2020 continues to give us new information about what is actually happening in the world – in all it’s ugly, horrific truth, and also where the shadows of ourselves need to be brought into the light.

When we look back over our lives, we can identify many turning points and crossroads. Places in which we had a CHOICE on how to proceed. In reality there are no ‘mistakes’ or ‘wrong choices’ because each choice we make still leads us to where we need to go. Even those choices that bring tremendous pain and grief. Those may be the most powerful as the parts of us we have refused or weren’t ready to look at are ready to be explored.

As I look back over the last 10 years of my life, specifically from 2015 to the present when I began traveling and living in Europe, I am seeing many things. New connections. Things healed I did not realize were. Lessons learned. Hard times and good times. If I could go back to my first trip overseas, I would have made a much better attempt at journaling my days every night before bed. However, that trip was so packed and I was so exhausted most days I didn’t. I have a million photos from that trip to remind me what we did. Some notes in my journal but not at the depth I wrote on my second trip. The second trip I took alone and it created even more change than the first. What follows are the journal entries (for the most part) of my second trip which created an even more powerful spiritual transformation in me.

These articles were originally posted on my WWII Research & Writing Center website in 2015.

If you are interested in some of my European and Spiritual Journey since this trip, pick up a copy of my memoir, I BRING DEAD GUYS HOME.

October – NOvember 2015 Journey through europe and my soul

 

Spiritual Journey in the Soldier’s Footsteps

Day 1 – 14 October 2015

Spiritual Turning Points & Crossroads

Day 2 Part 1 – (15 October 2015)

Day 2 Part 2

Day 3 – 16 October 2015 – Bastogne, Belgium

Day 4 – 17 October 2015 – Bastogne, Belgium

Day 5 – 18 October 2015 – Netherlands, Margraten, Maastricht

Day 6 – 19 October 2015- Henri-Chapelle & Remember Museum

Day 7 – 20 October 2015 -Ammerzoden

Day 8 – 21 October 2015 – Heeswijk

Day 9 – 22 October 2015 – Arnhem

Day 10 – 23 October 2015 – Wandering Ammerzoden & Writing

Day 11 – 24 October 2015 – WWII Presentation at CRASH Museum near Amsterdam

Day 12 – 25 October 2015 – Zaltbommel, Netherlands

Day 13 – 26 October 2015 – Goirle, The Netherlands – Speaking for Liberation Day

Day 14 – 27 October 2015 – Honoring Dutch Liberators and War Dead

Day 15 – 28 October 2015 – Speaking on WWII records at Groesbeek, the Netherlands

Day 16 – 29 October 2015 – Den Bosch and the Ring

Day 17 – 30 October 2015 -Goree-Overflakkee Speaking Event & War Dead

Day 18 – 31 October 2015 – Lovenstein and antique shops

Day 19 – 1 November 2015 – Day with the Timberwolves

Days 20 & 21 – 3 Novmeber 2015 – Rijksmuseum & going home

© 2020 Ancestral Souls

 

 

 

The last three plus years, as I’ve navigated the life of being a single mom, business woman navigating uncharted territories, and becoming more spiritually aware, there have been times I’ve felt frustrated and lonely. Frustrated because no one is doing the kind of work I am and therefore I have no one to ask if there is an easier way. Lonely because the more I tap into my intuition, listen to the soldiers, or see signs (numbers, coins, feathers, etc.) and pay attention to my dreams, the more I see people walking out of my life. You see, a lot of people think those of us who communicate with anyone or anything on the “other side” must be crazy. We are all different. And all human. I think we should learn to honor and respect each other as humans with differences.

Mathilde and Jennifer (2)

Mathilde and Jennifer sitting on the bench the 1st Division soldiers used during the war.

On this trip to Europe however, I was surrounded by people who understood me. Some didn’t quite believe all the things I did, but kept an open mind. I was finding my tribe. One such woman who totally understood me was Mathilde Schmetz, who runs the Remember Museum (M&M Museum) with her husband Marcel.

I spent a few hours with Mathlide and Marcel and my friend Ralph on Saturday 17 October. It was not enough time to hear all Mathilde’s stories about the soldiers in the museum or really absorb the amount of materials there. I did however, get to sit on the bench at the table the 1st Division Soldiers used during the war! Mathilde and I took a photo together there. Needing more time at the museum, I returned on 19 October before driving to Ammerozden, Netherlands, where I was to stay two weeks.

