Tag Archives: Alkmaar

Goodnight, Alkmaar!

8 Sep

Well it is Thursday evening and I just returned from a bicycle ride into town.  Marijke’s home is in what we might consider the suburbs of Alkmaar.  But in truth it is not far from the center of town.  Just a short bicycle ride away.  The weather outside is cool and accepting.  It was a good night for a ride.

My time in Alkmaar in nearing an end.  I have been here, in truth, longer than I realized as time sneaks by me in my often timeless world.  Over four weeks.  But it has been good.  The time.  The connections.  And the generosity of Marijke of not only extending her home… but her consistent way of offering her hospitality and keeping me in mind as a part of her daily way.  To that I say, Dankjewel!  From the bottom of my heart!

As my final farewell and parting words to Alkmaar and for now the Netherlands, I off my appreciation in the form of the “ode to the bicycle”… Never before have I ever… ever seen such a place that pays homage to the bicycle the way the Netherlands does.  It may be normal life for the Dutch.  For me it is…well, out of the ordinary!  Just tonight I had my premier experience with the Dutch and bicycles.  It is essentially valet parking for bikes.  Okay, perhaps not that formal… but pretty good.  In town this evening we parked our bicycles in a free (gratis) underground parking garage for bicycles.  On the way down the stairs I prepared to struggle with my bicycle as is typical for me when escorting a bicycle down a flight of stairs.  But the Dutch are too smart for this.  First their premier levee system, now this.  Going down the stairs, on the outside, the perimeter of the stairs there is a… how would you describe it… a narrow, smooth track for your bicycle that allows you to easily roll it while you walk the stairs.  Incredible.  And then, when you arrive at the bottom in the garage, the friendly man gives you a numbered ticket… half on your bicycle, the other half with you.  And then you park!   Marijke’s tire was flat, so the nice man used the premier bicycle pump mounted to the wall to put a little air in her tire before she parked.  Outstanding.

I appreciate this the most about the Netherlands.  It’s persistent bicycle culture that has, indeed, put me to shame.  It wasn’t unusual to see someone almost twice my age passing me on their bicycle as I reluctantly asked Marijke, “how much longer now…”  A bicycle ride in the rain… just another day for the Dutch.  And then there’s Marijke’s neighbor… a grandpa who rides his bicycle over 20 km to work every day.

As I say farewell to the Netherlands, I prepare to return to Wettenbostel… leaving early Saturday morning. I am so grateful to have  a friendly welcoming place where I can return.  But for now I say Goodnight. Goodnight to the wind and the windmills.  The bicycle paths lined with cows and sheep.  The unexpected showers and expansive sky.  Goodnight!  Goodnight sweet Alkmaar!

Gypsy of the Soul

5 Sep

It is a rainy Monday morning here in Alkmaar.  I am reminded it is the beginning of the work week as Marijke is off at her job. The weekend was filled with an out-of-town adventure… as well as some soul-searching…as I am leaving the Netherlands this week.  There was a balance of enjoying time in the Netherlands, in the now, and exploring the inquiry of what is next on the journey.

Saturday was a trip down memory lane for Marijke as we visited the town where she attended college, Nijmegen. A jewel of a town just kilometers from the German border, it is rich with history as well as culturally and architecturally stunning and fulfilling. Around 2000 years old, Nijmegen has architectural remains and artifacts dating back to Roman times.  But it strikes a balance of feeling rich and rooted in history and alive and vibrant in the now.  As we arrived crossing the River Waal, I learned from Marijke that during WWI, the Germans tried to invade at that river crossing the bridge.  The Dutch met the Germans midway and ultimately stopped them from invading any further.

