This week’s ‘A world of inspiration‘ is brought to you by Amanda van Mulligen, a British expat in the Netherlands. Amanda shares with us a lovely narrative about the colourful people she’s met as an expat in the Netherlands, and how these people have inspired her in many ways.

A Patchwork Quilt

Walking up the tree-lined path to the old farmhouse, I notice the multitude of colours of the flowers alongside the small brook. They are beginning to bloom in response to the first hint of spring. I hear only the sound of birdsong. My knocking on the front door disturbs the peace.

Splash of Colour As I wait for my interviewee to arrive, I glance around from my vantage point in the kitchen and take in the dark wood encasing the room, the mosaic table and the wooden ceiling. I note the recipes lining the fridge and the orange flowers in a vase. The house has a lived in feel; the furniture and decor is all about comfort.

As Jo Parfitt breezes into the kitchen, the room is suddenly full of life. She joins me at the kitchen table and I begin asking her about her life as an expatriate wife and writer. For an hour, she shares stories of her life in Dubai, Norway and Oman and tells me of her struggles to repatriate in England. She tells how she came to be here in the Netherlands.

It is the second time I have met Jo. She exudes an air of knowledge. She inspires her students to write; nudging them towards their dreams and selflessly putting people in touch with others who can help them achieve their goals. At the end of my interview with Jo, I know this will not be our last contact.

Sure enough later in the year, Jo puts me in touch with an American expat in Italy who is creating a support network for expat women entrepreneurs. Karen Armstrong invites me to participate in a Life Design Course that she is running. I don’t hesitate and spend ten weeks in close contact with a group of inspiring, motivating women, all living outside their “home” countries, trying to live life to the full. It is a fascinating journey: an exploration of the changes I want in my life.

A few months later, I receive an email entitled “referral from Jo Parfitt”. A humanitarian asks me to write an article about her work in a business school. She is soft-spoken and modest about her life’s mission to help lessen the suffering of others. She has seen horrors in war torn areas and people in the pits of poverty. She inspires me to look at the world a little differently, to look further than my own back yard and with a little more compassion and understanding. Dr Lyly Rojas has entered my life.

Lyly asks her business students to consider the moral issues and the consequences on society of a €4,000 designer dress that child slaves made; she inspires me to think about where my clothes come from too. They may not be designer or expensive, but are they moral? Can we buy more consciously to force companies to conduct themselves more ethically?

Most recently, Jo contacted me about interviewing an adventurer, a woman who thinks nothing of climbing a mountain in pursuit of inner knowledge and challenge. Cathy O’ Dowd crossed my path. She is beyond inspiring.

Arriving on Dutch soil from England turned out to be only the start of my journey, not the destination I envisaged it to be. My expat life is like a colourful patchwork quilt, delicately created from the people I meet and my overseas experiences. It accompanies me every step I take.

About this week’s guest writer
Amanda Amanda van Mulligen is an expat writer, a full-time stay at home mum, owner of The Writing Well, an amateur photographer and an ACCESS volunteer. Her company, The Writing Well, provides English language writing services – writing, proof reading, editing and copy writing. Amanda keeps us entertained with her expat tales on Letters from the Netherlands.

Follow Amanda on Twitter.

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