The morning of 19 October was drizzly and a bit foggy when I set off from Simpelveld, Netherlands back to Thimister-Clermont to the Remember Museum. Thank God for GPS because I was stopped on one road less than 5 km from the museum due to tractors blocking the road. Turning around I had to try two different roads before I ended up on one that was not taking me in a circle and heading in the general direction of the museum. The adventure felt a little like my soldiers were taking me on a journey so they could see places they fought.

Along the way I hit a bad patch of road and the car bumped. I hoped nothing had happened to the tires as I continued toward the museum. Upon arrival, Mathilde greeted me with a big hug and coffee. We talked a lot about the soldiers and how they talk to us. She agreed we must keep their memories alive and teach

Bobby Bell, Jennifer, Mathilde, and Lou Aske.

Bobby Bell, Jennifer, Mathilde, and Lou Aske.

others how to do it and pass along their stories. She completely understood all the “crazy” things I told her. After some conversation she said she would take me to Henri-Chapelle Cemetery to meet Bobby Bell, the superintendent. I had not made it there on Saturday.

Bobby Bell and Lou Aske were very excited about the work I am doing and the research books I wrote. I’m so grateful for Mathilde for taking me there because they have a good relationship with the Museum. I didn’t spend much time in the cemetery, even though I had a long list of men to visit. It was lunchtime and the skies were still promising rain, so I visited one soldier and we headed back to the museum.

Over a warm lunch of soup and bread in Mathilde’s cozy kitchen, she, Marcel and I talked about the war. Then it was time for a short visit back to the museum. I was able to see the entire museum but not spend enough time there. You really need an entire day or more to see it, hear the stories Mathlide tells, and just be present there.

99th Infantry Division uniform.

99th Infantry Division uniform.

99th Infantry Division soldier William Markin.

99th Infantry Division soldier William Markin.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Everywhere you turn there is a photo of another soldier from the war. Often, you will see a photo of him when he was an old man at home or visiting the museum. What researchers may not understand is museums like this are full of research possibilities. Examining the photos and documents available in the exhibits and carefully viewing details within the exhibits can add a lot to research or a soldier’s story.

When it was time to leave the museum for my 1.5 hour drive to Ammerzoden, I realized that tour of the Belgian countryside my soldiers took me on, resulted in a flat tire.

My FIRST flat tire ever! And it happened in Belgium! HA!

Thankfully Marcel was able to help me get it aired up and patched so I could make the trek to Ammerzoden where I was then able to replace it the next day. I was also feeling a bit tired and as if a cold was coming on.

I suspect the soldiers knew it would be an inconvenience for me to deal with the tire, but they had some lessons to teach. And teach they did. I was a willing student.

If you are ever in Belgium near Henri-Chapelle cemetery, you must visit the Remember Museum. Be sure to plan several hours there to take it all in. You will not regret it.

Remember Museum (13)

Remember Museum (1)

© 2020 Ancestral Souls

 

 

 

Margraten (15)After leaving Bastogne on 17 October, I drove to the Remember Museum in Thimister-Cleremont, Belgium. I spent two nights in Simpelveld, Netherlands as I made my way toward Ammerzoden, Netherlands. My visit to the Remember Museum was shorter than anticipated and I ended up returning on Monday 19 October. The morning of 18 October I had a lovely breakfast at the B&B Atelier, Galerie en beeldentuin in Simpelveld. I slept in the blue room of this artist’s studio and home. It was a very peaceful place with a kind owner named Carina.

Ben, Jennifer, and Ralph at Margraten.After breakfast my friend Ralph arrived to take me out for the day. Our first stop was the World War II cemetery at Margraten – the Netherlands American Cemetery – to meet Ben. We arrived when the cemetery opened and it was very quiet even though a bus load of photographers arrived at the same time. The fog was still slowly rising off the land and the trees were bursting in color as leaves fell gently to the earth. It was almost as if the soldiers were hanging out waiting for us to arrive. It was quite a different experience than my first on 3 May during the Faces of Margraten. The energy on 18 October was very calm and peaceful.