I had a few hours to explore on my own while Marijke attended to her own plans, and the town invited me in.  I wandered the river until I found a cobblestone road, pulling me uphill to the center of town. I was greeted by a Saturday outdoor market as well as the sounds of drums filling the street as there was a Samba and Salsa festival that weekend.  I went where my feet took me… and found a fabulous Thrift Store!  And later to the park near the old water tower with locals speckled throughout the green lawn enjoying the beautiful summer day.   I sat in the sun and drank in the park, the grounded earthy feeling of its history and strength as well as its creative spirit.

Later that day I met with Marijke and her nephew and his girlfriend.  They live in the heart of Nijmegen and were proud to share their historical but independently spirited town.  With a university just outside of the center of town, it is brimming with liveliness.  We dined together at an Italian restaurant that had been there since the 1940s and then an evening stroll through the city and… more Samba and Salsa drifting into the night air.  We returned late and tired… ready for a good night sleep.

And Sunday… time for self. And a little reflection.  There is one thing I am coming to see…in this gypsy life of mine… Being a gypsy is not just about meandering, just wandering from one place to the next.  Seeing where the next opportunity lies.  It is also about learning, exploring and beginning to be a gypsy to my own soul.  Wandering in unknown territories.  Being open to explore something new within me.  Listening to the cry or even the whimper of my own being and what it needs… and in gypsy spirit… being willing to go there and explore.  Sometimes those places may look interesting and sexy.  Sometimes they may not.

Just days before leaving Marijke’s home in Alkmaar  I find myself feeling somewhat like the the illustration of the children in the poem Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein.   In the image children are on the edge of a sidewalk floating in the sky… with a sign “the Edge” as the sidewalk crumbles off into nothingness.

I have been listening to those around me… and feeling the wandering and listlessness inside of me… I keep hearing from people around me words like intention and direction and questions like “what do you want?”… and still further  “it feels like you have no direction.” And wondering, curious where all of this fits in the world of flexibility, going with the flow and allowing things to unfold.  Looking for what it is that will ground me and seeking, exploring how to pay attention and see what it is I need and want… This passage seems to call for intimacy…. and not just an intimacy with others but an intimacy with the self.  Or at least a first date. A little coffee, willingness to say hello, spend some time and at least take a risk to offer something new, fresh, that is wanting to be nourished.

My time in the Netherlands has offered this to me… in has shown me what in my life needs attention. Like baby birds, beak open, screaming to be fed… and that being said, paying attention to where the hunger is… not just the need… but the desire and interest. I remember one time when reading The Artists Way by Julia Cameron, she offered a possible way as a roadmap to our inner artists…. notice the things that make you jealous.  This jealousy she says is something within you saying… I want that!  I want to play and to consider that aspect of self has somehow been… denied!  And explore even little ways to begin to offer yourself a piece of THAT!

There is still some time to be enjoyed here, rain allowing.  One more bicycle ride down the canal lined streets.  One more pass past the fields of cows and sheep.  And tonight… drum lessons!  Marijke is attending a class to learn jimbay and I will join her.  Yipee!  And later this week, we shall see…

Freedom

31 Aug

Freedom. Ah, perhaps one of the most questioned topics….  Janis Joplin, spiritual texts.  But what is freedom… really?  I suppose it just depends on who you ask…

I have been in the Netherlands now for about two weeks, and I have to say it has grown on me.  It has a sweet and simple essence to it and it is a pleasure to be surrounded by bicycles, canals, cows, sheep and of course windmills as part of the daily landscape on any average day.  Time here the past few days has resumed a moderate pace.  Marijke returning to work.  Me mostly staying by the house except for a walk here, a bicycle ride there.

