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
1 November was one of my very favorite days of the trip. That morning I drove to Achtmaal, Netherlands to meet some of the Friends of the Timberwolves at the Achtmaal Museum. I met Esther, Adrie, Sjaan and Kevin, Peet, and Herman.
The day was perfect. Warm sun, a slight breeze, colorful fall leaves falling from the trees, and new friends. We met at the museum and after coffee and cookies with a history lesson thrown in, I had a tour. Time was short because we had a lot to see that day, so on my trip in May I will have to try to meet with the group again and see more of the museum. The museum houses not only Timberwolf artifacts but also artifacts from other groups who fought in the area.
Upon completion of the tour we hopped in two jeeps and took off through the countryside. Peet was my driver and also the man who gave me a history lesson over coffee. As we drove, he told me about the routes we took, where the fighting occurred and details about the men and war. We stopped at many sites to see where battles happened, including were my friend John Tyrrell was wounded.
It was very interesting to look at my photos and the little bit of video I shot while Peet was driving. There are a lot of red orbs in my photos. Soldiers watching and waiting. Protecting. Usually they don’t show up quite like that in my photos. But there they were!
Seeing the places battles were fought, or concentration camps where so many died, is high on my list of things to do when I visit Europe. What is difficult is trying to picture these now serene, often beautiful places through the eyes of someone who was there 70+ years ago. Trying to wrap my head around what happened there and then put that into words that explain it, is difficult. It is often unimaginable the horrors that took place in such a calm place where crops grow or sheep graze today. And everywhere we went, I could feel the presence of all the soldiers, regardless of side on which they fought, in those fields. In some areas, like the Battle Between the Dikes, the energy was so intense it rode in waves through me.
After visiting many places the Timberwolves fought, we stopped for lunch in an old building where I met Toine Vermunt, a local historian and author. Toine gave me a short history lesson after lunch before we departed the area. He showed me maps of Holland and explained where the Timberwolves were, what happened at the building we were having lunch in, and what we would see in the afternoon. The Battle Between the Dikes. Toine gave me a booklet in English, he wrote a few years ago explaining this battle. I am grateful to have this history.
Toine rode with us to see the area where the Battle Between the Dikes took place, after first stopping to lay flowers at a Timberwolf Memorial. It was as if the Timberwolves were waiting for us because the energy at the memorial about dropped me to my knees.
Our next stop was at a woman’s home where we were allowed to walk behind and stand by the canal and look at the area where the men were fighting and attempting to cross. Another beautiful place where such horror occurred.
Driving through the areas where the Battle Between the Dikes was fought was intense. The energy from both sides argued with each other. The Allied soldiers were calmer and just wanted to go home. The German side was angry to the point I was feeling a bit nauseous for a while. I cannot count the number of times that day I said clearing statements to send people off into the light and transmute the energy.
As the afternoon began drawing to a close, our last stop was at the Basilica in Oudenbosch. We had about 15 minutes there because they were about to close. It is another place to which I must return. The Basilica is a small replica of St. Peter’s in Rome. Small does not do it justice as it feels gigantic and I felt very tiny in that beautiful place. I was able to light some candles for my soldiers and say some prayers before we left.
The Basilica held a lot of energy also. It felt heavy as if every prayer, question, wish, hope, dream, despair, frustration, and death that ever was left in the building, remained. In a way I was happy to only have 15 minutes in that place. After such an intense day, any longer might have done me in.
After returning the jeeps to the Timberwolf HQ and saying goodbye to my new friend Adrie, the rest of us went out for dinner before I drove back to Ammerzoden, where I was staying for two weeks.
The day I spent with the Friends of the Timberwolves was one of my favorite days from this trip. It was incredible and moving to be surrounded by people with such passion for World War II and our soldiers. People who understood the soldiers still walk in the mists and live among the items in their museum. People who honor the memories of those who gave them their freedom. And, my absolute favorite part of the day – meeting Kevin who is a teenager and has the desire to preserve the stories of these men. It warms my heart to see young people wanting to be involved in this work. It provides the promise that when the older generation is gone and my generation is aging, there will still be someone sharing the stories and memories.
Today was the day I was going to find the silver ring the universe kept saying I needed to find. And where was it going to be? Nijmegen!
After a leisurely morning of sleeping in to recover from the prior two days and prepare to speak again tonight, I thought I would head toward Groesbeek and stop in Nijmegen to look for this ring. So I drove along beautiful roads and got to Nijmegen and felt like that was not the place to find the ring.
