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
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.
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!
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.
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.
Maastricht is an old city full 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.
The 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.
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.
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.
Did you catch Part 1 of my day in Luxembourg on 15 October? If not, you should read that first so the rest of the day and the Sauer River crossing makes sense.
As I write this post I have to tell you, the guys buried in Luxembourg are planning something else for me. I had not intended to go visit them again in May but it seems I will. A new soldier, who I am fairly certain I must have walked past at the cemetery when I visited other graves near his, has taken up residence in my house. Pvt. Charles P. Becker, KIA 10 January 1945 (a day before my James) and who was part of F Company 328th Infantry Regiment 26th Infantry Division. I’m currently waiting to receive his IDPF and Morning Reports. If I’m lucky, his OMPF also. You’ll have to come back to my blog late May to see how that turns out!
Now, back to our Journey to the Sauer River Crossing sites and the death of Paul Gurgone. Sometimes the dead return to help provide answers or closure to someone they loved. I believe Paul showed up to help bring closure to some members of his family who always wondered if it was really him who was repatriated after the war. Through the research into his death and the documentation that showed how he was identified, he and I were able to do that. Paul was also about to bring his experience and that of men who attempted the river crossing, to me so I could on some level, experience it and then write about it.
It is one thing to read about WWII and battles. Another thing to do in-depth research into the lives of these men and their deaths. It is a complete other thing to go stand where they fought and died and attempt to absorb it. The Sauer River Crossing sites were mind boggling. If you read the histories, you’ll learn that after the harsh, terrible, frozen winter the men experienced, the snows in the mountains began to thaw quickly due to an early warm-up.
As the snows melted in the mountains, the water flowed into the streams and rivers and caused flooding. In Luxembourg where the men were stationed, the meadows were melting and turning into swampy mudpits. The Sauer River rose and flooded the surrounding areas. Rivers were wider, deeper, and had a fast flow. That’s what we read.
As I stood in various locations at the crossing sites, looking at them from high above on a ridge, from a meadow, or a bridge over the river, I still had trouble wrapping my mind around just HOW wide, deep, and fast the river was flowing. I took my journal with me everywhere on this trip and I had to sketch out what the area between ridges would have resembled during the crossings. The photos I took do not capture this as well as I’d like. You really must stand there and experience it.
The photos here show Tom and I looking out over the ridge to the river. He’s explaining what the men were doing. We were standing on the American side. Across from us, Tom pointed out areas where the Germans had their guns placed. You could feel the energy of the soldiers there, on both sides, waiting. Some asked for forgiveness, some just wanted to go home in peace. They still roam those hills.
Now, to get to the river, the men had to move boats down from the top of the ridge where they were stationed in meadows near farm houses. The roads were steep and I couldn’t believe it when we drove down one and then made it back up. How did our troops manage this in inches deep mud when I was honestly a little concerned that we were driving on slightly wet leaves and a solid ground?! Once they managed to get to the meadow below, there was little to no cover. They had to make it to the river, which had flooded its banks and made them even more exposed to the well-aimed German guns. Few made it across. Many died. Some were never recovered. Some floated so far they ended up in other rivers far from where they actually died.
This brings up a good point when we talk about research. We should never take the word of one record to tell a story. The IDPF may say a soldier was found (probably KIA) near one area, when he actually died in another. Always look for other sources and check the histories.
Later I stood at another crossing site, first on the meadow then the bridge. I walked across into Germany to look at a pillbox. When you look at these photos, imagine the river flowing over the bank to the footpath. What is difficult to see here is the steep slope from the path to the river. The view from here was wide, deep and fast in 1945. Again, the men were exposed and fought under incredible odds.
Tom and Doug took me to several other places that day, but the cemetery and river crossing sites were the most impactful. The soldiers gave me a new perspective on their stories. One I am supposed to share with the world. Their stories are not just about one document or photograph, but a collection of sources and perspectives. Often we view war or conflict from only one angle. In reality, we should view it from all sides so we have a complete picture. Then we have more information which allows us to heal ourselves, them, and the world. Tell the stories of your soldiers, but consider all sides when you do.
Next to this river crossing was a monument to the 5th Division. We are forever grateful for your sacrifices.
Our day ended with coffee and more talk about the history of various divisions and the battles fought. I hope to meet up with Doug and Tom again in 2016 to hear more of their stories. Only this time I’ll bring my digital recorder and video camera so we can all experience a little bit of what happened.
I returned to Hotel Melba in Bastogne, enjoyed a beer before dinner, and wrote my thoughts about the day. The day was incredible and the lessons provided were true blessings.
I have been guided throughout my life and especially the last several years by invisible beings. Angels, soldiers, sailors, Marines, airmen, Ascended Masters, God, Pleiadians, and others. They have walked with me through the good times and the bad.
The stories from my second trip to Europe, a trip I took alone, illustrate how things and people and help shows up exactly when we need it. It also demonstrates how we can heal through travel and going deep within. Perhaps the biggest lesson I learned from this trip at that time in my life was, I REALLY COULD DO ANYTHING!