The three of us visited the graves of many soldiers I have researched and talked about our respective research interests. Then at 11:00, our friends arrived and said we would have pancakes in Gulpen. That sounded great to me!

The pancake.

Pancakes in the Netherlands are not what Americans make at home. In most ways, they are better! You can have a pancake which has the base of a crepe more than a fluffy American pancake, with almost anything you want on it. The one I chose had ham, bacon, tomatoes, peppers, cheese, and oregano on it. Delicious! It was so large, it covered a large plate and I could not finish it.

After lunch we took a few photos and then Ralph and I were on our way to meet Ronald in Maastricht. After leaving Margraten on 3 May, my parents and I drove through Maastricht but we did not stop. Instead we went to Valkenburg. This was the right decision at the time but my heart knew it had to go back to Maastricht on the next trip.

 

 

Maastricht, Netherlands

I had a feeling on this trip I was going to explore my medieval past lives, one in particular with someone I was supposed to meet on the trip. The rest was unclear. What was clear the entire time, was the fact I was drawn to churches, cathedrals, and other buildings and villages which existed between 1100-1500 when the medieval period ended in Europe. There were some 1600 buildings which drew me to them but I’m not sure what that is about ….. yet.

MaastrichtMaastricht Bookstore Cathedral (12) is an olMaastricht Bookstore Cathedral (9)d city fuMaastricht Bookstore Cathedral (16)ll of history, drama, war, sacred places, and love. The one place I desperately wanted to see was the Selexyz Dominicanen Bookstore, the bookstore in an old cathedral.

Ronald and Ralph took me there first thing and I wandered around looking at the architecture, windows, walls, floors, old floor markers where people had been buried, and the books. So …… many ……. books. I did purchase one on the history of Margraten Cemetery.

Jen in Maastricht church candlesThe rest of our afternoon was spent walking all over Maastricht and Ronald and Ralph told me stories about what happened there during World War II. Along our walking tour we saw many cathedrals. We entered one to light some candles. The cathedral had a calm feeling with a mixture of sadness, joy, and hope.

It felt a little like home, and in a photo Ralph took of me, it seemed as if the current me was there but also the past me. After we lit some candles and said our prayers, I had time to walk through the darkened building and sit quietly with my thoughts for a while and explore. It is one place I hope to return for a longer period.

Our afternoon ended with a snack and beer in an outdoor café with more talk of war. It was a little drizzly, but that did not stop us from enjoying ourselves. It was a day of magic and healing for the soldiers who follow me, and myself.

© 2020 Ancestral Souls

 

 

 

Have you ever felt the energy crackling and happy, as if you knew the person you were about to meet would change your life? Or perhaps they were some long lost lover or best friend you had not seen in lifetimes? The more our awareness increases and vibration raises in love and light rather than darkness, the more attuned we become to the energies around us. Paying attention to these different energies can prepare us for meetings with new people. I had experiences like this on both my trips to Europe in 2015. An important one for my fall trip was on 17 October.

My friend Mark, had arranged for me to meet Helen Patton. Mark felt Helen and I had a lot in common and the projects we had would fit well together. When Mark arranged the meeting, the energy moved in such a way as if to say, ‘Your best friend has returned! Yay!!!’

This meeting was a last minute change to my itinerary before I flew to Europe. As I stated in an earlier post, I went with the flow for this trip. The change required me to skip visiting the Ardennes and Henri-Chapelle Cemeteries and miss meeting two Belgian MIA researchers. There are times when the universe says, ‘DO THIS NOT THAT,’ and magical things happen when we listen. Interestingly, 17 October was my final morning in Bastogne, a place very important to my heart, for reasons that only now make sense.

Jen and Helen Patton 17 Oct 15

Jennifer Holik and Helen Patton
exchanging books we created.

My friend, Doug, whom I had spent 15 October with at the Sauer River Crossing sites, would meet me earlier in the morning for coffee and then we would meet Helen at Le Mess. I was able to sleep in and enjoy a leisurely breakfast before checking out of Hotel Melba and making my way to the Tank in Bastogne to meet Doug. As I departed the hotel I spoke with Helen, who had to push our meeting from 11:00 to noon. That gave me approximately 1.5 hours to chat with her before I had to leave for the Remember Museum near Henri-Chapelle.