Hungry and a bit frustrated about this voice in my head, I decided to ignore it and continue to Groesbeek and find lunch. It was a bit cloudy and grey but people were out and about and there was a happy atmosphere in Groesbeek. I found a little café to have lunch where I ate a delicious sandwich and relaxed over coffee afterward. Discovering there was only one jewelry store in town, and the owner was on holiday, I took a walk.
I discovered a lot of Liberation Route signs all over the town which depicted scenes from the Operation Market Garden time period of September 1944, and pointed out points near the signs so you could get a then and now perspective. Walking along I thought it would be a good idea for the next trip to actually figure out where all these signs were in each town so I could go on an adventure and find them all!
Then and Now
On my walk I did find a chapel and was able to light some candles and sit for a while and contemplate life. Then when I was finished there I did a bit of shopping and headed toward my hotel for the evening. I was staying at the
where I was to speak, recommended having dinner. Apparently their restaurant is top-notch.
On the way to the hotel I stumbled upon the Groesbeek Canadian War Cemetery. Of course I had to stop even though it was a drizzly day at this point. The soldiers called out. There were moments when the sun tried to peek through the clouds and shine light down on us.
The cemetery is beautiful and peaceful and situated on a hill overlooking fields and forests. Only a couple of people were there when I arrived and one soldier was near the Cross of Sacrifice. I spent a lot of time looking at the stones and photographing them. The CWGC stones all have a quote or prayer or something on the bottom. They are unlike our ABMC stones. As I walked I even passed a bench with soldiers just hanging out and talking. They were enjoying the quiet. It was the perfect way to spend some time that afternoon.
I checked into the hotel which was situated near a forest and some fields with sheep. Even though the day was gray and misty, it was peaceful and beautiful. My room was gigantic and the back doors opened onto a small patio which was against the field. Just a short walk across the field of sheep and I could be in a forest. I spent the afternoon relaxing and writing before I had to get changed for my program and dinner beforehand.
Rense was not wrong when he said the restaurant was highly recommended. I had the most delicious, savory roast duck, vegetables, and salad for dinner. Because of timing I had to rush a little, but oh my, it was delicious.
I arrived at the museum and met two Facebook friends, Herman and Bob. These kind gentlemen carried my box of books and made sure I made it in the dark from the parking lot to the museum. We met with Rense and got me set up in their theater. Then it was off to the café for tea and meeting people before the program.
Several people I knew were at the museum that evening, including Helen, Hans and his two sons, Bob and Herman. The theater was half-filled and people were very receptive to the stories and information. When the program was over, many of us gathered in the café again for coffee and conversation.
My third program in the Netherlands had ended and the experience was great. I met many wonderful people who shared their stories with me and gave me information so I can share it with others.
Later when I returned to my hotel, the moon was rising high in the sky. I opened the back doors in my room that led to the patio and watched the moon rise as the clouds floated by. I heard noises in the forest as if the soldiers were wandering around or settling down for the night. You could feel their presence so intensely. After wishing them light and love and bidding them goodnight I closed the doors and drapes and soon headed off to dreamland. As I counted my blessings and thought briefly about the following day, I was determined to find that ring. And so the next day………
Forgiveness and healing can arrive at the most incredible and unexpected moments.
Throughout this trip I knew I was healing and releasing things from medieval past lives. I also knew I had to work through some forgiveness for myself where my soldiers were concerned. And there needed to be the release of my soldiers to move on. We can’t stay stuck to each other forever. I’d had many conversations about this with my friend Mary, who has helped guide me on this spiritual journey. She had said once I had to let them go and forgive myself for not being able to save them all. Little did we know what form that was going to take.
On 27 October Helen Patton and I joined John Boeren for a day of Liberation Ceremonies. We again saw Matt and Gerrit and many others we had met the evening before when I spoke. John took us first to a Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery for a ceremony to honor the British forces that liberated Tilburg. The event was in the British forces cemetery and we could not have asked for a more perfect day. The sun was blazing high in the sky, shining down directly on the graves in gorgeous healing beams of light. People gathered and bagpipes played as those who participated in the ceremonies marched into the cemetery toward the podium.
The ceremony was in Dutch, but it didn’t matter what language it was in. The sentiment was visible to everyone. Honor those who gave us our freedom. Children helped dignitaries lay flowers at the Cross of Sacrifice and then it happened.