A few nights ago Marijke invited two friends over for a Reiki exchanged.  I witnessed the rhythm of the evening as it was explained to me before hand…  Coffee, tea and something to eat… (strawberry pie for the non-sugar eaters… everyone but me…), then upstairs for Reiki share (for non-Reiki people, simply this includes gathering around a Reiki/massage table and taking turns giving and receiving Reiki…), and then return downstairs for more socializing and more to drink… some wine perhaps… and more snacks too.  A different beat from our Reiki shares in the States, less formal… and generally no tea and snacks served…

Her guests and friends for Reiki were a friendly married couple and it was a fun “dutch” experience for me.  They mostly indulged my need to speak English and we talked and shared and laughed about what was true in the States, what is true in the Netherlands and in Europe.  Marijke almost fell off her chair laughing when she heard it was not uncommon in the States to sing the National Anthem at “important” events.  This just doesn’t compute to her dutch mind… it is even a little ridiculous…  And flag bearing and waving, well perhaps just a little less regarded here in Holland.  They do, they said, when they remember, fly the Dutch flag on the Queens birthday.  That’s sweet.

Nationalism, the topic turned, has a bit of a different flair here in Europe as well.  According to my intimate conversation with a select three Europeans, there is still a significant degree of sensitivity to ideas like nationalism since the impact of the Second World War.  It is fine to love one’s country… but perhaps there is a fear, a concern of taking that too far… An example was offered of being in Ireland where an Irish man started singing his national anthem with pride.  There was also a fellow there from Germany and when he was invited to sing his anthem, “Germany above all… above all in the world…” there was hesitation… even perhaps, disgrace.  It certainly puts a different context on history to be in the countries where the atrocities of WWII happened… something that over in the states we are mostly isolated from…

But alas, Europe and the States are not all that far apart in some ways.  American culture has leaked into European culture and you see it everywhere.  Sometimes with a chuckle.  And at times, a little disturbing… Just today I was walking around the nearby shopping area and heard Lionel Ritchie “Say you, Say me” being piped in through the overhead music.  And the neighbors have a dog named Neil… named after Neil Diamond.

As the pace here gets slower and Marijke’s work schedule gets busier… it seems it will shortly be time to leave the Netherlands.  Or at the very least depart from the generosity and comfort of Marijke’s home.  We discussed this briefly today.  It will soon be time to go.  And the idea of being some place else, some place new brought to me… well, excitement.  Cool… something new… what’s next?  Could this feeling be something like… Freedom?…

Ah, it’s the adventurer in me that often excited by the spirit of something new.  But I have to admit I am not always smooth in this transition.  I can recall times in the past when something has come to a close… being delighted by the feeling of the possibility of what is next… something new… and then stricken with anxiety wandering through the uncertainty of it.  Well, it’s a way perhaps… a way to waddle from point A to point B… meandering through the uncertainty.  But perhaps this time will be different… a gentle shift from what is now to what is next.  A new country perhaps?

Which brings us to the original theme when I first arrived here in the Netherlands to stay in Marijke’s home… that is “go where you want to go, do what you want to do… we are loving you!”  Freedom.

Needing to be

29 Aug

I am sure many of you are familiar with the book and now movie Eat, Pray, Love.  In the real-life story a 30 something woman finds herself in transition… unglued, unlocked… and makes a choice to spend a year traveling.  3 months in Italy… Eat.  3 months in an ashram in India… Pray.  And 3 months in Bali… ultimately love.  Before I made the choice to embark on my journey in Europe, I remember an experience I had.  It was in the bathroom of the mostly empty home where I was house sitting in a suburb of New Orleans called Metairie.  In full transition form, I was living there lightly.  The house was empty and for sale. I had set up an inflatable mattress in the bedroom.  My friend and Reiki teacher, Elizabeth Ohmer Pellegrin, who was sharing the space for her Reiki practice had thankfully set up a futon and coffee table in the main room.  Ah, a little comfort of home in the sparseness of it all.  Things were coming to a close at the house and a transition ensued in my world.  The house was under contract, all of my personal belongings fit into a storage unit the size of a closet, and my 1996 Ford Taurus, which had given me 5 good years, was about to collapse.  What am I going to do?  I looked in the mirror in the bathroom… and what I heard was… Eat, Pray, Love…. I smiled a little to myself… taking some comfort in the possibility of a journey.  And that I might deserve to have such an adventure.  I was in need of one.

