The secret to good planning

Plan with a pencil FB

How we didn’t travel to England and what happened instead

Our plans change all the time. “Write your plans with a pencil” is a family motto. We all know it. It is just how life is. Things change, and we have to adjust. We are used to it. Yet this story begins with a harder change of plans that did rock our boat a bit, one that reminded us of all of the wonderful dynamics between our plans and the laws of the universe.

We had planned to spend half of the summer in England, and we were all looking forward to it when we were not allowed into the country. This was a massive rock on the path, one we had not seen coming.

What surprised us was not the bureaucratic problem but the fact that nobody was open to conversation, nobody was trying to help us, it was all rules, and I heard the stupid word “impossible” many times. Some people do not believe in Santa Claus. I do not believe in the “impossible.”

I still don’t. 

I believe in other things, structures, and other versions of what is real and how to find my way through life. Rules and laws are no guidelines to me. Obstacles do not make things impossible. Most things are possible. But sometimes, they are not worth it.
Let me explain with this story of how we did not travel to England for the summer.

In Calais, I spoke to many people about a minor bureaucratic problem we had, and it was a true Kafka story. The problem and its consequences grew as I talked to one, two, and three people about it. In my not-so-fluent french!

At the same time, the heat was overwhelming, I was exhausted already, and at lunchtime, we decided to leave this world of laws and papers and stamps and stupidity to return to our version of reality.

In my world

In my reality, everything is energy, everything vibrates, and true guidance is always available from the purest of all sources. It takes true inner peace, the patience to listen, and the humility to obey.
It is not simple to acquire all three. It is a lifelong journey. It is a bit like sit-ups - to have strong muscles, we need to do them every day. The same holds true for our inner peace: We must continuously work on it. There is no endstation; there is only the journey.

On this path, we have short sayings we hold on to - just like the “plan with a pencil” I shared, to begin with. Two other good ones are the following:

“What if it was easy?” And “If it feels wrong, it is wrong.”

What if it was easy?

It is a common problem, the misbelief, that life has to be complicated. That we have to work hard and push through all kinds of obstacles to get to where we want to go. To receive what we want to have. I think this is true for an ego-based life, where your ideas and goals and the success in achieving these work as your life points.

But if we base our life on our eternal souls, feeling our way through, letting the academic mind and the strong ego be servants of the intuitive mind and the powerful spirit, then life is much easier. We do not attach our value, success, or happiness to the outcome of our ideas.

Instead, we use planning as just a starter, a way to start the process. A process. At the same time, we always listen to the signs around us and inside us: Emotions work as a good compass.

It can look hard, like a lot of work and sacrifice, but from the inside of a soul-based life, it does not feel burdensome.

So, when something feels hard, we ask ourselves: How would this situation be if it was easy?

In Calais this summer, it was simple: It would be easy to just skip England.

If it feels wrong, it is wrong

This is another very good hook for the mind. As I mentioned, it is a very good idea to listen to your emotions and become wise as to what message they carry. We strongly believe that if something feels wrong, it is wrong.

The complicated part is always figuring out what exactly is wrong. Often we are not specific, just put a bit off by a plan or situation, and it can be very hard to figure out what element is starting the alarm system. Is it the destination, the speed, the way we do it, something we forgot to consider, a mindset, or something else entirely?

In the example in question, it could have been many different perspectives. It might have been wrong to go to England as such, might have been wrong to fight bureaucracy, the date could have been wrong, or the method: Maybe the boat would have been easier, or maybe it was the timing - should we have traveled outside of high season?

A few hours of meditation would probably have answered the question, but this saying is often used just to ease the logic, planning, and structured mind when we decide to let Ease rule and obey the guidance. To let go of our plans and open to new ones.

A full morning of bureaucratic problems just growing is a clear sign. It is a path we do not want to walk, and leaving it, including all the dreams about where we would go and what to explore on the British Islands, we hold on to the idea: If it feels wrong, it is wrong. And we do not need to know what part is wrong; we trust God to have things in the right places and something better on the horizon for us.