Release. Healing. Forgiveness.
A woman got up to sing Vera Lynn’s song, “We’ll Meet Again.” In English. At that point I felt the tears well up in my eyes and it was as if I was saying goodbye to my sweetheart during WWII and taking care of all those WWI soldiers. I could see it flash before my tear-filled eyes. I could feel this man I said goodbye to so many years and another lifetime ago, standing next to me. But he wasn’t. I knew where he was though – not far away from where I was in Europe.
The grief become uncontrollable as the tears slipped faster and faster down my cheeks. The sun was shining brighter and warmer on us as we stood near the graves and I could hear my soldiers saying to me, ‘Forgive yourself and let us go. It is time for us to let you go too.’ And as the song ended, we all said goodbye until another time and place when, We’ll Meet Again.
Release. Healing. Forgiveness.
After the ceremony, Helen and I spoke to a woman who was 12 years old during the war. She told us a few stories about her life and what it was like to be in a town occupied by the Germans. I wish we would have had all day to listen to her stories as they were sad, distressing, but also fascinating.
Thankfully we had a fantastic lunch after this ceremony and before the second one. I needed a bit of a break from all the energy. The second ceremony was for Jacoba Pulskens, a woman who hid Allied Airmen and later was sent to a concentration camp after the men were executed. The ceremony was short and a few people spoke near the memorial in Tilburg which honors her. Some members of her family attended and spoke.
When the ceremony ended, John took Helen and I to the home where Jacoba lived and then gave us a tour of Tilburg. Our final stop was a beautiful chapel where we sat for a time after lighting candles. Then Helen and I went off in search of coffee and a snack while John attended to other business.
We had a lovely dinner with John and Matt and then made our way to the final ceremony of the day, which honored the Scottish Brigade who helped liberate Tilburg. John was dressed in his St. Sebastian Guild attire because they were to lay flowers at the monument. The ceremony had melodic bagpipe music and many short speeches before children helped the dignitaries lay flowers at the Scottish Monument. It was a beautiful ceremony, again in Dutch, with some wonderful bagpipes to accompany it.
After ceremonies such as these, the Dutch gather together for coffee and cake. We participated after the first and last ceremonies of the day. It gives people a chance to talk and enjoy each other’s company over food and drink, before they return home. It is a nice thing they do and I was able to meet many other people.
Before 9:00 p.m. I was heading back to Ammerzoden and to bed. The next day I would drive to Groesbeek for the day, lecture at night and drive back on Thursday. The past two days had been quite an experience and I was grateful for the healing that I was able to help with and receive. Who knows what the rest of the trip would bring and the question remained, where was this silver ring the universe kept saying I had to find?
In the Netherlands, daylight savings time came a week earlier than in the U.S. This was good because I got an extra hour to roam around Amsterdam. The anxious energy from the morning however, had returned after I got back to my hotel to sleep. It was a long night of strange dreams and wondering if I was going to get up when I was supposed to. I had plans to meet another friend. When I finally woke up in the morning, I was so NOT myself I had to cancel my plans. The energy had shifted to sad, anxious, uncertainty, and a general feeling of unease. The best thing to do was be alone.
After breakfast at the hotel I made my way back to Ammerzoden determined to be alone and deal with the energy swirling everywhere. I met a lot of people from the past the day before, a couple who really touched my heart. One in particular left me with a lot to think about where the future is concerned.
The owner of my B&B had pointed out several places I should try to see in the Netherlands and one of them was on my way back to Ammerzoden. I saw what appeared to look like a castle from the highway and a sign for Zaltbommel. The car kind of pulled itself off the highway and toward village center.
I found a great parking spot behind a castle and near a forest. It was a quiet Sunday morning as I wandered into the center of the village. I found buildings which had stones on them from the 1500 and 1600s. Near one was a café with outdoor seating. The air was crisp, but the sun was shining and a calm breeze was blowing. It was a perfect morning to sit outside and enjoy a bit of tea and light lunch.
After lunch I strolled through the village and found a gorgeous church. It seemed all the original entrances were closed and locked but I heard the most beautiful choir singing as I walked past taking pictures. The building was beautiful as were the buildings surrounding it. I continued my stroll on cobbled streets to the village gates to see the harbor.