But where, for now, Ms. Gilbert and I depart ways was she had a plan… a framework for her journey… and at least,I think, an advance on the book she was writing.  And so it seemed, as I canceled my return flight to the states in June and rescheduled it for May of 2012… I was excited but also in a state of the unknown.  Unknown of where I would go and what I would do and unknown how I would finance my adventure…  Now I have some practice and power with this state of being living the mischievous life that I have led in New Orleans… and then of course post-Katrina.  A friend once told me that I am like a cat… I always land on my feet.  But jumping and leaping all of the time can get… exhausting.  It’s that word again… balance.  It seems, here in my state of flux I am craving it.

So I had a little walk today with Marijke, my friend and host in the Netherlands and she asked me… what is your wish?  What is you wish for your time in Europe?  And in a way, the conversation was a surprise for me.  I suppose I was thinking that in going with the flow I would have to surrender to the will of the way…  and in the way, no one asked me about my wish. That somehow I did not have a choice.   Hmmm, interesting question, I thought…  I have to admit, a few weeks into my visit in the Netherlands… I have a lack of focus and what seems to be a handful of possiblibilities for “what’s next” depending on this, depending on that… My “dependence on” has me hypnotized by my need… and less in the here and now.  But she offered, I could consider my wish… and have that as my intention.  For example, she offered, Ms. Gilbert and Eat, Pray, Love… the book that she happens to be currently reading… started out with an intention… of where she would be for each period of her journey.  She offered that as something to consider.  What is my intention?  What would I like this year to look like… with off course leaving room for flexibility and shifting and unexpected opportunities.  But a nice idea nonetheless!

And somewhere in this I find that I need room to be… where I am… and the idea of immediately moving here, then moving there… no maybe there… is a little unnerving.  What would I like?

I don’t know the answer to that question yet.  But I will spend some time chanting about it and sending Reiki.  How does one walk that path… of going with the flow, listening to and being guided by a higher wisdom… but still feeling and staying grounded along the way and being connected to our own wants and desires.  Hmmm… I have explored this road before.  But now, in Europe, in Alkmaar, the volume seems to be turned up a little higher.  It’s so nice to have someone who is kind enough to ask the questions… on a lovely stroll through the maze of paths near her home.

Tonight, friends of Marijke’s are coming to her home to join us for a little socializing and some Reiki.  And for me… it’s hard to just be with all these questions running through my head!  Alas, maybe I’ll start with exploring and asking… what do I want… what is my wish?  And explore the spirit of the intent for my journey.

Living In Stress

26 Aug

Yes, technically, I am living in Alkmaar, Netherlands.  I don’t mean to confuse you.  But sometimes it feels like I am… living in stress.  What is stress actually?  Technically?  I am sure someone, somewhere out there who is reading this knows for sure.  Stress.  It seems that I am encountering it… have encountered it…. in the midst of my leisurely stroll throughout Europe.  What to do?  Who to be?  How to make a living…  I am not trying to be stressed about it… but alas it seems it is there nonetheless.

In truth it feels like something in me is about to bust loose… and something else in me is holding on tight for dear life… trying to hold back the reigns… gripping dearly.  Keeping those big ol’ wings from busting out… anyway, I digress…But this feels like…. stress.  It reminds me of a little song my friend and host in Wettenbostel, Germany sang to me onetime after Reiki… she sang, “Hold on tightly, let go lightly…”.  It was sweet and simple and made me laugh.  And it actually seems like practical advice.

A friend of mine the other day wrote to me that I had some wild oats to sow… while I am here in Europe… At first the thought of this sounded exhausting.  Oh no, I thought… didn’t I sow my wild oats in my 30s?… I quit my full time job, I worked at a youth hostel… I flew to California to meet up with an Australian driving a car he called… well, nevermind… but didn’t I do that already?  And I’m 40… haven’t people already sowed their oats by the time they are 40?  I thought perhaps this next phase of my life might look more like… I don’t know… Mother Teresa or something….

