After writing my blog post about Control vs. Letting Go, I started to realize how much need for control I really felt in my life. In the past years I’ve come to let go a whole lot of insecurity and beliefs that made me feel small and ugly. With that release, bit by bit I loosened my need to control other things in my life like what I thought I should do and how I should behave. I could start identifying what I really wanted in my life. I let go of the projected path I created for myself where I would have a fancy high heeled job at some ministry, and decided that a job where I wasn’t allowed to wear my muddy hiking boots was simply not my type of job. I let go of the control of having a neat and tidy home, furnished smoothly in colors matching the kids’ clothes and accepted that we actually live in our house, creating a mess quicker than I can vacuum one floor (and we have three floors…).
I thought I let go of a heck of a lot of things… and came to realize that I held on to control over much more than I ever thought I did.
There are two control methods I believe are most effective: controlling my own actions and controlling the actions off the people I love. Controlling myself usually means that I have an endless to-do list with things I tell myself are important… or at least, they keep me busy and create a welcome excuse from connecting with myself. They are the perfect excuse for not thinking about who I am and what I want. Because who cares about a life purpose when the laundry needs to be washed, dinner needs to be prepared and the garden is a mess?
Controlling other people’s actions are a great tool for not feeling to guilty about not being as happy as you can be. When I keep pushing myself doing stuff I don’t really want to do, and my boyfriend is enjoying a cup of tea while reading an interesting book, why would I grant him this moment? Doesn’t he see how busy I am? Can’t he be proactive and help me without me having to ask him for help? So I create a to-do list for him, urging him to get up and stress and do stuff neither him nor I really want to do.
I thought about all of this and realized how often I felt the need to have control over the situation that is created by my own and others’ lives.
I decided to only ask S. questions that weren’t coming from a need of control. I love to hear him out about the people he contacts, what he’s been doing in his study etc. I decided only to ask him something when I was totally sure it was from being interested in his life and not from a need for control. And I became very quiet. It shocked me. It surprised me. Was I still that insecure?
Then I decided to stop trying to control my own actions. For some days I would ask myself each moment what I wanted to do most at that specific time. There were some appointments and obligations (however, you could wonder what an ‘obligation’ really is), but besides those, I would only do what I really wanted to do.
Something magical happened. My never-ending-ever-increasing to-do list disappeared immediately. I didn’t feel the heavy load of unfinished business on my shoulders. It was gone… I felt light and free and very happy.
I decided to take some extended me-time and go for a mini-sabbatical. I wanted to cycle through The Netherlands and visit amazing people. I took a map, created a rough idea about where to go and contacted friends. Without exception they loved my idea about meet them or staying with them. What a rich feeling to be welcome in so many places!
Day 1: Another to-do list
Waddinxveen – Bennekom (100 km)
Being on my own for many hours, the perfect moment to think life over. So many things happened over the last year, it would be great to reflect on them. But as I was cycling, my mind just didn’t stick to the topics I mentally listed. Great, I decide to let go of everything and just let this trip happen. But what really happened is that it took me about 70 km to realize I simply created another to-do list, even though this one was only in my brain and about stuff I wanted to let go off… oh, the trickery!
I realized that I cannot control my thinking processes. I can only accept the thoughts that come up, and decide whether or not to focus on them. Topics that don’t linger are apparently not in need for a lot of processing. Perhaps my subconscious already dealt with them, or maybe the beliefs I’ve created make me think I should pay attention to certain topics, but my intuition has different priorities…
This was the longest distance I ever covered by bike in one day. When I arrived at my destination I felt very proud. The next second I felt very proud of myself being able to be proud of myself J I was welcomed by one of my dear soul-sisters and her lovely family. They are such an example of accepting life and letting go of the expectations of society, creating a blossoming little paradise they call home, with flowers, drawings and happiness in every corner.
Day 2: Synchronicities
Bennekom – Wageningen (5 km)
For my second day I planned on cycling only a little bit, taking my time to visit Wageningen. I’ve lived in Wageningen for years when I studied there. It still feels like home there. Right in between the higher forested areas and the flood plains of the river Rhine, Wageningen is a cozy little town inhabited by the most diverse population you can imagine. Students from all corners of the world, farmers, researchers, hippies… you can find them all in one street. I planned on walking in the arboretum, having coffee, reading my book and just taking my time.