Have you stopped to think about how slow time moves when we are children and how quickly it moves when we are adults. I had 1.5 hours to speak with Helen, and in that time we needed to get to know each other and talk about projects. It might seem like a short time but was exactly what we needed.

I was able to leave Bastogne for the Remember Museum before 2:00 p.m. where I was going to meet another Facebook friend and visit the museum. Helen and I accomplished a lot in that short amount of time and gave each other a lot to think about. A working relationship had been formed. And most importantly, it was enough time for her to decide to re-arrange her schedule the week of 26 October and attend two of my talks in the Netherlands.

Now the question was, what other exciting things would happen on my trip. This was only day 4! I still had more than two weeks left of my trip.

© 2020 Ancestral Souls

 

 

Prior to this trip, I joked with some of my friends that it was good I was traveling alone. No one has the patience to put up with me and my constant itinerary changes. Trip planning began in May, but I allowed for the flow of things. I trusted the universe would connect me with the people I needed to meet and places it needed me to see. Trusted this even if it meant my itinerary changed multiple times a day the last two weeks. Trusted this even though plans changed up to the point I boarded the plane. I listened to my intuition and did what felt was right, even if it meant changing or canceling plans during the trip.

One of the things I wanted to happen on this trip was some downtime. Relaxation. Time to re-evaluate my life. Time to just be still. I’d spent almost every minute of the last three and a half years building a solid foundation in my new life. Doing so ensured my boys had food on the table, a roof over their heads, every bill was paid, and the boys had everything they needed. This meant I worked endlessly when I was not taking care of them, to build my ever-changing business.

Balance was achieved in work. Balance between work that paid the bills and writing which did not, until the book or program was done. As the years passed, there began to be time for me to just be quiet or relax. A little time to go out with friends. I’ve been burning the candle at both ends and know this will continue until the end of this year as I complete some things.

Maastricht (93)Balance was required on this trip. I needed days in which I was not meeting anyone and was not working. I had intended to work on client books during the trip, this did not happen. I needed days in which I could go sit in a bakery and sip coffee, eat something chocolaty, and write. Time to explore churches and museums or wander along the cobblestones anywhere I felt like going. To fill my soul with things I cannot get at home.

16 October 2015

16 October 2015 was one of those rare days. My plan for the day was simple. I was still staying in Bastogne and wanted to walk to the church for some quiet time. Then go to the Musée en Piconrue before lunch. Le Mess, the 101th Airborne Museum was on my agenda for the afternoon. Maybe even a nap!

I slept in, that grey, chilly, morning. After a delicious breakfast and coffee to warm me, I took a walk down the main street toward the church. I did a little window shopping and especially admired the incredible desserts which looked like works of art in the bakery windows. I made a mental (drooled on) note, to stop at one on my way back to pick up some sort of chocolate yumminess for the afternoon.

The Church and Museum

Bastogne church (1)My first stop was the church to look at the outside. Then I went across the street to the Musée en Piconrue. The exhibit, “From Texas to Bastogne,” was in one part of the museum. I wandered through there and somehow missed the second floor. It was fine though. Most of my time was spent in the main museum where I learned a lot about life in the Ardennes across the centuries.

Musee en Piconrue (23)I was especially drawn to the areas of the museum which focused on World War II and death across time. As a WWII historian and genealogist, are you surprised? There were wedding dresses made from parachutes. Beautiful grave stones and religious statues. There was even an old horse-drawn hearse in the museum.

One of my favorite areas of the museum was the folklore exhibit. This room described through dioramas, pictures, and text (nothing in English though) about the werewolves, devil, fairies, witches, gnomes, and knights which live in the forests of the Ardennes area. For the rest of the museum, I had the use of an English guidebook. I’m not sure why the entire museum wasn’t included, but it was fine.

When I was finished learning about the folklore of the area, I went back to the church. This was rebuilt after the war, but you could feel all the soldiers from the Bastogne area, and those attached to me from both sides of the war, stopping in to say hello or pray. There was peace there and no anger.

Bastogne Church (20)I ended up going into a room in the back of the church where shrines to Mary and Jesus were located. Visitors could light candles and sit if they chose. As I said in a prior post, I’m not religious and almost never go to Mass. On my trip however, I visited many chapels and churcBastogne Church (19)hes and lit candles. In Bastogne, I lit candles for all my soldiers. Those who have come to me in this life and those I took care of in past lives, especially World War I. After lighting candles I wrote in my journal and just sat. About an hour passed before I walked into the main part of the church to sit. Not one person entered the church while I was in that room with the candles.