But then something happened.  I noticed it during yoga.  I was laying down in shavasana and I felt a little something in me… it was like the essence of.. the spirit of… someone I know who I would say “sows her wild oats”…I won’t mention any names… and that essence, that spirit… was in me…. Yes I noticed a little hint of wild expression… joie de vivre…in me… ready to play.  I wasn’t sure what to do with this.  I felt a little parental with it, thinking, oh now… can’t we just… I don’t know… keep that under control somehow…

So as for sowing wild oats, we will see… what happens… what emerges.  Yes that’s the way.. blossom, flower, go with the flow…  Sowing wild oats is not necessarily something one can program or plan… let’s see, this Friday I will meet up with my friend Thomas for lunch and after lunch I will… SOW MY WILD OATS!!!… no it doesn’t work that way.  And honestly, I can’t say that I know what it would look like at this point in my life.  I don’t really drink.  Drugs are mostly a bore.  I’ve been doing yoga, meditating and reading healing spiritual books… practically nonstop…for the last 7 years… Golly gee, is it possible it’s time for something different?  Or at least a little shift… maybe moving towards some… I don’t know… balance?

But for tonight… no wild oats to be sewn just yet.  Whew… Sometimes I feel a little bit like the nerdy kid in the movie 16 candles… the one who is begging his parents to let him be home with them as they drag him off to the dance.  “No, he says!  I want to be home with you!…”  The little child within me, wanting to stay home, tucked in safe and sound.

And as for stress and living and well all of that… it’s okay.  Because it too will plays its game.  It’s tug of war with its way.  And I will…. well hold on tightly… let go lightly and MAYBE…eventually… let loose and have  some fun!

Happiness

18 Aug

Well, I have been in Alkmaar, Netherlands for about a week now.  And who knew that having a nice place to stay, some comfort and friendliness of “home”, and good meals to eat would be…freeing.  But it turns out that a big dose of some good old fashion comfort, hospitality and a little stability are just what the doctor ordered….

It has been a quiet day today.  So quiet that I find myself restless.  Isn’t there something I should do?  Move to the left… move to the right.  Mind wandering… searching the internet… and then, underneath the surface I notice… that I am… happy… for those of you following my nearly daily blog, you will take note that this is the second appearance happy has made in my daily dialogue.  I take note of it in my life because… for a while now it… happiness… has eluded me.  As I find it now, while I am hanging out on the couch in Marijke’s house in Holland, it makes me wonder if happiness hasn’t been there all along.  Hanging out beneath the surface while I raced or darted about my day… worrying or making plans or losing myself in thoughts and emotions.  There it is, happiness, just hanging out drinking a cup of coffee… wondering if we are ever going to notice that it’s there, and in that, not really caring one way or the other.  After all, it is happy.

Happiness for me in the past 24 hours has included seeing two very lovely dutch towns not far from Alkmaar.  As I have heard new acquaintances say, these towns are “typical dutch…”  Ya know, canals, boats, bicycles… and of course windmills.  But lovely all the same.  I visited a college down called Leiden yesterday.  This is the town where Marijke works.  I accompanied her to her workplace, walked down a perfect little path about 2 kilometers and before you know I was in the town’s charming center.  A little shy when on my own, I hesitantly chose a place to stop for coffee and a sandwich.  It was on the canal and my seat at the coffee-house overlooked the water.  My sandwich was smoked salmon, cheese, tomato and cucumber on a multi-grain bun.  Yummy!  After lunch I reconnected with Marijke and we headed for a town called Haarlem.  Equal in charm to Leiden, it had a softer style and pace.  It was a place you could just relax and be, filled with charming shops and restaurants, cobblestone streets.

And for now I am at home…just… hanging out… me and happy.  Later tonight we will connect with a friend of Marijke’s.  Low key.  Chill.  And… freeing.

