Home Sweet Home

The Hollands! BusFor many the nomadic lifestyle is a romantic notion but when push comes to shove most wouldn’t uproot for fear of being out there in the wide world all alone with no anchor. That’s OK, nomadic life isn’t for everyone. We were the same. We lived ten years of our married life in one geographical area and although we would dream of adventure, we had no idea how to deconstruct our current situation to make room for the new lifestyle. However, when we felt the call to up root, give everything away and hit the road, we decided to move into the mystery of that calling regardless of our lack of knowledge, fears or the fears of those around us and take the leap of faith. 

Here we are five years on and many have been inspired by our faith story, however there are still some who just can’t wrap their minds around not having a “home.” We are often asked by these friends, “how long do we plan on being on the road?” And, “if, as we travel, if we were looking for a new place to call home?” We can confidently say that nomadic life is our home. “Home is where you park it” is a popular hashtag/slogan in our nomadic world and we have found many like-minded kinfolk along the way, all trading in the bricks and mortar for the wide open spaces.

img_8392Fifteen months ago, we traded in our bus for backpacks and began an epic trek around Australia and South East Asia. In Australia we bought a used minivan and used that as our main form of transpiration and storage. We reached out to kinfolk and found an abundance of hospitality and although we had access to tents, in the eleven months we were in Australia we only had to sleep in them twice. We were humbled by the generous and kind welcome by our Aussie hosts and cherish the opportunities we had to share in story and friendship.  

As we made our way around Australia, many asked the age-old questions, “what our favorite place had been so far or if there was a place that felt more like home and ultimately, if there’s one place that we’d feel like settling back down in?” We answered them all the same, stating every place had it’s pull, it’s charm, and most of our feelings of affection came from the people in each of the places more than the places themselves. And finally, we’d answer, that so far there hadn’t been one place that we could have just stopped and stayed and stayed. That is until, Sydney.

In August, we were invited to house sit for our dear friends, the Perini’s. We met the Perini’s in 2000 at St. Hillary’s Anglican in Kew (Melbourne). I remember that first Sunday, Michelle came right up to me, introduced herself and got my phone number. Over the next year, she would pick me up regularly for playgroups, coffee dates, lunch and to just get out of the house. We became fast friends, and she became a dear mentor to me. The fella’s connected too and even though we moved back to the states after only a year, we stayed in touch and visited every time we went back. Eventually they moved to Sydney and we were excited to see them once again. However, this time around, they would be going out of the country to Italy for six weeks and they asked us to stay in their Glebe home and mind it for them while they were gone. The timing couldn’t have been better. We had done a pretty bouncy two month stint in the Byron Shire, all with amazing host families, but our backs were tired from the unloading and loading and from adjusting to so many different beds, so the thought of being in one place for six weeks was exhilarating. 

img_6452We arrived at the Terrace house, which sat nestled in a row of terrace homes a few blocks down from all the shops and restaurants on Glebe Point Road. The Perini’s invited us in for a cuppa (that’s a hot drink in Australian slang), and they explained the nuances of their sweet home. It was a warm space filled with all of their treasures, books, loads of books and antiques. Michelle’s signature color of cherry red made the space pop with joy. 

img_0867They next day they flew out and we settled in. The space immediately felt like home with plenty of room to spread out but just small enough to feel close to one another. The kitchen was my favorite place to be. Oh! to have access to a full kitchen unhindered, what a delight! We enjoyed the back patio and reading their many books. We also took advantage of the close proximity to all of the shops, specially Banjo who would walk up the street on a whim to get a kombucha from the local IGA. And, at sunset we would go for a family walk down to the river front board walk, loop around and walk back up through the main road. The neighborhood was active and alive and over the weeks we found familiar faces greeting us and for the first time ever in our travels, we all stated with confidence that this was a place that we could just stay, and stay for a long, long time.  

To top it all off, we had already established relationships in the neighborhood with the “Gleebox” girls, as well as, some friends we knew through the Perini’s and new friends we had met through our kinfolk network.

Plus, we had a number of guest stay with us, including our nephew, who flew up for a weekend from Melbourne. Our friend Cass from Singapore came for a whirlwind evening where we shared dinner and story. Our friend Daryl from the US, came for a two-week stay and we hiked, went to the beach, enjoyed the local sights and sounds, food and markets.  Our friend Neelke, from the Netherlands, came for a few nights and we jam-packed as much as we could into her visit. We also caught up with our friend Andrew, who we met in Cambodia. It was awesome having so many kinfolk that we had met from all over the world come to our door front!

