The journey of a lifetime turning into a dramatic lesson of letting go.
Hey you, lovely human!
What does a traveler on a bicycle do for 3 months when there’s really nothing else to do than cycling? Looking for connection, from a place of freedom. And all the time at hand is ‘qualitime’. It’s not always fun, but it’s so much more real life living - consciously. I learned in those three months, with trial and error, to take my time with things. And to make the best of what life has to offer.
Would you like to get some more inspiration about connection & freedom for your life? Check out my social media, maybe you get inspired a bit more.
‘Qualitime’ - what does that even mean? In my head it’s taking time with life, making sure you pause once in a while to take it all in. And actually consciously enjoy those little things that make life worth living.
It’s an easy concept when all you need to do is eat, sleep, cycle - repeat. But each time I got back home to the rush of things, there’s societal expectations and things you feel you need to achieve. And life runs off again.
Anyway, after 3 months on my bicycle, I came home like a whole new person.
Home to a world where I felt this pressure, which I thought was an external pressure for a really long time. Now I know it was just me putting the pressure there, but back then it just felt like that freedom I finally felt just disappeared like snow on a sunny day.
And I told you before and I’m going to tell you again: I just really don’t want to let go of that feeling of freedom.
So no matter how much I loved being physically close to those lovely people around me again (that included Sam already back then - which nobody else including him didn’t really know), I just wanted to leave again. The sooner, the better.
Before my panniers were completely empty, I already had a new adventure planned: New Zealand!
Maybe I could get a job, maybe I could get a van to travel around a bit. The how’s & what’s of that story was still a surprise at that point (I do love a good surprise now and then, not sure if I shared this with you already?), but that country did seem like the perfect place to go on an adventure. Just take those tiny, hairy hobbits from Lord of the Rings as an example, like this meme I gladly use once in a while to share my sense of adventure in everyday life.
Fast forward to January 2019: there I was, on an adventure in New Zealand, with my own van, on the journey of a lifetime in the most beautiful country of the world. Potentially some people don’t agree with me, that’s okay, let me rephrase: the most beautiful country in MY world.
Oddly enough, Sam had decided on a spur of the moment kind of thing to book a flight to New Zealand too, spending his 2,5 week vacation over Christmas and New Year’s living the van life with me.
So that’s how it happened - all was well & happy, ultimate freedom once again.
Sam and I went all over the South Island & North Island on that journey, and every single day we couldn’t fathom how breathtakingly beautiful this planet can be. And we were living in freedom again. Right, I said that before. But that van life we had in Dec/Jan ‘18-’19 was just absolutely amazing, and the perfect way to travel comfortably & adventurously. No worries, traveling by bicycle is still my favorite way of traveling - because you know, ultimate freedom. But choosing between having to find a place to sleep, putting up a tent, and laying your body on a very thin and not that comfortable mattress vs. just parking the van and laying your head one soft pillow and ditto mattress just like that… Easy choice to make, don’t you think?
Do you want to live through the vibes we experienced in that van life period? Put on the Lord of the Rings music, you’ll be there instantly.
Not sure how the saying goes in English, but the Belgian (quite boring and way too humble & pessimistic) way to look at it is: Every fairytale needs to end sometime. And unfortunately that was the case for the van life too. Sam went back home, with the both of us thinking that was pretty much the end of our connection - think again though, as you see where we’re now 2 years later.
I went back to volunteering and enjoying a trip to Rarotonga (imagine the white sand beach & lushy volcano island of your dreams) with my fellow au pair girls and then I would go again - for another adventure through New Zealand - with my van again, but with my favorite Dutchie Anouk. Ultimate freedom, once again.
Not so fast, Elise. Because in a clumsy and too busy - ‘non-qualitime’ - moment Anouk and I ended up in a car accident, and only I was to blame. Fortunately, Anouk and I both came out of it with some annoying but limited ailments, but that van was a total loss.
And that’s exactly how I felt: like a total loss.
