Tulips. We all think of tulips this time of year, especially in Chicago after a very long and challenging winter. We look for signs of spring... and seeing a bud form on a tree branch, the sound of birds chirping and the sight of tulips raises our senses and bring us comfort knowing that the warm sun will rise once more.
My journey to The Netherlands was earlier than most travelers. I couldn't wait. Rather than being caught up in the hustle and bustle of the visitors to see the country explode with color, I chose to become part of the people, the country that I have loved and waited so long to see. There was a time last year when a friend told me, if you want to see the culture so bad, travel to Holland, Michigan. There you will meet Dutch people and see the tulips that your heart desires. Nope. I wanted it raw, I wanted it real and I waited until this month to truly take the journey of a thousand tulips. Sunny days, with a chill in the air, I immersed myself into the beauty of a lifestyle that I treasure. It is a lesson in letting go, in trusting the unknown and leaving all preconceived ideals behind you. I jumped on that bike, and rode through the streets and into the village. I saw a country that puts people first, not commerce. Goedemorgen MaryEllen was a familiar sound and as I rode everywhere on my bike with the basket. I did not take a step back in time, but I took a step back on finding a newly inspired Zen Living.
The tulips represented so much more. The search for color and unique petals in a country that is known and admired for it's connection to nature. Where at every corner store there are fresh tulips and an energy and love that I have never experienced before. Smiling faces and happy people in the smallest of spaces and never ever one complaint or negative comment. Acceptance and unconditional love. This is what a country filled with tulips brings. I blogged last year at this time about the tulips, but with my journey there I discovered so much more. You really ride to the market everyday on your bike for your fresh food? You carefully trim the stems so that the tulips last longer and you cherish them in your front window the same as you honor lighting a candle in a historic chapel. It is living in the moment, that moment that raises my awareness of living a Zen lifestyle no matter where you call home. Each and every day I spent there, I wanted one more day. I wanted to see one more bunch of tulips, maybe this time with two colors, or rippled edges. With each day and each bike ride I began to find a deeper connection that I did not have the honor to experience before this trip.
The Netherlands is a United Kingdom. A country that today, President Obama arrives to experience for himself the gentle kindness of over seventeen million people and eleven hundred square miles. A kingdom that although royal, has the class and simplicity that truly reflects in each petal of every tulip. A Kingdom that includes the independent islands of Aruba, Curacao and Sint Maarten and three unique municipalities of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba. With planes and cars and body guards President Obama landed in a peaceful kingdom that greeted him with a bouquet of tulips today. He will not need to understand their words, just as I did not need to speak the Dutch language, it was understood in the smiles and the eyes of every woman, man and child.
A journey of a thousand tulips begins as soon as you give yourself permission to let go and begin living. Doei Doei.
Love and Light... M
Photos copyright 2014 MaryEllen Malinowski, Zen Living by design | Infrared Light Int'l zenlivingbydesign.com M@infraredlight.com
Zen Living by design Magazine | Spring 2014
Tags: art, bath, be, blog, Buddhism, calm, chicago, child, design, Dutch, energy, free, gift, gratitude, Healing, Holland, House, international, japanese, Kingdom, Leaders, lifestyle, light, living, malinowski, mantra, maryellen, meditation, morning, Netherlands, Now, peace, photography, pond, President Obama, sanctuary, soul, St. Charles, sun, time, Tulips, universe, Water, whisperer, World, zen, Zevenaar