As I headed back toward the car I saw a cemetery. I love cemeteries. Most of them have very calming, peaceful energy. Two people were talking at the gate of this one so I chose to not enter but walked the forest path around the cemetery. The sun shined brightly through the trees as colorful leaves and acorns fell around me. I saw the most beautiful ancient tree in the back of the cemetery. The kind of tree you just want to hug. Since I couldn’t go into the cemetery, I found a tall, old tree on the path to lean against, ground myself, and draw power from. I took the most beautiful selfie by that tree as the sun beams swirled around me.
When I felt the energy had grounded enough for me to move on, I headed back to Ammerzoden and took a walk into the village to again light candles in the chapel. Lighting candles was becoming a peaceful routine for me. It gave me extra time to be still and think about the trip, my life, where I had been and where things were headed. And, most importantly, make another wish that I hope someday comes true.
In the evening I stood outside my B&B as the almost full moon rose above the fields. Full moons have power and allow us to let go of things and accept new things into our lives. As I stood under that moon making wishes and declaring intentions and releasing things that no longer served me, old stories surfaced. I ended up going back inside to write a story about a past life and another great love. Maybe it was a sign that someday a great love will show up in this life.
There are days you know will change your life and nothing will ever be the same. You can feel the energy building, passion for what you do rising, and excitement for what the day may bring (and possibly a bit of panic,) reaching a crescendo. I knew this day I was going to meet someone important from a long ago past life. Then, he was Henry and I was Elizabeth. Now I knew we had a connection with war. I already had a good idea of what our souls had agreed to do in this life and felt we had done most of the work. Elizabeth told me bits of their life together in stories I wrote over the summer.
I woke up that morning early with the intention of driving the hour to Amsterdam and having breakfast at the hotel where I was going to stay that evening. As I prepared to leave I was both excited and anxious for the day. I told myself to calm down, it was just another speaking engagement and I have given this talk a bazillion times and it was all going to be fine.
The universe laughed and said,
‘Yes but you know this is not just an ordinary speaking engagement. This is no ordinary day and the people you meet will change your life.’
I was grateful for the hour drive, alone in the dark, to Amsterdam. It gave me time to clear the anxious energy and settle down. I enjoyed a nice breakfast and made my way to the CRASH ’40-’45 Museum where I was to speak later. There I met two people from the past. Henry and a soldier I took care of in another life during a war.
The soldiers I have cared for as a WWI nurse or in other lives, show up all the time. I recognize their energy by their behavior which is always very sweet and kind. Quietly wishing them light and love and releasing them allows both our souls to be at peace. And one thing I learned on this trip is I have carried through thousands of lifetimes, the heavy guilt of not being able to save so many of the soldiers. Sometimes their bodies and sometimes also their souls. Little did I know the healing and release that was about to come for all of us in a most unexpected place.
The energy at the museum that morning was crazy and I’m sure my energy just added to it. While there weren’t a lot of people from the museum there when I arrived, there seemed to be a lot of voices. The bell over the door kept ringing when someone opened it. It felt like too much all at once in a small space. But I kept clearing the energy and breathing deeply and after a few hours and before I spoke, it died down a bit.
I had a wonderful tour of the museum given to me by Ed the museum coordinator. He showed me the main highlights of the collection and told me a lot about the history of the WWII air war in the area. We had a light lunch and then prepared for the program.
Once the program began, the energy died down. The room was ¾ filled with people who wanted to learn more about researching American soldiers. My talk was similar to my program, “The Day That Lived in Infamy” which I give at home. In all my programs I tell stories rather than run down a dry list of facts and figures. Stories capture people’s imaginations. Stories make people THINK and FEEL something. The main difference between my talk in Europe and the one at home is the ending.
At the end of my program in Europe I read the final pages of Michael Kokoska’s story from my book, Stories of the Lost. The end of the story could apply to anyone’s soldier, any war, any time period, because Michael’s father talks about his son coming home after the war. Not walking off the train, but in a flag draped casket. The story allows us to see how connected we are regardless of time and place. It brings to life the very real pain and love this father felt for his son and his sacrifice. And it provides an example of how you can take all the research and put it into something people will remember.
When I was finished reading Michael’s story, many people were crying. Breaths were held and I had to tell the audience to breathe. The impact was made.
The last of my afternoon at the museum was spent meeting people, selling and signing books, and seeing the larger pieces (an airplane!) in the other part of the museum. Then it was off to the hotel to have a bit of quiet time and freshen up so I could spend the evening in Amsterdam!
