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 2 Part 1 – (15 October 2015)
© 2020 Ancestral Souls
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.
© 2020 Ancestral Souls
Today my friend Peter was going to pick me up and show me some sites in the area which were to include a castle and the Air War Monument he had created. I love castles!
Our first stop was Lovestein Castle where we walked the grounds and took a tour inside. The castle did not have many items inside, so guided tours were not required. You simply used the key you received in the ticket office to enter. In the lower level of the castle they had a couple of racks of clothing you could wear as you toured the castle. We opted to stay in our 2015 clothes.
British Airmen used the castle during World War II and Peter had a photo of them exiting the grounds. He merged it together with one of me standing in the same area.
After the castle we drove to Gorinchem to have lunch in a building that was used by the Germans during the war. Gorinchem was another medieval village and there were old buildings, cobble streets, and a harbor. It was beautiful. Quite peaceful.
Peter showed me the Air War Memorial he had erected to honor Allied airmen killed during the war in the Netherlands. It was incredible. Tall, strong, full of energy for the American and British airmen who were killed in the war.
On our way to the Memorial we drove past a Creepy Cool Antique store! It screamed out, ‘VISIT ME!’ Ok, maybe the store didn’t scream that out but the gargoyles out front did. Either way – the place had some fantastic energy!
So of course after we visited the Memorial, we stopped. Peter had known if I did not find the mysterious silver ring prior to Saturday, that a stop at an antique store was going to be greatly appreciated. I had the ring, now we had to explore to see why the store was calling me.
Peter had shopped there before for items for his home. This place had everything you could possibly want and a lot more the owners had never had time to inventory and put out for sale. I wandered around the store to see what called to me. I found some beautiful china tea cups I would have loved to own, but they would have been destroyed in my suitcase on the way home.
There were old medieval looking doors and chandeliers for candles. Old pots that looked like they belong to a witch that I also would have loved to bring home. A mirror that invited me to climb into it, but I did not. There was not enough time to go exploring another universe or wherever it was going to take me.
I found old books, photographs of unnamed individuals, postcards, clothing, furniture, and items for the home like door knobs, fixtures, lights,art, Jesus, doors, pipe, iron decorations for outside the home, and so much more. I think on my next trip to Europe I will spend some time wandering antique stores just to see what’s there. It was really cool.
The Creepy Cool Antique store was our last stop of the day before Peter returned me to my B&B. After an excellent sunny day, I enjoyed a great dinner and beer at the bistro in the village before retiring early. Tomorrow I would meet the Friends of the Timberwolves and hopefully, if the weather cooperated, take a ride in a WWII Jeep!
© 2020 Ancestral Souls
There are days you wish you could just stay in bed and hide under the covers all day. Never leave. This was one of those days. I’m a positive person and try to be cheerful but I’m human and some days, I’m really not fun to be around. This day I would have been happy staying in my cozy B&B all da. That evening I was supposed to drive to Goree-Overflakkee to give my final talk of the trip. Only the energy was such I didn’t want to. I felt “off.” Strange.
I’m sure it had something to do with the crazy dreams and sleep the night before and the fact I woke up to see a dead guy floating next to me after 1:00 a.m. after I heard the name JOHN. Yep folks – he was there, very peacefully floating and waiting. I’m fairly certain he was once one of my soldiers. I just watched him and after a little while he disappeared. And then I got up and wrote in my journal describing this man I had just seen. Usually I don’t see them.
So…….who was John?
I did eventually get out of bed and try to ground my energy. I went for a short drive to Fort St. Andries in Rossum, Netherlands to see what was there. It was a bit difficult to find even with my GPS but it was a lovely drive. I didn’t spend too much time there, but it was enough to feel less “off.” My afternoon was quiet and then I drove toward Goree-Overflakkee.
Now, my energy was still a bit “off” and crabby when I left. I set the GPS for fastest route and it thought taking a ferry was the fastest route. What?! I knew I had to get onto the island or Goree-Overflakkee but Dennis, who scheduled me to speak never mentioned a ferry! After a frantic text to Dennis, I realized that the ferry was near Heusden. That route was an option I had when I visited Heusden but since there was a bridge right there, I took the bridge. Changing the GPS to scenic route allowed it to think the ferry was not an option and on I went.
The drive should have been less than an hour and a half. It never….ever….seemed to want to end. Note to self for the future: When you set the GPS to scenic route to avoid the ferry 10 minutes from your start point, remember to change it back to fastest route. Why? Because scenic takes you on and off highways to drive the beautiful back roads, which add a million minutes to your drive. Once I realized what I had (not) done, I switched the GPS and was on my way.
I was almost on the island and got into the off ramp at the bridge to take me onto said island and it was stopped. No one was moving. 10 minutes, then 15. I was hungry. It was getting dark and I had to speak in a couple hours. Another frantic text off to Dennis and I discovered there was an accident. A couple miles up the road should be clear –if I could only get there.