When we truly believe this, ease emerges from the deep, our minds settle, and we open our senses to what happens just around us, outside of us, how life will unfold, and amazing presents of adventure, learning, joy, friendship, art, and love are available in abundance. All we need to do is follow the path of ease, love, and energy around us.

Yet: We get nowhere if we don’t start with a simple, logical plan.

The Master Plan for the summer and why it changed

The more extended version of this story is this: We made a rough plan for the summer to spend June in France, mainly in Normandie with the friends we have there, and July in England, based with some other friends. We would receive our new van on June 1st, leave within a week, reach Normandie by the tenth, and stay until the end of the month, where we would join a friend in England to get to know this country new to us. 

Then things happened. And we had to adjust. 

Calais was not the first stone on the path. 

In Spain, our puppy got very sick, and then we became ill ourselves. 

One of us got pneumonia, the heatwave was not helping our recovery, and it was all very frustrating. 

We had to take out the critical thing to have when you plan with a pencil: The eraser. Adjusting the plans and squeezing things together, we finally left Spain for the Roadtrip on June 28th. For bureaucratic reasons, we had to go to Germany (for some papers for our Mercedes Sprinter), and finally, at the beginning of July, we landed in Normandie. Trying to stick to the plan, just shortening everything. 

Let me be very clear: We had amazing times. It was even okay to stay longer in Spain, fitting the new van, and once we were on the road, we had wonderful times. The road trip through France, over Germany, and back to France was beautiful, the arrival with friends was lovely, and it was all very good. 

How nomadic life is our spiritual journey

One thing we truly love about flexible nomad freedom is how we get to learn how life truly works.

This lifestyle teaches us to feel our way, to listen to the signs, and sometimes even clear words from God; it teaches us to trust in an abundant universe. We learn that our path is right before us, fitted with all the right challenges and adventures.

We see how this universal mechanic of life will unfold beautifully once we have our balance. It is hard to see, hard to sort input, and hard to feel if there is chaos on the inside.

The way out is easy. Find ease. Find peace. Find faith. Find joy, at least for a while, and life itself will show you the way.

No matter the lifestyle, this holds.

In our experience, a more mainstream and rhythmic life is less challenging on this life skill, where nomad freedom pushes us to work with this balance between inner and outer life continuously.

Not only does the nomad lifestyle push us to grow spiritually, but it also keeps us on track: Focused and present with our eternal souls.

The adventures are amazing, but of greater importance is the continuous presence, how we feel the heartbeats, and the connection to eternity.

Emotional compass to find our way

I remember on the way through Frace, there was a heatwave, and as we don't travel with a shower, we did reach a point where just washing and swimming in rivers and lakes could no longer do it. We wanted a real shower.

Life works like this: If there is a clear wish and no tension, true inner peace, everything will, in the end, emerge. We went to Orange in the south of France and saw the Amphi theater, moved on, and the next day, we planned to sleep at a campsite to use the showers.

Arriving at the campsite, it did not feel right to enter. The stronger vibe was by the swimming lake right next to it. We used the perfect compass of our emotions and changed the plan.

We had a beautiful collection of lovely moments swimming in the lake, playing music in the sunset, looking at people, and feeling their happiness and ours.

Then we realized the lake starred showers for the visitors, not just toilets.

This is a perfect example. First, we had a plan, but we were willing to give it up once it felt wrong and something else felt more right. And then there was a very easy way to get what we needed.

Giving up on England and a clear signal from life

Giving up on England was more challenging, though. We were very attached to the idea of going to England, all looking forward to it.

We tried very hard to solve a minor and annoying bureaucratic problem - one of our dogs had repelled its microchip, so we were not allowed to enter the country. We visited three vets and talked multiple times with the border office - but we had to cancel in the end.

After a full morning of trying to get on to the shuttle, we decided to drive to somewhere pretty, make a nourishing meal, breathe and get our emotions back in balance.

Here is how God showed us we were on track.

We parked somewhere random we found on the map, somewhere with nature near the ocean but still technically in Calais.

The heat was still on; there was no shade, but no matter.

The context was beautiful and in great harmony with our road trip this far.