My evening in Amsterdam was a night I will never forget. As I stood at the bar in an old pub in Amsterdam drinking a Trappist beer, marveling at how incredible my life is, I almost had to pinch myself repeatedly to make sure I was really there. The rest of the night, well let’s just say it was amazing, and I found a lot of crocodiles and peace on my journey through ancient streets and canals.
Some days are just meant to not be shared with anyone. Days where we must just be present and quiet, not running all over among the masses. Calm days to just process the energy and shifts and prepare for the big things coming. Friday, 23 October was such a day. Not once, but now twice, I made the decision not to go into ‘s-Hertogenbosch to the museum and see the city. I slept in that morning and took my time checking email and having breakfast.
During the morning before I left my sweet, cozy B&B, someone contacted me about something and the energy shifted in a negative direction. Every day I was in Europe I had used White Angelica essential oil for protection. I knew I would be in places where battles occurred, blood was shed, and anger, hate, and negativity reigned. I didn’t want all the negativity attaching itself to me. My job was to bring light and love and healing to these areas not increase the darkness. That morning, I had not put it on. The energy took over my hideaway and I had to open the front door and go outside and ground my energy for several minutes and clear the negative away.
It is often surprising when that kind of energy hits me. The more I shift and transform, the more aware of the different energies I become. This day though, I was not expecting it. After I cleared the energy enough to be still again, I took a long walk.
I left my B&B and walked toward the center of Ammerzoden and turned left to go down a street that led to the dike. When I reached the top I walked to my right to see where the winding road would take me. The sun was shining and it was a warm day with a crisp breeze. The trees were beautiful in their colors and the wind gently blew away everything that was no longer needed, including the negativity.
I walked more than an hour and ended up in a town nearby Ammerzoden called Well. There I saw a castle. I had no idea this was there, and it was not open for tourists. It seemed to be well maintained and I wondered what stories it held. Did the ghosts wander the stone stairs in the mists? Were battles fought here? Were the inhabitants happy? I took a lot of photos and then began my walk back toward Ammerzoden.
On my walk I passed a field with horses and people who seemed to be taking lessons. I walked down old forest paths as the wind pushed the acorns and leaves off the trees, giving it a magical feel as I walked beneath the canopy. Eventually I found myself back in town near the church. I stopped in the chapel to light some candles and the energy swelled inside the small room. I said some prayers, did some energy clearing and left. Of course after a long walk, one has to stop at the bakery for something yummy and to do some writing.
I tried the Bosch Bol, this chocolate, whipped cream, decadent dessert. Apparently if you get one in ‘s-Hertogenbosch (Den Bosch,) they are much larger than the one I had in the bakery. The chocolate covered a small puff pastry type ball filled with whipped cream. The chocolate was dark, dense, rich, and while I finished the dessert, a small one was more than I needed. I enjoyed my dessert and coffee while writing. Writing in this bakery was something I was doing almost every other day. It was a peaceful, warm, and welcoming place to be.
Negativity dispelled, the energy crackling for the dinner with the owners of my B&B and my first program in Europe the following day, I walked back to my B&B in peace. Wondering again, who would I meet the next day that would change my life? Sometimes you just know people are going to show up. The question becomes, how are we meant to help each other in this life?
Friday, 22 October, I planned to meet my friend Frank, who teaches history and is a historian and author for the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment (PIR.) The plan was to meet in Overasselt near Arnhem. I was almost over my cold, and the next day I was going to give my first World War II program in Europe. It was a rainy, foggy day when I set out to meet him at 9:00. The only problem was I, I didn’t double check my itinerary (which had changed so often) to see we were actually meeting at 10:00.
I arrived an hour early and after I realized what I had done, Frank suggested I go see the John Thompson Bridge at Grave. I took a drive and didn’t realize I had already driven over it on my way. I stopped at the monument which honors the Airborne. The energy there was so intense as if every Airborne soldier had shown up. My body was vibrating from all the energy. I stood at the monument and cleared a lot of energy before taking another drive to find a cup of hot tea before I met Frank.
Frank and I visited the Nijmegen Bridge and Airborne Monument at that location. He told me a lot of history about what happened in that area during the war. After lunch we went to Oosterbeek to visit the cemetery. I wanted to visit the grave of British soldier Ivor Rowbery, who I had become aware of about a week before I flew to Europe. Ivor wrote a beautiful letter to his mother prior to the Operation Market Garden mission, knowing he was likely to die.
