I’m ready to take action. I was on the plane to Africa, squeezed in between 2 people, a very narrow middle seat. But yet so happy I could leave the Netherlands for a while. It felt like a liberation. I almost ran down the stairs from the plane when I landed on Port Elizabeth.
6 weeks in Oyster Bay, living almost on the beach and listening to the sound of the ocean all day. Staying in such an environment is healing and brings out all kinds of ideas. I noticed that the first time I was there: nature is so overwhelmingly beautiful and there is so much space. It had a lot of impact on me at the time. I just hoped that would still be the case.
Leave the battle
Of course it was nice to see Nic, although it was only 3 weeks since he left. He was deeply concerned about the business shit that overwhelmed me just before I left. He also expressed his admiration that I had chosen to not put any more negative energy into that stuff. Despite of the price I had to pay for it, around 4000 euros.
I also admired myself for doing that. I know that in the past I would have battled till there would be nothing left. But now it was my daughter-in-law Luana who showed me the way. She told me money is nice in itself, but ” not being like the man I worked for was worth much more ” and she also said I was a beautiful person. Lu may not always open up like that but this time she did and at the exact right moment.
Time to think
The next morning I sat on the fence drinking coffee and looking at the ocean. For 6 weeks I would be able to enjoy that view. Might seem like forever but I knew it would go quick. I felt I had to grab these 6 weeks to find an answer to the following question: what would happen if I gave up my house?
I immediately told Nic what my plans were about. He found them “bold” but immediately grasped the freedom it would provide. Freedom to choose, to go wherever I want. In short: be in the driver’s seat.
Talking to Nic is great. He just listens and asks questions. It speeds up my own process and so I quickly came up with a list of points I had to figure out:
Ready for action list# 1
- Are there enough opportunities for me to watch other people’s houses
- When can I end the lease of my house
- What do I do with all my stuff
- How many suitcases do I need to carry around
- How will Emiel and other important people respond
- Does it affect Nic’s visa applications
- What happens if I deregister from the municipality?
- Is there enough online work for me
- Can I manage without a car?
It struck me that I immediately took the practical approach. Considerations such as: “How will I feel without a roof over my head?” or “What will it be like if I have to get rid of all my stuff?” were not on my mind. I was already bored with all the stuff I gathered over the years and which I never used. It was just there eating dust.
And as for the house, I never considered this house to be a real home. I felt locked up in there for one reason or the other.
Registering at appropriate sites
I started with number 1 on the list and registered myself at a large home-sitting site. Writing a good profile obviously gives you a good advantage. So I spent a lot of attention to it. Immediately after I posted it the requests came pouring in! Of course I was really happy with that, but somehow I knew upfront it would work like that.
Getting rid of my house
Time to move on to number 2 on the list? When shall I end my lease on the house? The 1st of October would be great, but I would only be back from Africa on the 26th August. That planning seemed a bit tight. Which meant I had to stick with the lease till November 1st. Immediately I contacted a sitter-address in Zeeland and told them I would be able to stay there for 3 month, starting November 1st. The people were very pleased to hear that but also warned me the place was pretty deserted. No one ever managed to stay there longer than a week! But I felt confident about it. Nic would also be there so no sweat.
Just in case of the event that I COULD quit the lease earlier, I also made a sitter-deal starting October 3 and ending October 31st. A nice house in Gorinchem with 2 dogs and four cats. Of course I knew that I would still have to meet the people in person to confirm my stays but I was pretty confident about it. I refused to assume that it would work out differently.
Just find out what you are capable of!
Stay away from “But what …” when you want to change something. Otherwise you can never move forward. Just believe that, when things don’t work out the way you planned, you will be able to solve it. So don’t be afraidand just take a leap. It’s the only way to find out what you are really capable of. And you may surprise yourself!
Ask yourself: Is staying in the same old situation better than trying to change it? No matter how scary that might feel? Just imagine how good it would feel to find out you can really work things out? So get ready for action!