Before I entered Wageningen it started to rain, and I decided that it wouldn’t benefit me if my stuff got wet. So I stopped at the nearest big tree intending for the rain to pass by. I sat down under the tree and just enjoyed the moment. I saw a girl coming closer on a bike, accompanied by her dog. When she came closer I recognized her as a great friend I hadn’t seen for a while. She didn’t live in Wageningen anymore, but appeared to have visited her horse and was just on her way somewhere else. Very happily surprised we catched up on each other’s lives. Some minutes later someone else approached on a bike from the other direction. I recognized him immediately as a guy I met several times and I’ve always felt very connected with, although we never really got to know each other. His brakes squeaking, he smiles and stops, puts his bike aside and sits next to me, giving me a hug. The other friend needs to leave unfortunately, but this friend is not in a hurry. We end up sitting under that tree for several hours, talking and talking and talking. We find out that we are dealing with the exact same topics in our lives lately and find a lot of support sharing experiences. I realized that I can be 100% open about who I am and what my life is like, which allows people to be just as open towards me and to themselves. I enjoyed every second of our conversation.
I told my friend that the friend I stayed with for the night invited me for a party that evening. This friend appeared to be at that very same party, as a member of the band. I didn’t even know there was a band coming, but apparently my favorite band from Wageningen was performing at this international party on a boat in the river…
I took two amazing friends I met while studying in Wageningen and did a lot of traveling with for dinner at our all-time-fav restaurant (nostalgia), after which we found this boat and danced on Balkan beats under the stars for hours… (they even played Bubamare! Happy, happy me!)
Day 3: An open heart
Wageningen – Linden (50 km)
The third day consisted of two parts. First I went to Nijmegen to meet someone I never met before. We contacted over internet and I felt really attracted to this bright and beautiful young woman who was so clear about life and honest towards herself and others. I felt a little shy and very excited. Oh my gosh, the address appears to be a huge monastery in the middle of the city. Oh my gosh even more, she appears to be so pretty and joyful! The shy part of me is still so surprised when someone I really like, equally likes me back! I’m so thankful for being able to open my heart for new people right away, and feel really comfortable talking about sensitive topics from the very start. I’m not even sure what kind of job she has, but we shared many fears, loves and intimate topics. I could feel both our heart chakras opening up and connecting in a beautiful way. When I left I felt like a clumsy teenager, trying to put my bags on my bike. It was almost tough to leave… I felt like I wanted to cling to that wonderful, energetic atmosphere. But I also felt I shouldn’t cling to anybody or any moment from a space of neediness. It’s all in me… all the way to my next destination, I felt my heart tingling. I sang mantras while cycling without my shoes, until my pedals hurt my feet so bad I needed to put my shoes back on.
An hour later I arrived at a party with another soul-sister, a friend and two new friends. This was a very intimate, calm and warm party. A totally different atmosphere. On my way here there were a few moments where I wasn’t sure I wanted to exchange the energetic atmosphere for something more calm. But this was my path, so I better not resist and enjoy it. And I did. We had dinner at the side of a lake and talked until the stars appeared and almost disappeared again. At breakfast we started talking again and shared our past, our bonds with our families and how these formed us to the people we are now. My soul-sister and I had a healing session with her horses. It’s nice communicating with a horse. It only works for me when I open my heart and don’t stick to any outcome. When I really want to hear the horse, I block al communication and can’t hear anything. When I have no expectations and just stand there and then, being present in the moment, grounded firmly… than I can talk with the horses and help their close human protectors to understand them even better.
Day 4: Facing fear
Linden – Schaarsbergen (70 km)
The fourth day brought me to Germany. I felt a little tensed. The trip wasn’t easy today. Although the larger part of The Netherlands is flat and easy cyclable, there are definitely hills. It was warm. The signs indicating where I was and where I was heading were hard to find. This night there wouldn’t be anybody waiting for me, since I decided to sleep in the forest. I felt a bit lonely. But then I realized that this was my decision. If I wanted there were plenty of people I could phone and ask for a place to stay somewhere on the route, but I wanted to be alone tonight. Partly to prove I was brave enough to sleep alone in a forest with wild animals and, way more scary to me, foresters that don’t like people to be in their forest after sunset. And partly, more important, I wanted to do this because I never slept in the forest on my own, and I looked forward to watching the sun set and rise, breathing fresh air and listening to the birds.
