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Solutions for Life

from Solutions Counseling & EAP by Keri Forbess-McCorquodale, MS, LPC, LMFT, CEAP

I recently ran across this short essay that I think is just brilliant:

Welcome to Holland by Emily Perl Kingsley

When you’re going to have a baby, it’s like planning a fabulous vacation trip – to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It’s all very exciting. After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, “Welcome to Holland.” “Holland?!?” you say. “What do you mean Holland? I signed up for Italy! I’m supposed to be in Italy. All my life I’ve dreamed of going to Italy.” But there’s been a change in the flight plan. They’ve landed in Holland and there you must stay. The important thing is that they haven’t taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It’s just a different place. So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met. It’s just a different place. It’s slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you’ve been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around… and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills… and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts. But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy… And for the rest of your life, you will say “Yes, that’s where I was supposed to go. That’s what I had planned.”


But… if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn’t get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things…about Holland. Ever since I read this, it has come back to me time and time again. As I researched, I found that the essay has been used for babies born with health issues, Down’s syndrome, and autism. And it fits all of those perfectly. I have friends who have beautiful children with those things, and some have made it psychologically to Holland while others are still struggling. But I think this essay fits all of our lives along with those for whom it was specifically written. How many times have you made your plans, and bought your guidebooks, only to have it all derailed by something out of your control? How many times have we ended up in Holland with a big decision to make – bemoan the fact that we are not in Italy, or look around and begin to find the beauty in our current “Hollandish” situation? We all know people who have chosen the former: they will never move forward from whatever tragedy has befallen them. They will choose to be in mourning for the rest of their lives. Or they will choose to be bitter and resentful that their lives did not turn out as they had planned, which is even worse. I hope you fall into the latter category. Sure, you were stunned at first by the major, unplanned changes. You even were in denial about them, refusing to truly believe the changes were real. But at some point (more quickly as time goes on), you re-grouped, looked around and said, ”Hmm… Holland…never thought I’d be here. But here I am so, let’s see what this place has to offer!”

Thrive Magazine for Better Living

October 2015

Thrive October 2015 Issue  

October 2015 Issue of Thrive

Thrive October 2015 Issue  

October 2015 Issue of Thrive