Where there is a will, there is a way

16 Aug

Hmmm… it’s a good phrase.  Not even sure where I heard it the first time.  When I was designing and selling greeting cards in Austin, TX one of my cards had that phrase on it… where there is a will, there is a way.  But what is this actually about?  I have found that my own “wilfulness” only gets in my way.  But I suppose there is a greater will, a greater wisdom that leads the way… that can be heard when I listen.   I consider this phrase when I look at my journey here in Europe… starting out as a month-long exploration…. extending it to a year, not knowing what will unfold, where I will go, and how I will afford this journey.  Ah, I guess this fits somewhere along the lines of faith…. paying attention… and sometimes going with the flow.

Going with the flow brought me here to Alkmaar.  It has been a mellow encounter so far. I am most grateful that my host, Marijke, too has a love for the outdoors.  This weekend we embarked on a bicycle ride to an area known here as the dunes.  A scenic ride down those lovely paved bicycle lanes and yes, flat roads brought us to a more hilly wooded area, the dunes, close to the sea.  We were not alone, surrounded by other dutch families enjoying the fortune of a sunny warmish day.  We stopped midway at a coffee shop nestled in the woods and enjoyed a cup of cappuccino for Marijke, her signature drink, and herbal tea for me… a standard compromise for me with my no-caffeine no sugar policy.  As we made our way through the dunes and near-bye tourist friendly neighborhoods, we took a break at one of Marijke’s favorite dutch lunch spots.  We both enjoyed a traditional dutch pancake… me thinking, I can’t eat pancakes… I can’t eat sugar!… but alas, put all fears aside, this is a lovely savory pancake filled with things likes onions and cheese and mushrooms.  Yum.  Quite tasty.  And a Big pancake, like a small pizza!

And now, Marijke has returned back to work as her summer vacation is complete. The past few days I have been taking it slow with more time to myself.  A bicycle ride here.  A walk there.  I can now find my way to town on my own by bicycle and took a short ride there early yesterday evening.  I wandered a bit aimlessly through cobblestone streets lining the many canals.  I took an adventureous diversion down a small cobblestone street only to retreat in embarrassment as I discovered it was sort of a “red light district.”  Only identifying this idea with Amsterdam, I wasn’t expecting to find this in sweet little Alkmaar.  But there it was.  Innocent enough.  Red curtains, pretty women in lingerie sitting in the windows like merchandise.  Men lining the street.

Today has been a moderately peaceful day … some sun, some tea, and oh yeah, way too much struggle with myself.  Perhaps its that will of mine again.  With so much time on my hands and uncertainty, it sometimes gets the best of me.  Surely, I think, there is something I should DO!…  As a student of a Course in Miracles I am exploring the idea introduced in one of the recent workbook lessons, lesson 135.  It says “a healed mind does not plan.  It carries out the plans that it receives through listening to wisdom that is not its own.  It waits until it has been taught what should be done, and then proceeds to do it…”  Perhaps that is the will that leads to a way… the will of a greater wisdom… even for a young(ish) woman exploring her way through Europe…and ultimately exploring a better way to be… fun, peace, play and plenty… with no plan.  In that way, this trip is an experiment in faith.

And in the meantime, while I wait or don’t wait or… sometimes just don’t know… I am grateful.  I am grateful to be here in the Netherlands and that someone as kind and generous as Marijke invited me to visit with her.  I am grateful to have some time and space to go slow.  And I am grateful to let go a little… of which is required of a journey of this nature.

So there is a little more sun to enjoy for the day.   And tonight, having some fun and doing my best to listen to the will… and discover the way.