I found myself a nice spot hidden behind some hills covered in blueberry shrubs (with the berries very ripe and delicious, yay!). No tent, just my sleeping bag. It was an interesting night. I was approached by wild boars (who were pretty impressed by me coughing and keeping their distance). A barking roe deer sounded much more impressive than what it would have looked like at day light. And this one was pretty persistent and circled me for a long time in the dark. I was a little scared, but mainly by the thought that a forester might find me. Some planes came over and each time I thought it was a car… but it wasn’t. The animals wouldn’t harm me. After a while I relaxed. The sound of some deer browsing shrubs nearby wasn’t frightening anymore, but actually soothing. I fell asleep and woke up at six o’clock, exactly the time I decided I’d like to wake up.
Day 5: Going with the flow
Schaarsbergen – Nijkerk (50 km)
The plan was to go to Nijkerk and meet with a friend there. But he texted me the evening before if I would mind coming to another place and meeting him there. In the past I would have been annoyed a bit at least, because I would have to cycle quite a bit further, changing my plans and being flexible. But not this time. I decided that this would be fine and I’d see what this new plan would bring me. My friend sent me some more messages, each time the plans changed a bit. My state of mind didn’t change. Whatever the plan would be or become, I would have a good time. If he wanted to spend some hours behind a computer, I’d find myself a park and rest or read. If we would go right away, that would be fine too.
I collected some hands full of blueberries and created myself an amazing breakfast with muesli and soymilk. Looking at the sun rising and the world preparing for a new day, I felt my heart being open, warm and light. There was nothing to be afraid of. No change of plans could bring my mood down. This would be another great day in this beautiful journey and I was going to enjoy it the best I could.
When I drove off I felt like cycling at a nice pace, feeling very energetic. But after a few hundred meters I was cut off by a large herd of cattle. These semi-wild animals are grazing the nature areas, in order to keep the open parts open. This breed, Heck cattle, can be a bit aggressive. Or at least they aren’t shy. So I decided to just enjoy the view and keep a little distance. About 30 animals including some quite big bulls passed me by. The calves were playing. I watched the social dynamics. The leading cow in front, deciding where the herd was going and in what speed. The alpha-bull somewhere in the middle, and the youngsters in the back. They moved to a field a little down the way. What an amazing sight, these enormous animals living this free…
I found my friend in the city center. After checking the options and changing the plans another couple of times, we went to his place. About 15 kilometers from this city. I had my bike, he didn’t have his… but decided to run on bare feet. That was another amazing experience. Cycling next to some who’s running without shoes on a hot, sunny day, having conversations about how to change the world along the way.
Day 6: Home is where my heart is
Nijkerk – Waddinxveen (85 km)
My friend had to pick up his daughter in a place that I would pass on my way back, a place where I wanted to visit a friend and pick up some books, and I also wanted to introduce both friends to each other because they shared some common passions (like barefoot running)…
It was very nice to cycle together, talking more about how to change the world into a more loving, accepting and wonderful place. After a break at the place of this other friend, I continued the last part of my trip on my own. I realized how wonderful it is to feel so welcome and so loved at so many places. All these dear friends are so different, and yet so similar. We shared moments of acceptance, sharing our passion, energy, time, love…
I felt proud at myself for allowing myself to take this time for myself. For accepting my need for adventure, action and traveling. I felt proud at my body, for after three pregnancies and a lot of physical challenges I could cycle all this way and still have the energy to walk and dance too. I felt proud for being able to open my heart, for letting go of fear, expectations and resistance. I felt proud of feeling the joy of just being in the moment, accepting all the emotions present. To even welcome these emotions and feelings.
Total: 360 km, 0 flat tires, 3 new friends,6 ferries and countless moments of joy.