24 Aug

What is Kermis you ask?  Well it looks like a Carnival or fair… except it is in the Netherlands and they call it … you guessed it, Kermis!  City blocks filled with carnival rides, games, kids young and old.  I celebrated Kermis with Marijke and her family in a town about an hour and half south of Alkmaar. Kermis is an annual celebration and most towns and cities throughout the Netherlands celebrate it.  It’s a reason for families to get together.  Spend a little time, eat some food…and wander the streets of the Kermis. It reminded me of the carnivals we used to have as kids… our Catholic schools parking lots transformed to a place of spinning metal contraptions, cotton candy and funnel cake.  No funnel cake in Holland, but a very similar sweet fried dough with powdered sugar on it.  I suppose somethings are universal…

Meeting and spending time with Marijke’s family was really great.  Her family was a relaxed and easy group of people who felt like “down to earth dutch”.  Although at times I felt like an alien in the midst of dutch conversations, I was often comforted by a friendly comment, a smile or question in English.  They joked with me and laughed and said I wasn’t missing much in not understanding the conversation!

The Netherlands, as you know, is a really small country.  I was told it takes a maximum of 5 hours to cross by car… and that is from one far most tip to the other.  But Marijke and her family are clear to point out there are still differences amongst the dutch and the different regions of Holland. After driving just an hour and a half south, it was about 5 degrees warmer as there wasn’t the cool breeze creeping in from the North Sea.  And I learned from Marijke’s brother-in-law that the southern most part of Holland has its own dialect.  It is so distinct and different from typical dutch, that those in the North cannot understand it… written or spoken.  Amazing!

So the mission continues, this adventure in Europe.  I have to admit that sometimes it is a bit strange being here.  Sometimes I want to cling to some idea of what  my life was like, should have been like or will be like in the States.  And in the midst of my traveling, I am exploring… am seeking… and wanting ways to be… centered.  In me.  Not thrown off like being on some twisted Kermis ride… Balanced – no matter where I live.  Sometimes I feel like I have this… and… often… I don’t.

Marijke has been taking horse back riding lessons from a woman who lives near Alkmaar who is an expert with horses and a Reiki student of Marijke’s.  They know something about being centered!  The stable is called belckmeerhoeve… don’t know what that means…. and the owner and primary teacher is Marion. Her work with horses is very unique.  Marion is sensitive to and pays attention to the energies of the horses… and works with people in the same way.  Marion says that when riding a horse it is not person sitting on top of horse… but rather the rider and horse connected as one.  It is the practice of the rider to stay connected and centered while working with and connecting with the horse’s energy. This place of centered is called  “one point” or “ki” in the practice of Aikido.  From my years of reading tarot cards it also reminds me of the chariot card… as I learned to interpret it..the powerful woman or man who drives the chariot… being able to stay centered and grounded within their own being while chaos and powerful energies surround them… but staying calm and centered in the midst of it… staying focused and and still being able to direct things…not getting lost in it.

So I am noticing, paying attention to ways and tools that can help keep me stay… centered… and grounded in the here and now…. in Holland which is where I am now… but wherever in the world I am!  One of the challenges I have is “staying in my body”… when I get nervous and sometimes  simply being social and around people… something in me just leaves…hits the road… and physically I am still there but really…I am…not.    Frequently my mind is off running… Ideally, when a person is in “one point” or in their center they are not thrown off  so easily. Jolting outside events or even the perceived threat of one do not have the same impact when you are centered.  So the practice, the exploration for me is… staying centered and grounded… and being engaged in life and traveling in Europe!  Ah, the exploration!

In a talk with Marijke, who in addition to being a Reiki Master is a therapist, she suggested that perhaps it is a thought in my head that is throwing me off my center.  She said likely it happens so quickly that I don’t even notice it, almost unconscious.  She encouraged me to “pay attention” to what I might be saying to myself that is perhaps a precursor to losing that center… that connectedness within me and connection to the people and world around me.

I am really impressed and interested in the work Marion and her team are doing with people and horses.  In addition to teaching riding lessons, she also offers what she calls equine therapy.  As she explained, the energy of the horses is such that it easily connects people with their feelings…  Often as a defense mechanism we (me…) may get lost in our thoughts as a way to avoid simply being with a challenging feeling or emotion.  But working with the horses give direct access to that which must be experienced and expressed to begin to… heal.   Marion says it’s not so easy to keep avoiding things when working with horses in therapy.

And last night… Marijke invited her neighbors over for dinner.  And guess what?  I am doing the cooking.  The is part of the trade that we worked out.  I cook in exchange for staying at her house.  It’s kind of funny for me to be doing the cooking considering the notion and experience I have of myself in the kitchen…(see previous entry on domesticity!).  But often, many times cooking is really…nice.  It feels… well, centering… and grounding…to take my time and chop vegetables and cook food.  Simple food.  And it’s appreciated, which is nice.  And it tastes pretty good!  The little time I spent in Wettensbostel in the kitchen did open up the space for a some fun and creativity…  I can feel a bit of excitement in throwing a few seasonings or ingredients together… sampling how they taste and adjusting as needed.  It actually feels sort of like … freedom.  Who knew I could find …. freedom… in the kitchen…

3 Responses to “Kermis”

  1. marijke lemmen 08/24/2011 at 23:37 #

    Hi Teresa,

    You are already in your bed and I should in mine too but I get lost in your website and read your blogs. I like them! I like your style of writing. Wondering or I can share it with others and I was wondering or you could share your stories with dutch magazines or from other coutries. I am also thinking of to share them in Reiki magazins.

    It is an idea, we can talk about it more if you want.

    Nevertheless I like them


    • nancieteresa 08/25/2011 at 09:00 #

      Hi Marijke, good to hear from you across the hall on my blog! Thank you! Yes, let’s talk more!

  2. Elizabeth Ohmer Pellegrin 08/25/2011 at 15:14 #

    Nancie Teresa or Teresa! Please share your stories in the Reiki magazine! Marijke, which magazines are you thinking of? We don’t get them in the States.

    Teresa, so glad to hear about your Ki lessons. Remember the Ki Training you did with Phil? One reason I recommend martial arts to people who tend to leave their body is it really makes you pay attention & stay in your body!

    Learning to stay in Ki . . . ahhhhh!
    When we practice this in a very physical way, somehow the body makes the connection bypassing the mind. With practice, somewhere along the way, the mind gets it too!



    p.s. I love this blog! I love the artwork you’ve done in it too!
    Very nice!

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