October 2015 Healing Trip to europe
April 13, 2015 I made my first trip to Europe. Three weeks, six countries, and I saw five minutes of a lot of things. It was the most incredible trip I had ever taken. An experience for which I will be forever grateful. Changed my life, my perspective, and my work. That trip also took me on a spiritual journey unlike any other and opened my heart and soul up more than it had been. The soldiers who were already communicating with me, were now doing so at a higher level. It was a little crazy, unnerving at times, and amazingly cool. The writing I did during and after that trip allowed me to heal things within myself but also others through my books and programs.
Before I left Amsterdam on 6 May, the universe already had plans to bring me back in October. Having never traveled solo overseas, this idea was both scary and exciting. A good friend had been telling me for a year to travel alone, but it wasn’t time yet. I wasn’t ready until October 2015. Too many other things had to be let go of and healed or written before I could go.
On 13 October 2015, I boarded a plane in Chicago and flew back to Amsterdam, alone. Sitting on the plane, I knew the next three weeks would change my life in unexpected ways, bringing blessings, sadness, joy, inspiration, incredible experiences, relaxation, new opportunities, many new friends, an opportunity for balance, and the opportunity to release things which no longer served me. The trip also provided another major spiritual shift in my life. I invite you to travel with me in my soldier’s footsteps.
13-14 October 2015
Planning a European trip has its challenges from booking the flight, car rental, places to stay, and what you want to do. Add a layer of lecturing four times and another layer of scheduling time to meet a lot of Facebook friends who do WWII research, while I was there. I went with the flow, which a year ago I would not have done. My schedule changed daily the last two weeks before I departed, often between 3 and 4 a.m. as my friends in Europe would message me to confirm or arrange something. I even finalized details of my final speaking engagement right before I boarded the plane! While some people (and the me a year ago) might not have done well with this ‘go with the flow’ attitude, it absolutely worked for me.
I departed Chicago after 6 p.m. and arrived in Amsterdam by 9:30 a.m. their time (2:30 a.m. our time.) Made my way through customs and headed across the city-like Schiphol Airport to the car rental area. It all went smoothly. Soon I was on my way to my first destination, about 3.5 hours away, BASTOGNE!
As I drove south though the Netherlands into Belgium, it snowed! Not much, just enough to cover the trees and look beautiful and magical. Driving after being up, technically at 2:30 a.m. is not so fun, but there are nice gas/restaurant station areas along the highway in the Netherlands. These are excellent places to stop for coffee and a yummy lunch. Stopping half-way to Bastogne as the snow fell was a good idea. I counted my many blessings over that lunch and pinched myself a lot because I couldn’t believe I was actually in Europe by myself!
When I arrived in Bastogne, I checked into the Hotel Melba. This is where everyone said to stay. I’m glad I listened to their advice. The staff was wonderful and helpful, room was comfortable, with a view from the back of old homes and a field with donkeys. They could be heard at all times of the day.
I spent part of two days in Bastogne in May, so had an idea of where things were. Since it was late afternoon, to stay awake, I took a walk down to the tank and main street. First stop, with my journal in hand, was the Boulangerie Courtois for a coffee and piece of something decadent. I stayed in the bakery about an hour, again counting my blessings and pinching myself, while writing and enjoying my dessert.
When the dessert was gone I walked back to the hotel by way of the 101st Airborne Museum – Le Mess – probably my favorite place in Bastogne. I did not go inside because they had just closed. My visit was planned for Friday. Instead, I returned to my room to catch up on email and prepare for the next day when I would meet Tom Scholtes and Doug Mitchell and see the Sauer River Crossing sites and visit my cousin James Privoznik in Luxembourg Cemetery.
Hotel Melba has a restaurant and I went down before dinner to enjoy a Jupiler beer at the bar while listening to a conversation by an American family. Dinner was a fantastic steak with loads of vegetables. I enjoyed it immensely while again, listening to the conversations of those around me. The American family was seated at the table next to me and I heard about their visit to areas around Bastogne. Now, I used to be quiet and not interrupt total strangers conversations, but we all grow and change.
I heard the son say they would skip the museum in Bastogne the next day and at that point I had to interrupt and ask, which museum. He replied Le Mess. At that point I inserted myself into the conversation and told them they absolutely could not miss Le mess. That led to a longer conversation about why we were both in Europe, what I did for work, and them assuring me they would visit the museum. At that point, I finished my coffee and went upstairs to bed.
The son and I are now Facebook friends and we followed the others trips and had interesting conversations. You never know who you will meet when you travel. Or how it will change your plans and experiences.
At the end of my first very long travel day I was completely content. Look what I had done! Traveling solo! Who knew what the rest of the three weeks would bring. I was sure as I drifted to sleep, thanking the Gods and Angels for the amazing day, the trip would change my life and in some way, the lives of all those I would meet or encounter, including my army of soldiers, sailors, and Marines, who are always with me.
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