Trusting the GPS had to know another way onto the island, I left the off-ramp and continued on this bridge about 5 km only to find that no, that was the only way on the island. I turned around and stopped at a gas station for a few minutes to gather my thoughts and breathe. I also texted my friend Mary and expressed my frustration. She said someone would attend the talk who needed me to show up. It seems when our energetic vibrations are raised, we are able to help others, often when we don’t even realize it. She said someone would thank me for being there that night. When I got back on the highway, the traffic was moving in both directions.
Needless to say by the time I hit Middleharnis I was frazzled. I asked the universe for a safe parking spot near somewhere I could have dinner. I had about an hour and a half before I needed to be at the school to set up. I got the parking spot right behind a French restaurant.
I’m very grateful to the angel waitress who could tell I was frazzled and spoke enough English to help me decide tea was better than a beer (which I really wanted at that point) and recommended something delicious for dinner. After I ordered I let Dennis know where I was. He knew I was frustrated and laughed because I had no idea where I was in relation to the school. Turns out I was 100 meters away. He said he’d come to the restaurant and say hello and tell me where to walk when I was finished.
Dinner was yummy, the tea was hot, and I was relaxed at the end of the meal. I walked to the school and met many people who had gathered for drinks prior to the program. A reporter had shown up to listen and I had a short interview prior to the talk. The energy was cheerful which helped reinforce the relaxed energy I was feeling. I was grateful.
I gave the program and talked about how to research WWII American soldier service. After I was finished, Dennis spoke about the air war on the island and some of his research. He had many photos of airmen and told us the story of a man who went down in a plane, only to have been later seen by someone who knew him from home, while he was wandering England. The man’s name was Jack.
And then the energy shifted and got all giddy and I almost laughed out loud because JACK is often a nickname for JOHN. The dead guy in my bed the night before, I was certain was this JACK. I asked Dennis if Jack was a nickname and he said he didn’t know. The reports only showed Jack. But the energy said otherwise.
When the program was over, several people stopped to talk to me and one in particular told me a story and then thanked me for being there. He reinforced that sometimes we are supposed to show up because someone needs us. I’m glad he and I both showed up that evening.
After hot tea with some of the attendees and conversation it was time to drive back to Ammerzoden. Dennis walked me back to my car and I told him about John and seeing him when I woke up the night before. He understood.
Was John the Jack, in the story Dennis told? We will never know for sure, but I think it was. And I’m grateful I got to meet him. Sometimes all the soldiers need is for someone to acknowledge them, to see them before they can move on peacefully.
Isn’t that all any of us really want – someone to really SEE us?
© 2020 Ancestral Souls
There were many instances on this trip I wished someone was following me with a camera or that I had a driver so I could shoot photographs as the car rolled along country roads. The morning of 29 October was one of these instances as I left the hotel after a beautiful walk in the woods where the trees danced with joy, to make my way back to Ammerzoden. Today, I was determined to find this silver ring.
The drive took me over rolling hills as the sun shone brightly amidst the trees of red, orange, and gold. As I drove down a hill toward a piece of road covered over with a cathedral-like canopy, it felt like today, 29 October, was a very important day in one of my past lives. A day on which I married someone I loved very much. The energy was sweet and intense and I knew today I would find my ring.
My car drove itself to ‘s-Hertogenbosch about 15 minutes from my B&B in Ammerzoden. I asked a friend the day before if he knew of any antique stores in the city and I had an address. When I arrived in the city, I only had a couple hours to spend there because I had to be on a Skype call that afternoon. Parking was easily found and I took a walk into the center of the city. I found a café and had some hot tea before going off in search of this jewelry store.
Only it really wasn’t an antique store and didn’t look like it would have what I was seeking. I kept moving through the city streets and came across another jewelry store. Browsing the items in the window I spotted it. An amethyst ring with tiny diamonds. White gold so it looks silver. I tried it on and it fit. Without even thinking about it, I bought it. The energy swirled and the universe sang with joy. The ring links me to someone from the past and also someone in the future. It feels like something I received lifetimes ago, but this version is much simpler and smaller. Perfect.
With only five days left in Europe, I had finally found the ring. Secure in the knowledge I had done almost everything I was supposed to on this trip, I made my way toward the Sint Jan Cathedral to spend some time with the spirits and light some candles.
The Cathedral was incredible. Statues of Saints lined every aisle. Beautiful art hung on the walls and were contained in the stained glass windows. There was a peace in the cathedral I had not found elsewhere. Some areas of the cathedral were very cold, as if people from beyond had congregated in those spots. This is one place I must return to on my next trip because in one visit you cannot possibly take in everything there is to see there.
The rest of my day was spent with my colleague John Boeren as we did an In-Depth Genealogist IDG Chit-Chat session with Shannon Combs-Bennett. You can watch that here. Afterward we walked to the bakery in the village for something yummy with our tea and coffee and had a long conversation about life and work. My evening was quiet and perfect. I again counted my blessings as I later drifted to sleep. Tomorrow would be the day I gave my final program in the Netherlands.
© 2020 Ancestral Souls
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 Rense Havinga, the curator 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………
© 2020 Ancestral Souls
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?
© 2020 Ancestral Souls