Sitting in churches brings me and my soldiers, peace. I do a lot of energy clearing in those places which is healing and exhausting. Being still also allows time to observe my surroundings in greater detail. I take a lot of photos in churches to capture some of the beauty. Stained glass windows, religious art, stone floors and walls, crypts, and architecture.

When I was completely calm and peaceful, I walked back toward the hotel to pick up a piece of chocolate yumminess for later and have lunch at Le Nuts. Then it was time to visit my favorite place in Bastogne. Le Mess!

Le Mess – 101st Airborne Museum

On 1 and 2 May this year, I visited Le Mess, the 101st Airborne Museum. Friends told me about the basement of the museum which contained a bombing experience that was NOT to be missed. As am empath who writes, I don’t do things by half and over those two days I sat through the bomb shelter experience 11 times. I needed to experience it in as many ways as possible so I could write about it. On my October trip, it only took three times for me to be satisfied I understood it on multiple levels. (And did you know they change up the bombing “soundtrack” every so often?)101st Airborne Museum (37)

The museum had a stronger energy this time. I had expected to sit through the bombing experience more than three times, but couldn’t. When I made my way upstairs to the second floor, the energy there hit me like a brick wall. It was so intense, it exploded in my head as gigantic waves kept rolling through. I did a lot of energy clearing on that floor around the soldiers there, the items, and my own “stuff.” After only two hours in the museum I had to leave. The headache from the energy was terrible.

Clearing the energy

The soldiers and I had a long talk after that about not making me sick when they need me. I spent some quiet time at my hotel clearing more energy, writing, and Super chocolate yumminess (2)enjoying some coffee and that chocolate yumminess until dinner. It was bedtime before the headache was gone and energy had subsided.

What exactly was I picking up at the museum? Stories and energy from both sides. Americans and Germans. It isn’t just souls that carry energy but the items they touched and the places they fought and died.

And you know what’s interesting about the stories the soldiers and civilians tell? They are almost always the same. Each is usually asking for forgiveness, peace, and love. They want to release the anger the hold, even if only a little, and say goodbye so they can move on.

© 2020 Ancestral Souls

 

 

 

Before we get too far into my trip articles, I thought I should provide a little background. I’m sure there will be questions as to why I’m talking about spiritual things in my military work. A Turning Point arrived……. I like writing prompts because they help me focus on different kinds of writing and bring things to my awareness that might come no other way. I found one online written by Charity Hume on Cultural Weekly that started with this. William Styron, an American novelist said,

“A novel is a progress toward an event, after which nothing will ever be the same again.” A turning point reverses the previous world, and gives you a whole new identity. It burns up your past in a conflagration of everything you’ve ever known. To go on, you must forget who you were. That’s a turning point. No way back.

A Turning Point in my life came late 2010 when I chose to end my marriage right after I started my business. It wasn’t until mid-2012 I was able to move out and start a new life. Another Turning Point.

Maastricht church candles (9)

Since that time, many Turning Points have been presented. Difficult and painful choices were made. Life has gone up and down, as it usually does. People came and went, including family. I also began walking a path of spirituality to help me deal with all that had happened in my marriage and life. Organized religion wasn’t doing it for me. I began listening more to my intuition and reading about all those beings (angels, masters, relatives, guides, etc.) who exist to help us on our soul’s journey. I read about the meaning of dreams, reincarnation, and past lives. As I shifted, dealt with some of my baggage, forgave myself and others of things, and let go, my awareness grew as did my soul. There was less fear about living. My heart began to feel lighter, and slowly, more open. Then, two souls appeared soon after I moved out that helped move me forward, love me unconditionally, and brought others into the picture to help shape my life and especially my career. These souls were my great grandfather Joseph Kokoska and my cousin James Privoznik. If you’ve heard my talk “Finishing the Story” or read my book “Stories of the Lost” you might know a little about Joseph but more about his brother Michael who was killed in WWI. James was killed in WWII and still sleeps in Luxembourg Cemetery. I talk about him all the time on my blog, in my books, and social media. Joseph seems to have been with me a long time but I was more aware of his presence after I moved out. James showed up late summer 2012, after four people contacted me about him over a weekend. I had not researched his service beyond getting his Individual Deceased Personnel File (IDPF.) Many people in the genealogy world say, if a person or document appears – pay attention! Four people in a few days – yes I was paying attention. I started his research but never expected to write his story or cross Europe in his footsteps in April-May 2015. Nor did I expect to visit him again on my October 2015 trip. James’ research pushed me into the world of World War II soldier research in ways I never expected. Now, back to the point…..A turning point reverses the previous world, and gives you a whole new identity. It burns up your past in a conflagration of everything you’ve ever known. To go on, you must forget who you were. That’s a turning point. No way back. The same can be said for World War II research. We have a starting point which could be a story, a soldier, a photograph, an artifact, or an event. When we choose to take the journey of that research, we travel a bumpy, twisty, often obstacle ridden road. Along that road we meet many people who enrich our experience and help us continue to move forward. We gather clues as we travel and uncover secrets buried deep in the recesses of the past. Exploring these secrets and revealing them, can cause a turning point for many.