Spilling the beans
First I informed my son Emiel and my family and some good friends about my plans. I got mixed reactions, as expected. Emiel phoned me and asked me: “Mom, do you think it will work out? Do you think it will give you time to do things differently? Or could it be you will be still faced with a lot of stress because you can’t find places to stay?” Good questions, and especially: questions and rather than just an opinion. I’m proud of him. “What does Lu think?” I asked him. “She felt it is quite a hectic decision,” Miel said with a nice feeling of understatement. “But I told her if my mum comes up with something like this, she knows what she’s talking about and feels it can work.” Nothing changed since he was a little boy, already then he would tell everyone “My mummy can do everything!”
Of course, most people expressed their concern. And also: “Why on earth would you take a step like this? What if it goes wrong?” I do understand that. But no one seemed to realise that sticking to my old life was even more “wrong”.
I do understand now that in general people rather stick to the securities they have, even if that means a lot of misery. Apparently, leaving the familiar behind is quite difficult. “You don’t know what will happen!”, that’s what they told me as well.
But actually I knew that quite well although there were obviously no guarantees. Well, there was 1:100% certainty that my “old” life made me unhappy. So to me it was perfectly clear that I had to move forward.
Perfect starting position
- I only need to to fix home-sitting deals 6 months a year (because the other 6 I can stay in South Africa with Nic)
- No pets or children to take care of
- I’m already moving towards online work so I can make money everywhere
How many storage do I need?
I contacted storage facilities to find out about the cost involved. Because I would need some space to store the stuff I really wanted to hang on to.
I decided I would not spend more than 60 euros a month, 4m3. Some things I wanted to keep I could maybe store at friend’s houses. Like my 2 favorite chairs, large paintings Cees made, a tea trolly that I have been dragging on for 32 years already. A big mirror.
Boxes with memories of Cees could be put in the storage room and suitcases with clothes I wouldn’t wear because off-season.
All the other things I would get rid of. Yes, my clothes and my shoes included. And almost all my handbags. My friends thought that was an exceptionally good idea.
The Dutch System
I found out I must try to get a formal letter address at a municipality. If you do not have a permanent place of residence because you spend a large part of the year abroad, you may be eligible for this. Then you will not be deregistered from the basic register which has many advantages. I figured out it would be a hell of a job to get that thing.
Nic was to apply for a new visa for the next trip to the Netherlands. That meant he had to fix that before I would switch to a letter address. He needs to supply the Dutch Embassy a “accommodation declaration” so they know he has a roof over his head while being in the Netherlands. That statement must be stamped at the municipality and they won’t give you one if you don’t have a “fixed address”.
So he needed to arrange that visa as quickly as possible and try to get one that is valid for at least 3 years. The Embassy has the final say in that so I decided I would write a letter which he could include in his application. Anyway, now I knew for sure I could not quit the lease on my house until the visa was granted. If I was lucky, that would be fixed November 1st.
Less money needed
And then there was the question “Is there enough online work?” Good question and frankly: no idea. And then… what is enough? Although I would far less money per month than in the past, I do need to make some.
Checking my financial spreadsheet I immediately figured out the minimum amount I would need. It was clear: with a few nice assignments I could build up a buffer that would be sufficient for months. A buffer! Just the idea of that made me feel SO happy!
Furthermore, I decided that eventually I would have to walk away from work where you get paid by the hour. No matter how you look at it, there is a limit to the number of hours you can make. And therefore also a limit to what you can earn. When you make 150 or more euros per hour that might not be a problem. But it certainly is when you earn only half of that or even less.
But … first get the money machine rolling. Preferably by doing nice work for reliable clients. That is a challenge in itself, I have figured that out over the last couple of years. But now, my starting point is different: I can just say NO if it doesn’t feel right. And I really believe that people will notice that.
Need a copy writer?
And that of course immediately brings me to the next question: Do you happen to know someone who is looking for a good copywriter? Or maybe you are looking for one yourself? Pleae let me know! Take a look at my LinkedIn profile or send me an email