We enjoyed playing host, having the world come to us! We loved using our space to bring community together hosting dinner parties, afternoon teas, sharing sacred space, and providing a safe place to share story. We even hosted a house concert, where we cleared the room, made a bunch of yummy treats, set the stage and a whole slew of kinfolk that we had met through out the previous weeks came and enjoyed an evening of music. Our muso friends, Naomi Nash, Cameron James Henderson and Graciana Holland performed a songwriter in the round concert. It was intimate and spectacular and truly the highlight of our stay.  

The six weeks flew by and everyday was filled with the richness of life, community and the beauty of a city wrapped in the natural surroundings of water. If we could encapsulate one memory from our travels that we would want to keep forever, this would be the stop.

So now, when people ask us if we have a favorite place or a place we would want to settle down in, we can answer, yes, Sydney, Australia, specifically in a little terrace home just off Glebe Point Road, where we could meld into the local atmosphere, sharing life and using our space to create community, where instead of us going to the world, the world comes to us, then yes, that’s the place we would love to be. It’s a dream we know, but for now we can savor the little taste we were given and know that if we were ever to shift from nomadic life to bricks and mortar, it would have to live up to this new-found expectation. Until then, we keep rolling, taking each stop just as it is, pliable and available to be woven together with those we meet along the way, bringing with us love and light. Until then, #homeiswhereyouparkit.

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One Holland Down

We’ve been touring our way down the east coast of Australia, starting up near Cook Town at the Wallaby Creek Music festival, then flying down to Brisbane, buying a van and driving south to Byron Bay.

While there, we got a call from Craig’s Auntie regarding his Granny’s health and had to make some tough decisions. We all wanted to see Granny, but the final plan didn’t allow for all of us to go. Instead, Craig flew from Byron Bay down to Melbourne on a Wednesday and the plan was for him to fly back up to Sydney on the Saturday and meet us at the music festival we were booked in for. The only glitch was that the kids and I would have to pack up and drive the five and a half hours down to Port Macquarie to perform at a the Kimandi House Concerts. And, then rise before the sun to drive the five hours to the Northern Beaches Music festival so as to be on the stage by 1pm. Logistics aside, it also meant that we, (Graciana, Banjo and myself ) would be performing without Craig (our anchor). After sussing out all of the options, this one seemed best and so we decided to go for it.

So, with Craig on his way, the three of us got busy rehearsing our songs, finding new life in them, each taking more ownership and as we worked through our limitations we found new abilities and the songs began to take shape. We were feeling pretty confident until we arrived and found out 65 people were coming to the house concert, and that they were mostly all choir/musicians.

IMG_6037However, our hosts, Marie and Grant welcomed us to their beautiful Port Macquarie home and as we explained our circumstances of a missing member they seemed calm and reassuring. We had a lovely pre-show dinner. However, Craig’s absence was noticeable as we shared story. We were really missing him!

Soon the guests started arriving and we moved to the living room to tune our instruments. Anticipation was high and the three of us were all a bit giddy. The crowd was buzzing and you could feel a sense of excitement in the salty air.

The concert started, then a break, and then another set. It felt as if we were floating on a cloud and then in a blink, the night was over. As a mother, I couldn’t help but take delight in my children’s amazing abilities and professionalism. I was standing in the middle of two stunning performers, both excellent in their craft and for the first time really having to carry the load.

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Graciana was sensational and picked up the slack by engaging with the audience, telling stories and speaking eloquently between songs. She lead songs she didn’t normally take the helm on and even shared some of her own writings. And, Banjo was fantastic too! He was able to temper his drumming to fit the room, providing the perfect frame-work for us to dance around. He was considerate and strong, playing just under our voices so as to complement and not over power. Of course, we missed Craig dearly, but it was definitely a rush to have to learn how to depend upon each other and the experience really stretched all of our abilities.

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The night turned out awesome! And, the response from our hosts, as well as their friends, was outstanding. What an honor to walk into a situation and be allowed to infuse goodness into an already wonderful community!

IMG_6045We said goodbye to our lovely hosts that night, as an early morning awaited us. In the end, we made it down to the Northern Beaches Music festival just in time to connect with Craig and hop on stage and sing our hearts out. It was in that moment, that we all looked at each other, the four of us, took a deep breath and delighted that we were all back together.