There I was, in a foreign country, without family nearby to count on, a big financial loss and literally no roof over my head. My next adventure (and Anouk’s too) and actually my whole world at that time had just collapsed.
At the moment you’re looking and asking and in need for help, it’s there. Because fortunately, there was Anouk and her au pair parents who took her, and at that point me too, in and provided me with care, amazing food and a roof over my head. Those traveling plans seemed very unrealistic at that time, but with some out of the box thinking and some more help from those amazing people, we actually managed to leave for that adventure still,
Physically, the adventure was there. In theory, I had all the freedom again that I wanted and needed. But mentally, I was struggling. The mess in my head was keeping me from actually enjoying the freedom, coziness and happiness - and that way Anouk’s too.
So the time came, again, to make a tough decision. It really was a hard nut to crack, wasn’t it, Anouk? But we got through it.
And then, after because I lost myself & my freedom again for a bit, I took some time to process. And decided to become a Zumba teacher.
How did I get there all of a sudden? In New Zealand, like in 184 countries in the world, Zumba classes are being taught. More or less 10 years ago, I joined my first Zumba class with Katrien and never really completely stopped since then. Every Monday night, along with my mom and my sister - yes, dancing & music is a hereditary thing apparently - we chose to make even the deepest, darkest, coldest Winter nights feel like a sunny Summer day, because of Katrien’s amazing smile & that sunny vibe music.
As we had no internet on that short trip in Rarotonga, Malin (a German au pair I met through Anouk) and I had been dancing some sunny side up Zumba to keep ourselves entertained. And afterwards, back in New Zealand we took a Zumba class together.
During that class, I had a big ‘aha’-erlebnis - thank God for Malin!
In those last months I worked at Nike, I took some sessions with a career coach. During those sessions, some seeds were planted that sharing my enthusiasm for sports and moving around in a fun way, was something I could actually do as a career and even earn my living with.
And that’s exactly what Zumba is, so the seed grew into a nice and beautiful metaphorical plant exactly there in that class. So I decided to become a Zumba teacher, not completely right then & there, no. I went to check out some stuff on prices (financial distress was still there, you know) and training and things, and I planned my next adventure: joining for a Zumba teacher training! Because dancing & music, that’s the only language every person in the world understands.
Connection & freedom in line of sight, once again.
So after 4 months in New Zealand, I came back home (not with a bicycle that time and with quite a big painful whole in my savings account). But I had my next adventure ready in my back pocket once again, so I was happy again.
That adventure: that’s for my next blog post.
Oh, did you think I forgot about the inspirational bit of this post? No way, Jose!
What did I learn in New Zealand.
To let go.
Are you thinking now: “Elise, you went through hell and back, who are you kidding? Did you only learn that?” Hmm, maybe not, probably a lot more.
But letting go means so much more than just the words written here.
Because, letting go is creating freedom for you and just you.
Letting go if finding peace & happiness, not from something outside of you (like a van or a person or a vacation or the next promotion). It’s releasing yourself from what’s around you, and choosing to find peace & contentment in the moment, knowing that gratitude is always there within you and it can grow bigger each time you choose to experience it. For better or for worse.
The inspirational question of today: What are you linking your happiness to today?
As in: “I will find peace/happiness/joy, if… (fill in the dots)” What is exactly the need you’re trying to fill in with whatever you filled in on the dots? Being aware of that need is the first step, now try to find it somewhere else instead of that particular thing. Find it right here, in your day, within you.
Whether you believe me or not, every single need you have, you can fill in right there from within your heart and soul.
I’m not just saying this, I’m living this every single day.
You have no idea why and how to let go? Because maybe you’ve become really good at keeping control?
Let me know, because that’s one of the ways I try to guide you to your path.
If you want to book your first free contact session, just send me a message through email, WhatsApp or Instagram. And we’ll have a look together if I can coach you to whatever you need to live a happy & fulfilling life.
And let me know whatever this story brings you, because that’s why I keep writing them down.