The big bunkers hit the theme of WW2. Coming from Bayeaux, we could continue the conversation about the history of Europe while we prepared, enjoyed, and cleaned after the meal.

It was clear the next thing would be to walk to the top of the nearest bunker and enjoy the view. While eating, we saw several cars park and families walking further than the bunker with all kinds of beach gear, so we realized we would be able to get a swim and were very grateful. Nothing will clear our minds like swimming in the ocean.

This would have been enough in itself. But there was more. We crossed the beautiful white sand beach in the low tide and jumped in the water, which seals already inhabited.

Beautiful, cute seals were swimming so close, and we felt so blessed and happy.

It was a fantastic life lesson.

Entering the water with the knowledge we could not cross it, life gave us adventure right there and then.

We were rewarded and encouraged.

We knew we were on the right path, this easy life in flow is the true life, and we accepted the big change.

So, we took out the big eraser and started to change our summer plans for the 117th time.

A special event in Bruges

Next up, we had to go somewhere.

We could not stay at the beach with the seals as the tide flooded our clothes, towels, and shoes. Neither could we remain in the direct sunlight of the parking in the heatwave, so we went with the first idea and drove to Bruges.

Bruges is famous for its old city center and will be full of tourists in the middle of the summer. But it also features a lovely little city forest with a campsite on one side and a public pool on the other - a perfect place to park: Go for a nice cultural walk, have a good rest and a good swim and shower to reset all systems, while making new plans for the summer.

Arriving in Bruges, we had the great pleasure of attending a concert played on the bells of the tower of the main square. This was a new one, never tried that before!

It became a beautiful evening by drifting through the city, having fries and water as the sunset. It was a lovely evening.

The public pool starred a fantastic slide, so the kids had a lot of fun the following day. I was tired and just sat happily with my feet in the water, looking at the kids sliding, going back up, repeating, smiling, and laughing. And in this peaceful happiness, we remembered we had a standing invitation to stay with some friends in the area. An invitation we always had wanted to accept, but as Belgium was never really on our list of places to go, we had never gotten around to saying yes to the invitation.

Our friends, Marjan and her husband Bernard, let us in with big smiles and arms open. How precious this life is, always providing good options. Again we went with our hearts and the feeling of what would be easy and joyful.

So we drove to Ghent, the third largest city in Belgium. It turned out that it was the week of the big Gent Festival - I had never heard about it before. I wonder why? The festival is huge, starring big names in most genres of the music scene, and the old town is full of music, people, and party.

The combination was perfect.

Having a few days to spare, new friendships to develop, a quiet place to park, sofas and wifi for the teens who never miss it when not there but do enjoy it when they can just chill, and a washing machine and shower to compensate for the ten days of heatwave six people in one van. Plus the festival adventure in the evenings.

Life is just amazing!

We had great conversations with our hosts, a lovely peaceful time to work and clean and organize, and fun evenings in Ghent with our teenage group.

Ghent itself is overwhelmingly beautiful.

It is very interesting to experience the teenagers, how their perspective is intelligent and fresh, how they hang out and enjoy, how they like and dislike certain things and share their reflections and ideas with us.

Three full days of this was the perfect thing. Within the first 24 hours, our calendar was almost complete for the entire time we would have been to England, our tickets refunded or converted to vouchers, and the whole family smiled and was happy again.

So —

We teach our children that pain comes from dissonance.

We need to establish a solid inner peace to meet every situation.

On this basis, we can adjust plans and let go of ideas with minimal pain.

Pain is the distance between how we want the world to be and how we perceive it.

If we are not too attached to wanting the world to be a certain way, then we will stay flexible and happy, whatever happens.

Grateful and recharged, we gave good goodbye hugs, finally hugs, not all these kisses of the south! We are returning to Belgium, to friends, nature, and culture, and exploring beautiful Ghent in a not festival mode, where we can see the cathedrals, streets, and museums. Plus, we made lovely friendships, finally accepting the invitation from Marjan and Bernard.

Did this touch you? 

Don't forget we are real people and happy to stay in contact. 

Let us know if this touched you, made you think, or just made you want to share an idea or story. In the comments or send us an email :) We would love to hear from you. 

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