 

 

 

Franada

IMG_4184Bonjour, Bienvenue au Québec! (Hello, Welcome to Quebec!)

The French Provence of Canada embodied the spirit of hospitality and the moment we crossed over into the eastern Provence of Quebec, we felt right at home. Yes, all of the street signs were in French, and we don’t know French, but there were welcome signs everywhere and all along the way, the people met us with smiles, even the construction worker on the highway waved us through with enthusiasm. And, the efforts the locals made to meet us where we were at, openly sharing the richness of their culture, food, family, and the delight of community, really made our trip through the area a fantastic memory we hope to revisit again someday.

IMG_4403Our host family, Vann & Chantal and their awesome children welcomed us to their tiny hometown of Saint-Séverin, where we would park for a week, and enjoy life through their local eyes.

Our first night in town, we drove up the road to Saint-Frédéric, for a “Tent.” Local life in the summer means all the little towns in the area create a rotating tent that rolls through a different town every weekend. It includes a fundraising night of festivities, a beer garden and a rock band, usually a cover band, to come and play music. The night that we went a Bon Jovi tribute band took the stage, and let me tell you, they looked and sounded just like Bon Jovi. Craig got a bit of loving that night for his epic mustache. Dudes were enviously staring at him all night, and one bloke actually came up to him and began to enthusiastically reach out to pull his mustache, stating “j’aime ton pinch.” Which translated I love your mustache. We were all a little taken aback by the fella’s forwardness but it was flattering.

The next night we performed in Vann and Chantal’s barn for a good handful of their friends and neighbors. The barn was a fantastic venue, with twinkle lights, candles and a great sound system. They had a potluck style dinner and performed two sets of Hollands songs but continued sharing music in the round well into the wee hours of the night.

IMG_4272Sunday morning we roused for mass at the local parish just a block from the house. It was lovely to be so close. The service was all in French but we had enough experience with the format to be able to follow along. Our favorite part though was the beauty of the cathedral. Although just a small town of 250, the cathedral was grand. Actually every single little town we drove through had an iconic cathedral in the heart of the city center. After church Chantal took us an hour drive up to Quebec City, where she toured us around the famous walled city. It was awesome having a french translator to help us get a lay of the ground. However, everyone was quite friendly and happy to speak to us in English as needed.

IMG_4379Monday the warmer weather drew us to a local secret watering hole. We enjoyed cooling off in the little stream, walking rocks and especially loved the challenge of swimming upstream against the waterfall current. It was relaxing and lead to an evening dinner, and later while the fella’s played a rousing game of poker in the barn, the rest of us sat around a fire and talked well into the night about all the important things of life, like why are we here, who is God and why do bad things happen to good people.

IMG_4396We spent a few more lazy days with our host family, doing laundry, getting groceries, sharing meals and story. Chantal cared for my health by offering to share her gift of Chiropractic with me. Her office was lovely but more than that, her gentle and healing spirit straightened me right out.

On our last day with them, we took a stroll down the road to a local garden owned by an eccentric millionaire. We wandered around the gardens and enjoyed the fresh air and kind companionship.

IMG_4341It wasn’t easy to say good-bye when it was time, as these kinfolk in the Northwoods and rolling hills of Quebec had become family.

And, even now as I write this a few weeks later, we all pine to get back. Specially Craig, who decided although Australian of Scottish decent, that he must somehow be French because he felt so at home.

So I don’t doubt that someday, we’ll roll back through!

 

 

 

 

Photo Journalist

545371_10150940796765376_1314888666_nIn 2010, Kara Counard started coming regularly to our local shows in Northeast Wisconsin. She would show up with her son, friends and a handful of brightly colored hula hoops. Her spirit was humble and as she engaged with our music, a joy would permeate through out the venue. If there was a show where she wasn’t present, we would all make note afterwards, stating that we missed her dancing and jovial hooping. At a certain point, I remember approaching her and declaring how much we appreciated her presence and noted her commitment as a “fan” but that we were keen to share community and story with her and wanted her to be our friend. She shyly agreed to joining us for dinner on our patio one summer evening and that was the beginning of our dear friendship.

Besides being an excellent hooper, Kara has a natural gift and honed talent as a professional photographer. In fact, her eye is prolific, capturing not only the perfect composition but seeing and embracing the light that makes life look absolutely beautiful.

