Bringing you a personal story this time, I want to take you through some fond moments I have in my memory.

2020 is the year in which many of my multi-year ‘projects’ come to a close. Some of them are happy projects, some are harder ones . One of these projects was to say goodbye to my family home, the place I hold dear and where I have made so many lovely memories.

Modeling career

In 1998 I was 17 years old and my family and I had lived for years in an urban neighborhood close to my elementary school. Since a few years I had started modeling and my career took off. At my young age, I had become the breadwinner of the household. My father became my manager and started to travel with me. Modeling went so well that we could look for a farm house so my dream of having our horses stabled at home could become a reality. On the front page of the local real estate paper my sister saw a picture of a cute white farmhouse in a little village I had never heard of before: ‘Soerendonk’. We went there for a showing, and on the spot we all decided to buy this farmhouse with the money I had earned from my contracts with Guess, Covergirl and Ralph Lauren. The little village of Soerendonk became our new home.

Over the years I did a few photoshoots there, like this one for Dutch Marie Claire by Roger Neve, and once Reinout Oerlemans visited me for his TV show Heart Break Hotel. The pictures you see in this article are from the shoot with Roger.

 

in front of our house on the street overlooking the meadows. With our neighbor’s baby piglet

My horses at home

Eventually our horses Key West and  my sister’s pony Jitmar moved in the little stables in the back. We had chicken, an aggressive rooster who would literally pick on me once a while, and we even had 2 goats. My father built in a swimming pool, and added a little wooden house and a blue worker’s shack on our land ( I don’t know why, because we really did not need more space). And we had an apple orchard. We had some other ponies live there as well over the years. We leased land next door to make a dressage ring and have a few acres of meadow for the horses. I had a bedroom to the front of the house next to the street. Every day our cats – which we adopted from a local farmer – would climb onto the roof and even get into my bedroom and sleep with me on the bed. When we would arrive home from grocery shopping, it was such a cute sight all those cats on the roof welcoming us home. And when I would call “poes poes poes!” They would run towards me from all over the place, hoping it was time for dinner. At night all cats, chicken and horses would all go to the barn to sleep and I would tell them good night each day.

 

on the land we leased from our neighbor. You can see the dressage ring in the back.

 

Every early morning the Sun would shine into my bedroom, and the farmers would wake me up by driving their tractors so close to my bedroom. I would open a side window and check on the horses, they would whinny and I would go open their stable doors, and give them their breakfast. Afterwards I would have breakfast, bring the horses to the field, clean the stables, do homework and in afternoon ride my horse Key West either in the dressage ring or outdoors in the nearby forest or through the village. This daily rhythm made me perfectly content and happy. And many days I would take my horse Key West, walk him onto our trailer by myself, and the 2 of us would go to a dressage lesson or local competition.

Our house looked out onto a meadow of our neighbors, and the house therefore truly had the most beautiful Sunset every day. To me this place was Heaven on Earth. Whenever I traveled far away, it was always nice to come back home.

 

In the living room of our home in Soerendonk

 

In the hallway to the front door in our home.

 

In the hammock in our garden, and in the blue worker’s shack on our property.

Good memories

So many specific memories I have from this place. I remember especially the 3 boys living next door peeking over the fence when we moved in. They turned out to be always friendly and helpful, especially when there was danger they would help out or check on our house. Like that one time my horses Key West and Jitmar escaped and ran through the village towards the highway. My neighbors jumped in a car and chased after them with me, catching them just in time. The Weekend after I won 1st price at a dressage competition. My dressage teacher joked that “I should let them escape more often”. (No thank you!) That’s what is so nice about living in a small community: everybody helps each other. So this city girl became part of the local activities, joined the carnaval club “De Herrieschoppers” and really morphed into the country girl lifestyle. I made friends, many of which I am still in contact with to this day.

My sister’s pony Jitmar  (RIP) and I for dutch Marie Claire by Roger Neve in the apple orchard at home.

 

Looking happy up to my father on the balcony after Key West (RIP) and I won a competition. in background you see our chicken run.

Losing it all

My dad and I during a job for Covergirl in NYC in the 90s.

 

Many years I lived there with no worries, until 2001 came along. Not only did we lose the famous Twin Towers on 9/11, I also lost my father Rob on 10/18 after 6 months of battling cancer. His last days he truly enjoyed the Sunset every night from the living room. After he passed away, my life changed, for the worse. I can tell you so much about it, but in short I was forced to say goodbye to that lovely life I had right there, lost everything in my life except my horse Key West. I took him with me to another stable. We had to move on, and I moved to NYC, away from it all.

 

With our dog Winka (RIP) and our dog Kenya (RIP) in our garden in Soerendonk.

I want to honor the lovely animals I have spent time with there, including our dogs Kenya & Winka, cats Alaïa, Dani, Moya, Baer, Sushi, Pepsi, Eddy & Henkie, My horse Key West, my sister’s pony Jitmar, our fearless rooster and chicken, goats and more animals who lived there at one moment in time, some of who I wasn’t able to say goodbye to, for one reason or another.

My horse Key West died suddenly in 2016 at the age of 24. I was devastated as I loved him so much, he was with me 18 years of my life. I felt he was the last link I had to my dad and previous life.

They will all be in my heart forever.

Live consciously

In the end, the message I want to share with you is that you really need to live in the moment and consciously enjoy the good times, because you never know when it might end. It may end when you least expect it. Enjoy it while you can! I did not think it would be over so fast for me. Memories are all that you take with you in the afterlife. Make sure you make some good ones that you can cherish forever.

READ MORE: The art of letting go

This month, it was an end of an era, finally I can close a chapter. My family house has been sold to another family, and I hope the new owners will make beautiful memories there. This property in Soerendonk has given me much happiness in the years I lived there when my father Rob was still alive. Unfortunately I don’t have that many private pictures of this time, my father, my animals, but these pictures by Roger Neve as well as the memories no one can take from me. They are always in my heart.

I have made it my mission in life to make more of these wonderful memories, but now with my husband Dirk and my dog Bane.

Don’t cry because it is over, smile because it happened – dr. Seuss

In My Memory by Tiesto

Lastly, I want to share this music with you called “In my memory” by Tiësto released in the year 2001, the year my father passed. Not only because of that fact, and that I talk about something that is in my memory, but also because after my father had passed I became friends with (the team behind) Tiësto and even appeared in his video for Love Comes Again. This music helped me through a tough time in my life. It is still one of my favorite pieces of music.

Love, Lonneke

pictures by Roger Neve for Marie Claire, and Rob Engel.

also Thanks to Sanja and her wonderful website dedicated to my modeling work where I found these pictures. You can find more pictures of this photoshoot and other work here.