The rain began falling heavily when we arrived at the cemetery. Thankfully we had cover near the front of the cemetery where the Memorial Book is kept. The energy at the cemetery was not as intense as it had been earlier in the day. It was beautiful and peaceful to watch the rain fall over the cemetery with tall, colorful trees lining the edges, and listen to the acorns fall.
When the rain subsided we walked through the cemetery. Frank knows the stories of most of the men buried there. He brought them back to life as we walked. We located Ivor Rowbery’s grave and took a few photos then walked through the cemetery gate and walked along the forest edge to the field where the men had been.
When we exited the field we walked along a magical fairy road, along the city cemetery, as light fog hung in the air. I’m quite sure the fairies hang out in this area and magic abounds. Frank had no idea the cemetery which was laid out across from Oosterbeek, extended that far beyond the main area. After we found a gate to get into the far end of the cemetery, we saw some interesting Russian grave stones. It was quite a walk in a beautiful area.
Our afternoon ended with hot tea and a gigantic piece of apple pie that was impossible to eat in one sitting! Delicious.
As I drove home the energy was crackling. I was soon to meet someone I knew a thousand years ago and give my first talk in Europe. The question was, how would life change in the morning?
I pay attention to my dreams. Often they take me on confusing journeys or I see people I know and then have to figure out what it means. Sometimes the message is very clear, as in a name of a person or place in all caps right in front of me. When disturbing dreams emerge, I really take note of what’s going on.
Still sick with a cold, I slept in again on Wednesday. 12 hours of sleep! The soldiers let me sleep and didn’t start banging around the B&B until after 9:00 a.m. My original plan for the day was to visit Vught Concentration Camp and see a museum in ‘s-Hertogenbosch. Those plans derailed after a dream I had the night before about WWII and my first European speaking engagement. I took the dream to mean I should avoid the camp and city and do something else. Traveling alone does have its benefits. There is no one to complain you totally rearranged your day.
So where did I go instead? A friend recommended Heeswijk castle after seeing photos of Ammersoyan castle. Heeswijk was not far away and it was where the 101st Airborne unexpected landed in September 1944. The castle opened at noon and I thought the website said their restaurant at 11, so I headed in that direction intending to have lunch before the tour.
After arriving at the castle I found the restaurant did not serve food until noon but I was able to have coffee and a cookie while I waited for the tour to begin. The office even gave me a copy of the tour and main points about the castle’s history in English. The tour was in Dutch and I was the only English speaking person in attendance. Armed with my history and a lot to look at in each room of the castle, I was good to go!
I think every soldier who ever fought and died in the area around the castle, and those attached to the castle from centuries prior, showed up that day. The energy rode in pressure waves through my head off and on. I had such a headache when I was finished with the tour.
The castle was built in the 14th century in part. It was added to in the 16th century. No photos were allowed to be taken inside the castle but it was simple and beautiful. Unfortunately much of the original items had been sold off in years prior, but enough was still there to give a visitor an understanding of what the castle had been like in various centuries.
One really cool part of the tour, for the historian in me, was the archive room which we entered through a ‘secret door.’ The room contained historical photos, paintings and the family’s genealogy! I really wish I could have taken photographs in that room!
Walking through the castle, as the energy ebbed and flowed, the soldiers spoke. They reminded me of things of past lives and spoke of things yet to come. When the tour concluded, I made my way to the restaurant where I had a beautiful and delicious salad with greens, goat cheese, and a variety of nuts. Dark wheat bread and some yummy her dressing/butter accompanied the salad. Adding hot tea, I was set. It was very relaxing and I sat there so long enjoying the beautiful lunch that I saw a bride in her wedding dress walk out to go into the castle to be married. I was grateful, as I assume she was, that the grey skies were not crying.
After lunch I drove back toward my B&B and made a stop at the walled village of Heusden. I parked outside the village walls and walked in through the village gate. The entire place was quiet because not many were out this rainy afternoon. I stopped in the visitor’s center to see what maps or history they offered and watched a video about the history of the village and St. Catherine’s Church were on 5 November 1944, there was a fire which killed 134 civilians. The fire was caused by the Germans blowing up the church where the civilians were taking refuge.
