Celebrating Holland

by Cathy Anthony

I have been in Holland for over a decade now and it has become home.  I have had time to catch my breath, to settle and adjust, to accept something different than Iíd planned.  I reflect back on when I first landed in Holland.  I remember clearly my shock, my fear, my anger, and the pain and uncertainty.  In those first few years I tried to get back to Italy, my planned destination, but Holland was where I was to stay.  Today, I can say how far Iíve come on this unexpected journey.  I have learned so much more, but this too has been a journey of time.

I worked hard; I bought new guidebooks; I learned a new language, and I slowly found my way around this new land.  I have met others whose plans changed, like mine, and who could share my experience.  We supported one another and some have become very special friends.

Some of these fellow travelers had been in Holland longer than I and were seasoned guides, assisting me along the way.  Many encouraged me; many taught me to open my eyes to the wonder and gifts to behold in this new land.  I discovered a community of caring Ė Holland wasnít so bad!

I think that Holland is used to wayward travelers like me and grew to become a land of hospitality, reaching out to welcome, assist and support newcomers.  Over the years, I have wondered what life would have been like if I had landed in Italy as planned.  Would life have been easier?  Would it have been as rewarding?  Would I have learned some of the important lessons I hold today?

Sure, this journey has been more challenging and, at times, I would (and still do) stomp my feet and cry out in frustration and protest.  Yes, Holland is slower paced than Italy and less flashy than Italy, but this too has been an unexpected gift.  I have learned to slow down in ways too and look closer at things with a new appreciation for the remarkable beauty of Holland with its tulips, windmills and Rembrandts.  I have come to love Holland and call it Home.

I have become a world traveler and discovered that it doesnít matter where you land; what is more important is what you make of your journey and how you see the very special, the very lovely things that Holland, or any land, has to offer.  Yes, over a decade ago I landed in a place I hadnít planned yet Iím thankful, for this destination has been richer than I ever could have imagined!