When our coaching project started to evolve, we were aiming for a fitting name. As we are are life coaches, we wanted it to express the life force that we all have inside of us. It should express as well the power of nature and the pure and honest qualities of the horse. We live and work in Belgium, so we are part of a multilingual society. Our name had to be easy pronounceable and understood in most European languages. So when we came across the expression "pura vida", we did not have to think twice. It is fitting all our criteria. Let us tell you more about why it all fell into place. In Spanish "pura vida" literally means "pure life". According to Wikipedia over time it became a characteristic Costa Rican phrase with an undertone that can be translated as "full of life", "real living" or "going great". The phrase can be used both as a greeting or a farewell, as an answer expressing that things are going well, as a way of giving thanks, or showing appreciation. We are thankful to be able to help people progress by the assistance of one of the most beautiful and gracious animals on planet earth. We love to help welcoming changes and saying good bye to what doesn't serve you (anymore). We will help you to embrace life.
At Pura Vida we can only function with the grace of all team members. So we always talk about "we", as without our team members, no "Pura Vida". The team members are first of all the horses. Without them we would not be able to do our precious work. We are very happy with the owners of the stables we work with. As they make sure that the horses are able to live a life as close to nature as possible. The farrier, osteopath, dentist and veterinarian play an essential role in the well being of our horses as well. For our support groups we work together with colleagues, horse assisted coaches or hippo-therapists who experienced themselves one of the mentioned challenges. We will tell you more about them for each specific event. Last but not least, we thank our supporting family and the Divine force as that is our base and enabled us in the first place to start this incredible life journey.
My name is Bianca Rachel Fernandez - Van der Hoek, the driving force behind Pura Vida. I am the first born in our family and I have three younger brothers. We are born and raised in 's-Gravendeel, a small town in the Netherlands. Horses have always been my passion. So I feel grateful that we were able to have our own horses and even board some horses of friends in our backyard. When I was younger I used to be a quite ambitious dressage rider, competitor and instructor. When I was facing problems with Guito, our black gelding I learned about natural horsemanship. This really made a big impact, not only it improved my relationship with horses in general, but it enabled me to make some radical steps in my personal life as well. I decided it's time to discover the world and traveled for seven months. After meeting many Israeli backpackers and visiting Israel, I ended up living there for 1,5 year. This period has been an enrichment, getting to know so many different people, cultures and religions.
After that the desire to settle down and build a family started to grow. But somehow I didn't find my soulmate easy. After I took the first steps on my path to a big conversion, the love of life and I finally found each other. As he worked and lived in Belgium, I moved to Brussels. Our wish to build a family has been challenged. Doctors told us a natural pregnancy would be impossible, so we started the IVF-process. But while visiting the holy land, a miracle happened and we were blessed with our wonderful son, naturally conceived. Our son had a very difficult start, four weeks at the neonatal department, two small surgeries with anesthesia before he was not even one year old. He had dangerously swollen intestines and the cause of it was never found. The fear to loose our son, together with the challenges to build a new life without family, friends or in-laws around, in a language I didn't own yet, caused me a burn-out. But important to mention is that our son got out of this very well, thank God!
The birth of our son and my burn-out marked a turning point in my personal and professional life. I had to learn to accept that I am not always the strong, independent woman, convinced that if you are courage enough and work hard, you can conquer the world. I found it very hard to feel vulnerable, to experience how precious and fragile life is and not to be able to achieve much. But it learnt me what matters most and it was as well the right moment to fulfill my desire to make a positive impact on other people's life, as well as on my own. Since I was a teenager I have been considering to study psychology or religion or to become a primary school teacher, a youth worker or to work for an NGO. But somehow it was never the right thing or the right moment. Most of my family members are entrepreneurs in the retail and commercial field. So I have been managing several departments in the supermarket of my family for years. Later on I was a sales-manager in an international fruit vegetable import and export company. I really loved the dynamic and international aspect of it. But in the end in this kind of job it's hard to get my desire to make a positive impact fulfilled. As our son was born our priorities shifted as well. So time for a change, but what? As I was in the middle of the burnout, trying to get better, I tried to focused on what makes me happy: our son, my husband, my family and friends, horses, nature, ecology, healthy and pure food, children, spirituality, personal development, profound contact with, caring for and helping other human beings. So finally it clicked. My desire to help others combined with my passion, the horse, what's better than that?
So two years later I successfully finished my two years post-graduate "Coachen van mensen m.b.v. paarden" (Horse Assisted Coaching) of HorSense and Hogeschool West-Vlaanderen (HOWEST). As I love to work with children I successfully joined their complementary study, horse assisted coaching of children, that HorSense offered, as well.
When our son was about two years old we figured out he is facing some physical challenges. This is having quite an impact on our daily life, like three times a week physical therapy, regular medical check-ups, osteopathy etc.. But thank God he is developing incredibly well and he is a very cute, emphatic, smart and funny boy. He is such a ray of light!
Although I had a strong desire for another baby, it stayed unfulfilled. We have been facing quite some difficult times as this together with the loss of two unborn babies in the first 14 weeks of the pregnancy, leaves us with quite a hole in the heart. Facing these challenges I decided to follow the course "Rouw te paard" van I-for Horse in cooperation with Martine Huurman. This to help myself while mourning the above mentioned losses. But as well as I would love to help others, as I experienced it's quite a lonely process. Family and friends are often unable to understand what a huge impact the loss of an (un)born baby, child or unfulfilled desire for a child is having, often even for a lifetime. The same counts for parents of extra-ordinary children, facing physical and mental challenges. There will be new challenges and periods of mourning over and over again. I don't only experience this as a mother, but as well as a sister as one of my brothers is facing mental and physical challenges. To share these kind of emotions and challenges with peers, people who are experiencing the same, has been really healing for me. So that's why I decided to not only focus on individual coaching, but as well to help others facing the mentioned challenges in the middle of the herd, through support groups. This way we don't only feel the support of each other, but we will as well be able to experience the wisdom and healing qualities of the horse. This combination is so powerful!
I am feeling so blessed to be able to do this wonderful work!
This has been quite a deep insight into my personal life, my challenges and my motivation to start the beautiful project that Pura Vida became. I wrote a lot, like a talk a lot in daily life. During the coaching sessions I take another role, it's like I'm becoming another person. All attention and questioning is for you, to enable you to flourish. I would love to get to know you and hear your personal story!
Bianca Rachel Fernandez - Van der Hoek