I’m tidying up my house after my latest AirBnB guests have left, a lovely couple who organise outdoor weddings. I just love receiving guests in my sanctuary, making them feel welcome and hearing their stories. Everybody comes for a reason, every soul teaches me something on their way passing through. My phone makes a bleep bleep noise so I glance over to see a message from Dorothy.

“I was thinking of coming over around 14h. Is that OK for you?”

I smile and reply: “Perfecto mundo!”

I get an instant reply back: “OK that means…” and she adds a sad emoji to her message.

I remember that Dorothy is a polyglot in other languages than I am, and she has a deep inherent fear of sounding stupid, which she is not. Recently she asked me to lend her a book so that she could brush up on her intelligent speech. I first got out one of Mama Gena’s books called Marriage Manual. I just love reading Regena Thomashauer. She’s so sassy, so full of spunk. It’s the kind of outrageous I like to add to spice up my daily life. Anyway, Dorothy had resolutely pushed aside my suggestion with the words: “Oh no, I don’t think this book is for me!”

So instead I had given her the Bridget Jones’ omnibus, which contains the first two episodes being her Diary and then the Edge of Reason. I just loved reading Helen Fielding. She’s such a skilled writer in putting down a character that most women can relate to. Dorothy especially finds the diet fads that Bridget makes and breaks hilarious. Whilst I myself am more enthralled with Bridget’s constant throes in her relationships. Going from being totally single to having two pursuiters. My boyfriend on the other hand finds Bridget boring. He says that every story is always the same: choose between two men. But he just doesn’t understand how deliciously intricate this story is.

Anyway, I answer coolly to Dorothy’s question for translation: “Literally translated it means ‘perfect world’. Meaning that sounds like a good plan. Perfect!”

I get no reply from my bestie, so I continue doing my chores and assisting children with their homework. It’s a wonderful sunny day and there’s a feeling lingering in the air that good things are going to happen. At 14h on the dot the doorbell rings and Dorothy is standing there smiling.

“Huh, so much for our plan of going to the seaside today.” She rolls her eyes. “When we checked the weather forecast last week, it spelled rain and storm for today, so we decided not to go. And now look. It’s full blazing sun!”

“That’s the weather for you.” I smile back at her as she pecks me on the cheek. “Never can be sure how the weather will turn in Belgium. And like all things in life, situations evolve. And the weather is just as unpredictable as life itself.”

“Well you sound chirpy. What have you been up to?” Dorothy inquires as she takes off her shoes to make herself comfortable.

“Oh I’ve been very productive.” I beam, as getting things done does always make me happy, gives me a feeling of accomplishment. “Got up early this morning to get out passports sorted out. Senegal isn’t long now.”

“Oh yes, it’s good you’re getting things sorted.” Dorothy nods. “Did you get your vaccines yet?”

“Yes we did, last week.” I answer. “But guess what. I suddenly realised that getting passports also means I need pictures of me and the three littles. I found passport pictures for Winston and Lilly, and also for Willem, although he has changed such a lot in a couple of months. I wasn’t sure they would accept his pictures for lack of resemblance. But guess who has spent a whole afternoon doing a photo shoot, but has no passport pictures?”

“Oh no, you’ve got to be kidding!” Dorothy exclaims. “You didn’t have any pictures? That’s really Murphy’s law if you ask me. And as for the baby’s pictures… Babies change such a lot over a short period of time. You’d have to take new pics every month if you want accurate resemblance.”

“Well yes, there was no problem for the baby’s pictures. In fact the woman behind at the administration center only glanced at him. The kids have to be present you know.” I inform her. “As for me, I had to have some very horrible pictures taken on the spot. You know, those horrible little picture cabins which give such flaccid looking photos. Yup, I’ve now got one of those stuck to my passport for the coming ten years.”

“Oh come on, nobody will see!” Dorothy tries to console me.

“But I will.” I urge on. “I’m going to see it each time I embark on one of my next dream-come-true journeys. It’s going to be a reminder that I even forgot to smile on the picture.”

“You didn’t smile?” Dorothy asks.

“You’re not allowed to show your teeth on passport pictures.” I tell her. “So I just kept a serious straight face. But I only thought afterwards I could have put a friendly smile on my face.”

“Why can’t you show your teeth?” Dorothy wants to know.

“It’s got something to do with those computerised facial recognition scans.” I repeat what I’ve been told. “Apparently the program will fail if you show teeth. The computer can’t deal with it.”

“So what happens after Senegal? Where are you off to then?” Dorothy prods me.

“I’m working on a few things.” I tell her dreamily. “I have a whole bucket list which just needs some prioritising right now.”

 

From now on, I want to take a moment to stop and really think if the next journey will bringing more meaning into my life. Will it potentially help me meet new and interesting people, or give me a reason to spend quality time with my children? Will it expose me to something I’ve never done before? Remember that making memories always trumps accumulating clutter, even clutter in the mind.

One of the keys to happiness and personal growth is to spend your money on experiences, not things. Experiences help you define your purpose and passions, broaden your perspective, meet new people, and strengthen your relationships.

 

What do you think? Where would you go next? Let me know in the comments below.

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