignment between the above and the below, lack of purpose, and emotional turmoil the power of evil will manifest itself. Put in another way:  There is evil where there is a complete absence of God. It is that power that destroys the air we breathe, the waters we drink and the earth from which we are nurtured. As within so without.

In the past religion taught us that doing good was by following commandments, certain rituals, and a certain belief system.  It excluded all others who did not follow this belief system.  The preachers, themselves very often fallible human beings, were those who defined right and wrong.

The spirituality of the New Earth is internal rather than external. It is alignment with true self and soul purpose. From that grows the intuitive wisdom and power of discernment. We do the right thing and make the right choices from the base of mindful inner awareness that comes with continuous spiritual practice.

Reino Gevers – Author, Mentor, and Consultant

https://www.reinogevers.com

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