I wandered through the village along cobbled streets admiring the old tilted buildings and architecture. It felt as if the medieval version of me was seeking something. I wandered until I felt I had done enough.
Again the universe spoke. I listened and wrote in my journal. Passing by St. Catherine’s, I took some photos and said prayers for the souls who were lost that dark day. Then it was time to depart. I had explored enough of my past for the universe to say, ‘OK you can leave.’
Later that evening I wrote more about my day. A past life me came through and told me about a place I had lived with someone I loved very much in that time of Heusden and in a similar place.
Sometimes the universe and my soldiers have lessons to teach or wisdom to impart. They will go to any lengths necessary to make sure I am paying attention, even if it means the inconvenience of a flat tire and small cold. And that is what happened on 19 October – a flat tire and small cold.
I made it to Ammerzoden in a little over two hours and before it was dark, with no issues with the tire. The B&B owner, Tonja, was there to greet me and show me my home for the next two weeks.
Hedelbed is a sweet little B&B situated near a quiet field by the dike. You do hear birds, insects, the occasional horse, wind rustling through the trees, and the occasional car, but otherwise it is calm and peaceful. A perfect place to stop, think, rest, be still, and write. I had a large room with a bed and living room area, a kitchen, bathroom and if I wanted to bring guests on my next trip, there was a second room with beds off the main entrance.
On this trip I had tried to plan a few days of nothing. This meant I could sleep until I woke up, go where I wanted, eat what I want, or just do nothing. These were not days to meet someone, attend ceremonies, or give a program. Going with the flow for the trip and taking advantage of almost every opportunity meant I had only a couple of days like this left in my three weeks. Until, the universe and soldiers intervened and said, ‘STOP!’
On Monday evening I went to bed and did not set my alarm for an early hour. I did set it with enough time to get ready to go get the tire replaced in ‘s-Hertogenbosch 15 minutes away. I intended to be there by 9:00 but it was closer to 10 and that was fine. The tire was replaced within an hour and a half which was plenty of time to write and just be.
Sitting at the car dealership I realized the best thing for me that day was to go back to my cozy B&B and have lunch and hot tea, a nap, and then think about what to do next. It was NOT to go off to play tourist all over the place. And, I needed groceries for my B&B, so off to the local grocery store I went!
I had a luxurious nap that afternoon and when I woke decided to walk into the village and see what I could find. Tonja had mentioned a bakery in the town center. Bakery usually means something chocolate and yummy, so that’s where I went.
The bakery was off the main road and had more bread and dessert options than a person could eat in a year! I had an Appleflappe (apple turnover) and coffee while I wrote. When I was finished I took a piece of chocolate yumminess with me and went walking. I first went to the church and lit a candle.
Over the course of the trip I lit candles in most churches or chapels I found. I lit them primarily for my soldiers and certain living people I was meeting on the trip or had unfinished business with. By the end of the trip I was even lighting them for myself. We all need help. The chapel was very small but full of love and I sat there a long time thinking. It became a wonderful spot to sit and think over the two weeks I was in Ammerzoden.
When I finished I walked down a road off the main road and stumbled upon Ammersoyen Castle. I knew I was staying within walking distance of one, but had not looked on the map to see exactly where it was. I didn’t go into the castle since I had food with me and it was getting close to closing time, but I did walk around the outside.
Across the road from the castle were the ruins of an old church. What ghosts wander there inside the building and on the grounds? I so desperately wanted to go inside the church but the entire area was fenced off. There was however an open gate and I did walk through and explore the outside of the church from a closer viewpoint.
The entrance to the main church yard was barred and locked. It appeared they open it on special event days only. I was able to take some photographs and conjure stories of what might go on there, especially after dark.
The walk back toward my B&B was peaceful and along the way I noticed another street that looked to lead to the dike. Feeling pretty good, I had to investigate! I found a bench along the narrow road which ran along the dike and sat there a long time. Cars passed. People on horseback rode by. And couples walking their dogs slowly moved past me. The skies were threatening rain but every so often the sun peeked out.
I sat on that bench a long time writing and just breathing in the country air while watching the barges and boats float by. Looking down that narrow, winding road, I knew another day before I left, I would have to return and take a long walk. See where the road led. But for this moment, sitting was the right answer.
Solo travel is good and, I feel, required at certain points in life. While on those journeys, sometimes being forced to stop and realize it is for your own good, can open marvelous new doors and ways of thinking and being.
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