Magical forest near Arnhem.

Magical forest near Arnhem.

The journey we take as we research our soldier can take us to unexpected places where we have to confront our own issues, insecurities, fears, wishes and dreams. We can travel literally and figuratively across oceans and continents, across farm fields, rolling hills, and through magical forests, as we uncover the story and reveal the truth and lessons which exist. Traveling across a continent can open new doors to experiences, people, places, and things. It can also dredge up the past and things hidden, of which we may not have been aware. It can bring pain, fear, and love to the surface. Pain and fear we may not understand. Love which leaves us confused. The journey across land can take us deep within ourselves. Each person we meet along our journey can impact us in big and small ways. For me, the most important people are those that stand with us at a crossroads. Crossroads lead to Turning Points.

Zaltbommel (65)

Which road to take?

On my first trip to Europe, I stood at a crossroads in a sacred place full of love, strength, fear, bloodshed, and power. A crossroads where two hearts in this life, joined after they had been separated many times in the past. In that moment they joined the past with the present. The fear with love. Desire with hope. The impossible with the possible. Laughter, harmony, peace, joy, and love all mingled together at those crossroads. In that moment it was time to make a choice – return to the past or live in the present. Heal the pain and create a new future, or remain stuck standing between two worlds across time and space. All of this was orchestrated by someone long gone but never forgotten. Someone who knew both their hearts. Someone who knew how to heal her as she had healed him. There was still much to be done and this was only the first step. At that crossroads no wrong step could be taken. Each path led to greater love, hope, peace, and healing for her and many others. Her heart and soul knew this man standing before her was a key to unlocking something dark and hidden deep inside her, even if her head did not yet know. A connection made. Confusion reigned as sparks flew in bright colors around them. A heart that understood how deeply she felt and appreciated that about her. A heart who had and would take care of her through good and bad. A heart that brought her home to a land where she could make a difference in her life and others. The journey they took together was not easy and they parted at another crossroads because it is what their souls had agreed. Some people greet us for part of our travels, while others stay. Those who stay often have different roles along the route. They provide laughter, a release. Love, acceptance, support, strength. They bring a challenge or darkness to be fought with love and forgiveness. They teach and provide clues for us to piece together the vast puzzle of our soul’s journey.

Past and present merge....

Past and present merge….

Those Turning Points and the crossroads at which I stood earlier this year, led to the journey I would take in October to Europe, alone. That trip was destined to be taken without anyone but myself. Was it scary at first? Yes. Did I have things to prove to myself? Absolutely. And, there were new people to meet, experiences to be had, challenges to be overcome, forgiveness to be given, love shared, lessons learned, things to release, and inspiration spread. As it turns out on this trip, there were new crossroads in which past and present merged. Crossroads which led to new Turning Points.

 

Over the past three years, I realize I was put on this earth to do several things. Two main things are to be a war storyteller and healer, with no holds barred. I hope the posts about my trip bring something to your awareness. Make you question things you’ve held close. Release what no longer serves you. Opens your heart and soul. And maybe most importantly, encourages you to write your stories and those of your family. These posts are only the beginning of what I’m offering the world through my work. Stay tuned………

© 2020 Ancestral Souls