Feeding My Soul

13 Aug

I just finished reading the book Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert, the same author who wrote the book Eat, Pray, Love – a book and now movie of her year adventure overseas after the end of her marriage.  Committed is a continuation of the “love” story from her first book.  One of the things that struck me in the book was her description of her now husband, “Felipe”, as a traveler.  She says what makes him a traveler is his ability to make himself at home anywhere in the world.  He likes it simple.  He might even be boring… but he has a capacity to carve out his world anywhere that he is in the world and make himself at home.  Now, I am new to traveling and definitely new to being in countries that don’t speak my language, but I think if I would have to call myself a traveler… that is the kind of traveler that I am.  Like Felipe.  Knowing and liking some things that feed my soul and seeking to create those things around me wherever I go…

There are some things I just love, that light me up, and finding and connecting with them brings me peace no matter where I am.  Yes, there is a particular delight in experiencing some of these things in new places… What is great about new places… especially for me in Europe… is that just going down a new road or new path can be a sheer delight!

Top on my list of feeding my soul is bicycle riding.  How great it is!  My dream, my wish when living back in the Metairie, a suburb of New Orleans, and considering where else I might live, was the next place that I lived would be a fun place to ride my bike.  At the time Europe wasn’t even on the map, but when it comes to bicycle riding Europe has far exceeded my expectations!  Now here in Alkmeer, Netherlands, this place is so bicycle friendly that there are roads created just for bicycles – no cars allowed.  And we’re not talking just paths alongside the main road, which of course they have, but distinct roads just for bicycles (and scooters…)  that easily pave their way around the community and into town.  These roads even have street names… like a real road. Amazing.

Yesterday Marijke and I took a bicycle ride into the center of Alkmeer.  She has two bicycles and was kind enough to lend me the newer, fancier one.  Ah so smooth and good to ride!  We easily followed the path from her home along the canal-lined bicycle road… and in only four kilometers we parked our bikes and enjoyed our tour around the cobblestone roads and stores at the center of town.  Holland is nice and flat like New Orleans since it too is below sea level which is great for endless and tireless bike-riding. It feels so good and independent to me to just hop on a bicycle and go somewhere… particularly somewhere beautiful.  And, this same path into town takes you to the train station… and from there you can go… anywhere!…

I have to say that it also feeds my soul to have access to  a car… not necessarily my own personal car, but wheels nonetheless.  I love the feeling of being able to just pick up and move… movement.  Just last night I asked Marijke if she would like to join me for a stroll… her response was… would you like to go for a stroll at the sea?… the sea, I thought.  Well of course!  I had never thought of that… not knowing we were so close to the sea and that it was easily accessible for evening strolling.  Being an American chick, I had not yet been to the “sea”… but to the ocean, the gulf… The sea sounded great!  So we hopped in her car and within about 15 minutes and a beautiful tree lined drive, we were at the sea!  At first I didn’t believe her as there were dunes blocking the view to the right.  But she said, and over those dunes is… the sea.  And I walked a little… and looked… and there it was… in its beautiful magnificence.

Which brings us to the next thing that feeds my soul… beauty!  Particularly natural beauty!  Love it!  It was about 9pm and the sun was starting to set and the water spread out like glass.  The tide was low and the water stretched out from the beach clean and long.  Its smoothness spoke like a sea… so calm and alive.  Marijke said that if I swam out into the sea… and just kept on going… I would reach Britain.  I took her word for that.  But, with just a quick snappy drive we both enjoyed a stroll with a scenery and a world that was utterly satisfying.  And a full moon, too!

Apart from these outer-worldly soul soothing activities, this traveler also needs to satisfy my soul from the inside.  Simple things like a regular dose of Course in Miracles… a short read of the text and nearly daily practice of the workbook in back.  My daily practice of the Art of Living Sudarshan Krya… and of course Reiki.  These spiritual tools are priorities in my travel backpack and feed my soul whether I am in Marijke’s home in Holland or hanging out at the Seminar Haus in Wettenbostel.  And with these tools I am willing to travel… to places new to me and undiscovered… both inside and out.