At the beginning of 2015, a conversation began about her desire to ride along on the Hollands bus, as a photo journalist, documenting life on the road. This spring she flew to Asheville and rode with us for a solid week, camera in tow. She chronicled intimate family time, exploring Asheville, a house concert in Pittsboro, historical Richmond, and a beach day in Virginia Beach.

Prior to Kara’s arrival, our son, Banjo, had developed a desire to try his hand at photography. He had been researching camera’s for months and hoped to purchase one for his 14th birthday. So, while Kara was on board, he really sought her expertise on the subject, discovering even more information about brands, lenses, and the art of photography.

IMG_2500A few days into her time with us, her camera started acting up and we had to visit a camera store. Although it was unfortunate the problem was solvable and she had a rented camera within the hour. Her inconvenience ended up being a blessing in disguise for Banjo, as the forced visit to the camera store accelerated his purchase and he walked out with a used Nikon D90 and 50 millimeter lens. Immediately the photography lessons commenced and before the day’s end, with Kara’s guidance, Banjo conquered the Nikon’s components, ready to practice honing his “eye.”

It’s been a blast watching him explore his new-found love, especially with his sister, who is always looking for a photographer for her Dutchygazelle Blog. Big thanks to Kara for taking time away from family and friends, for honoring us with her amazing gifts and talents and for being our friend!

To see more of Kara’s awesome work visit www.bloomphotographybykara.com

Infusing Community

Community. We talk a lot about the subject, calling ourselves Community architects, builders, and encouragers. We take great delight being apart of and watching humanity weave together naturally. We love to see unity and harmony among our fellow-man. Practically though, people ask, how do we do that? There are all sorts of programs out there on building community, from creating small groups (cell groups), joining clubs, to hosting regular gatherings. We appreciate them all, but our favorite way of encouraging the coming together of folks is to offer our musical gifts in a house concert setting. It is here that the host sets the tone of openness by taking a risk and doing something out of the norm. Neighbors and friends from all walks of life gather, enjoy food, drink, conversation and song.

Recently, we were parked with the Heikkila/Hansen families just outside of Austin, TX. They are two beautiful families, linked by a brother and sister relationship, who are united in lifestyle and situated on the same property. They share life with one another on a daily basis. And, although they have a desire to connect with surrounding neighbors, they haven’t known how to go about starting that process.  Our arrival and offer to do a concert in their backyard got their wheels turning. After a little explanation of how the night moves, they felt comfortable and began to put the word out to friends and neighbors. The night brought together kinfolk from all walks of life and the result was an infusion of encouragement and just a little bit stronger bond of understanding and commitment in the neighborhood.

We love twinkle lights, we love playing music together, we love good food and drink but most of all we love seeing people connect and engage. That’s the spice of life for us Hollands! That’s why we call ourselves merrymakers and that is why we do what we do.

If you would like us to come and play in your backyard, we’d be delighted.

 

All of the amazing photos were taken by Van Teodosio.

Byron Bay And The New Earth Tribe

20140228-190313.jpgI’m a beach girl. The surf and sand call to me in my dreams. Craig has taken note of my intense need for this natural setting and booked us a few shows up on the New South Wales coast.

We made our way up from Melbourne to Wollongong, Sydney and as far north as Yamba. We had 2 days free between shows and had our eyes set on Byron Bay. Only another few hours north through banana and sugar cane fields and we could be basking in the sun on one of my dream beaches. It was a birthday wish of mine, but an expensive wish, at over $200 a night in Byron Bay. So, we needed to find a host, and actually really we wanted to find a host. There is nothing more life-giving than sharing a meal and story with kinfolk. And, even better than that is, sharing in that community, ON THE BEACH!

A friend in the US, went to a school called Deep End School of the Supernatural in Byron Bay and sent out an SOS to friends there. At the same time another friend in Australia, totally unrelated to our friend in the US, sent out an e-mail to a friend named Phil Mason. Phil and his wife, Maria are the spiritual directors at a grassroots Spiritual Community in the heart of Bryon Bay called New Earth Tribe. And get this, the Tribe runs a ministry school, the same school our friend in the US attended, so we knew it was meant to be!