So, here I am, learning to feed my soul no matter what the scenery… what the location…  Right now I am in Marijke’s kitchen watching the rain pour on the canal outside while her cat Sil keeps me company on the kitchen table.  Much rain here.  They say it is not typical for this time of year.  So for now we dart out when we can during the dry times.  Sometimes we see a spec of sun.  And when it is not dry… well, staying warm and dry someplace inside.  Enjoying a cup of a tea, a good book.  Ya know…

Abundant

11 Aug

Well, my world has shifted a little bit.  Just a car ride away (about 6 hours) from the small but big world of Wettenboste,  Germany, I have now arrived at the home of Reiki Master Marijke Lemmen in Alkmarr, a city in the Netherlands.  A new language, new people, and I had to cross a very large dike to get here….  So here is my new and exciting information I have gained about the Netherlands that I will now share with you….

The Netherlands as we all know is also called Holland… so what is the difference?  Why do some people call it Holland and some people call it the Netherlands… I didn’t know….  Well, what I learned is that technically the country’s name is the Netherlands and a large and important region within the Netherlands is known as Holland… So, somehow, some way of which I am not totally clear… the country also became referred to as Holland.  So, next … that big dike we drove on to get here… it is called the Afsluidijk and it is 32 kilometers long (that’s 20 miles…)  For those of you from New Orleans to appreciate – it is not quite as long as the the causeway (23.83 miles) which crosses Lake Ponchartrain and incidentally holds the Guininess Book for World Records for longest bridge in the world over continuous water… but it is long nonetheless.  While driving on Afsluidijk the north sea is on one side…to the north… and on the other side is an lake created by the dike called Ijsselmeer, translated as lake Ijssel.

Before the construction of the Afsluidijk and other dikes, the Netherlands was a smaller country.  It is the intricate dike system that gave it access to new land that without the dikes is submerged in water.  Again, New Orleans people will appreciate this as New Orleans itself is below sea level.  The bonus of the Netherlands, though, is it has no hurricanes…. although it too has it’s history with storms and flooding.  They have a Monarchy which is mostly not involved in the politics of this Democracy.  And there is a strong social infrastructure here that supports people and families with good medical care and financial and housing support if they are out of work.  However, about 40% of their paycheck goes to the government to support this system… Yikes! It is one of the most densely populated countries on earth… which does not surprise me from the  small glimpse of it I have seen,  streets populated with rows of townhouse like homes and apartment buildings.

The temperature is cool here today and I am beginning to accept that I need to throw my ideas of what summer is like out the door.  I am wearing long pants and a fleece jacket with a raincoat when outside.  It is overcast and the wind here has a bite.  Yes this is a windy little country with gusts that will come up from behind and grab ya – kind of like the the windy little town where my mom and dad now live…Belton, Missouri of all places!  Marijke’s community of Alkmaar is on the Northwestern side of the country not far from Amsterdam.  It’s population of about 100,000 people is a world away from Wettenbostels population of, I think 58… that’s 57 now that my host’s daughter has moved…  Alkmaar has that European sensibility for bicycle riding with easy bicycle paths lining many roadways.

As I am settling in to spend a little time here, I am often overwhelmed by people’s generosity and Marijke’s generosity specifically to invite me here as a guest in her home.  As I explore my way in her home the theme here seems to reflect a song we sang as people were leaving Friends and Reiki last weekend in Wettenbostel… it went like this… “rainbow (insert name, like… Teresa)… rain bow (insert name)… go where you want to go, do what you want to do… we are loving you…” So I am here honored to be a guest and exploring what it is like to be in the space of someone saying – go where you want to go, do what you want to do… and in that space, also honor, respect and contribute to them…

And all of this is… well, abundant.  Especially the groceries we picked up today!  It has become clear to me just how much I love good, simple food and how it is a way that I really feel cared for and nurtured.  It has been fun living in Wettenbostel and getting more comfortable preparing food and doing that in community with others.

So, wow, I am in the Netherlands!  The wind is blowing!  And I am exploring “go where I a want to go… do what I want to do…”

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