20140228-173627.jpgPhil put us on to Hans, one of the Tribe leaders, who was happy to host us. Hans welcomed us to his rustic jungle surf shack.  There was talk of spiders, lizards and the Boa that lives on the roof of the front house, just above Hans’ room. We also talked about the possibility of sharing a meal and an impromptu house concert, which we were happy to do. However, it was the first week of school and both Hans, Phil and Maria were flat-out getting life in order for the new students. And so, we all decided to play it by ear and see what unfolded over the next 48 hours.

Byron Bay BeachAfter we settled in, we found our way down to the beach and experienced one of the most mystical, beautiful, and joyful places we’ve ever seen. We dined that evening at Orgasmic Food Byron Bay, a Middle Eastern Restaurant boasting the best Falafel around. We couldn’t agree more, even our 12 yr old with his picky taste buds, loved it! After a long stroll on the beach we finished off the night with a gelato from Bella Rosa.

Despite the fear of spiders, we had a decent sleep in the surf shack. We woke the next morning before the sun and hurried down to the beach to watch the sunrise. The air, colors and gentle movement of the waves were mesmerizing and enchanting. We stood in awe and savored the precious moment with praise and thanksgiving.

Byron Bay SurfAfter a light breakfast and nap we were ready for the surf! We had our first lesson in Carmel, CA in October and our son was stoked to give it another go.  The waves were fluffy, that’s really the only word I can think of to describe them. They were like riding on fluffy clouds. The sand was softer than talcum powder and a light brown color.

Besides the 9000 locals, Byron Bay attracts millions of backpackers from around the world.  The beach was packed with crowds, but everyone was kind and had a sincerity about them. They all seemed to be as genuinely amazed as we were by the surroundings. We enjoyed a light lunch and a spent another hour or so in the crystal blue water before heading back to camp to get ready for dinner and the gathering that Hans organized.

Phil and Maria MasonAt dinner we dined with Hans, Phil and Maria. Although, our first time meeting Phil and Maria, it was as if we were old dear friends. We sat across the table soaking up every word they said, taking it all in, and longing to stay. We were encouraged to hear about their work in a community that is a mecca for a diverse range of creative and alternative cultures. Also known as the rainbow region, the area in and around Byron is considered to be the spiritual home of Australia’s hippy movement. With that climate in mind, New Earth Tribe was birthed. They are disciples of Christ who are seeking to recapture the essence, power and relationship with the Spirit that He walked in.  I love it when a ministry is in context to the culture around it, meeting people where they are at and offering and opportunity for folks to truly know God more.

After dinner we drove about 25 minutes into the hills to the Cloverdale house. There were fairy lights and candles lit, wine and nibbles set on white linens and blankets strung about the lawn. The vibe was festive and four beautiful women welcomed us to their historical Queensland home. More kinfolk from the Tribe joined the gathering and we enjoyed a night of festivity, celebrating a faithful God who delights in putting the body together.

One day at a time. That’s become a motto, not so much because we are so laid back and easy-going, but because we have been so stripped back touring here in Australia that we really have had times where we go to bed at night unsure what the next day will hold.

Sometimes the weight of logistics can really take its toll on our little family. But, then there are times where we let go and just allow things to unfold. These have been the times where we have experienced provision, seen the most amazing miracles, connected with hidden community and found deep solace in a God who goes before us.

20140228-174927.jpgBy the way, we were smitten with this lovely little bus. We spotted it in a town called Bangalow along side of the road. And, it was for sale! $21,000 or best offer.

After two months without our bus/home we are missing the conveniences of having a home on wheels. There was a tickle of a thought that maybe we could purchase this darling orange mobile but it was too quick to catch and it fluttered away. How cool would that be though?!

Host Family – San Diego

IMG_4092It is a beautiful thing, to be invited into someone home to share space and community. We met our San Diego/Carlsbad family on a visit to Colorado Springs and they suggested that we swing through on our way down to Phoenix this year. How can you pass that up!

We enjoyed the full immersion into the daily in’s and out’s of their lives. Mike is an innovative and thoughtful fella, busy starting up a genome company and Lauren, his wife, is one classy lady. She’s warm, welcoming and a leader among women. Their three little ones were delightful with bright spirits full of joy and laughter.

It was a change of pace for us but the “young family flow” is one we remember well. Car seats, soccer games, mommy groups, long work days, trips to the park, the beach, in-and-out burger, laundry and naps. Over the weekend, they threw a lovely house concert, inviting friends from play groups, church, neighborhood and family. It was an honor to be able to be used to bring their community together and we look forward to hearing how that community continues to grow.