Showing posts with label Introduction. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Introduction. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Our dream

We have a dream of an off-the-grid and largely self-sufficient existence, living in undisturbed wilderness where you can roam without seeing a trace of other people.

Although it is over six years since we said goodbye to our old life, our new life hasn't become boring - or even ordinary. Our old farmhouse lies in the middle of the forest, so we frequently get wildlife visitors. We spend as much time as possible outdoors, partly exploring nature and partly doing all the chores and maintenance that come with living on an old farm. We try to make a living by writing. And we spend as little money as possible. Happiness is a state of mind which you can't buy, so why should you buy lots of stuff that you don't really need? We use firewood from our own trees, catch fish in the lake and gather mushrooms and wild berries in the forest. We take great pleasure in every day and have more than enough plans to keep us busy. We can even say that our journey to a different life isn't over yet. We still have dreams to fulfil, thus the journey continues. The destination is a life even more in contact and harmony with nature than it is today. A few key words are: sustainable living, less is more, conservation, personal freedom and - above all - respect for nature and our planet. This may sound heavy, but do not worry. We haven't lost our minds and have no intention whatsoever of going to extremes. Until then we intend to enjoy our freedom and our new found way of life in the Swedish woods.

And we intend to continue writing about our experiences and whatever is on our minds, both in book form and on our blog. So - if you are interested - keep following our blog and you won't miss a thing.

Our story - part 3

This is the third part of the short version of our story.

2009 - 2010
We spent a lot of time enjoying the outdoor life and doing all the chores that come with living on an old farm. We acquire a little piece of forest and build a holiday home for our parents. The place that has become our home has a firm hold on us. Besides short trips to Berlin, Southern Sweden, Iceland and Jämtland, we almost never leave the woods. Once again we make a radical change in our way of making a living: we end our consulting activities which are demanding more time and energy than is good for us. This proves to be the right decision. The good feeling that we already had about our new life gets even stronger. In the spring of 2010 we celebrate the fact that we have been happily living in The High North for five years, years which, due to a profusion of adventures and special experiences, have just flown by. The anniversary seems the right moment to evaluate the previous years. And it is the beginning of a period in which we are no longer living day by day, but also starting to plan for the future. Part of this will be seriously picking up our writing activities again which should lead to the publication of some new books in 2011 or 2012. Due to circumstances, including the health of our dog Jeanny - not a life threatening concern, but an energy-consuming one - we have not been able to write in a constructive way over the past two years. Books, that is. We only write one: 'Bestemming Zweden, an emigration checklist' (August 2009). On the other hand, we can be satisfied with the daily posts on our Dutch blog. Considering the many enthusiastic responses that we receive, we can be assured that we have provided lots of readers with great joy over the past five years.


The above is the - very - short version of our story. Since our relocation to The High North so many extraordinary things have happened, that it is impossible to mention them all. Of course we have learned that Sweden is far from Paradise. Such a place does not exist - not on Earth anyway - and every place or country has its pro's and con's. We can say, though, that we fit in here and that we now lead a better life than ever before. Besides that, our life has become a series of adventures, most of which we wouldn't have missed for the world. We hold our future in our own hands and our adventure isn't over by a long shot. What more could one wish for?

Our story - part 2

This is the second part of the short version of our story.

2005 - 2006
On the 27th of Mai 2005 we start life in Sweden. It is the beginning of a period of hard work. There is a lot of overdue maintenance on the property and we have to go back to school. Learning the Swedish language is our biggest priority because it won't be possible to create a future if we can not communicate. Prior to our emigration to Sweden we have no knowledge whatsoever of the Swedish language. In between we get a lot of pleasure out of exploring our new world and discovering lots of beautiful places. And all of them far from overcrowded (except for the black flies and mosquitoes). We start blogging on a nearly daily basis (in Dutch) and we start a consulting business in order to make a living. Last, but not least, we experience a lot of hilarious things and have exciting adventures - some of them not without danger. Luckily all of them end well for us.


2007 - 2008
We know our way around, have adapted to the Swedish way of life and made new friends and acquaintances- due to the fact that we now master the Swedish language. Then a borrowed book brings us into contact with Anders Olsson. This Swedish celebrity is a person with an unequalled story. A series of unfortunate events in the hospital system render him paralysed from the waist down, bed-ridden for five years and addicted to morphine. But he comes back, and how. Without help and on pure will power he gets rid of his addiction and becomes a Paralympic gold medallist (2004 & 2008) and world champion in handicapped swimming. Our acquaintance with Anders and his story is one of the reasons that our view of life continues to change. At the same time our consulting business generates so much work that we start to wonder whether we are on the right path. Wasn't one of our goals to change the balance between work and our private life? During this period we write three books: 'Naar de Noorderzon, emigrating to Sweden' (June 2007), 'Er is geen grens' - There is no limit / the story about Anders Olsson / translation from Swedish to Dutch - (May 2008) and 'In het Hoge Noorden, living in Sweden' (September 2008). And although it will take a few years until we write the sequels to these books, it slowly becomes clear to us that our future lies in writing.

Our story - part 1

This is the first part of the short version of our story.

2000 - 2002
Longing for a quiet place of our own in natural surroundings, a place which isn't to be found in The Netherlands, we have been contemplating changing our lives for many years. We also want to change the balance between our careers and our private life. We both have challenging jobs, but these are regularly demanding too much time and energy. As a result of this we are frequently postponing doing the things that we really want to do. It is always 'one day' we are going to ... just like the way we are talking about changing our lives.


2003 - 2004
In a relatively short period of time, a number of awful events occur around us. We loose a number of persons that we care about - some of them even younger than we are. This makes us aware that life is short and that just talking about realizing our dreams leads us nowhere. On the 12th of June 2004 the decision is made. It is our dog Jeanny's first birthday and Ben has to admit that he has missed most of the first year of her life. That is the final shove. If we really want to make a change, no matter how or in what way, we must stop talking about it. We must do it. Not next year, next month, next week or even tomorrow. We must do it now.


We resign our jobs and start out on a search for the place of our dreams. The quest leads us via Austria to Sweden. We love The Alps and have been dreaming about living there, but cannot find a place that suits us. In November 2004 a roaring blizzard accompanies us to Hagfors where we intend to have a look at several properties for sale. All of these turn out to be disappointments except for the last, an old farmhouse with two big barns in the middle of the forest. We fall in love with it instantly and within a few days the deal is made. We have found what we were looking for: our own peaceful place in the woods.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

To start with ...

Welcome to this website.

My name is Ben Heerland, born in The Netherlands in 1962. In May 2005 my wife Nicôle, born in 1971, and I gave up our successful but demanding careers and emigrated from The Netherlands to Sweden. We burned our bridges, left all security behind and moved from a comfortable new home to an old farmhouse in the Swedish woods. And before I forget, 'we' also includes our beloved German Shepherd, Jeanny, born in 2003.

Longing for a quiet place of our own in natural surroundings, we had been contemplating changing our lives for many years. But we always talked about it in a 'one day ...' kind of way. Then, in a short period of time, a number of dreadful events occurred around us. These made us realize that life is short and that just talking about something leads you nowhere. If you really want to make a change, no matter how or in which way, you must not just talk about it but actually do it.

And that is what we did. We found our own peaceful place in the woods, where we have been living for almost six years now. During this time we have not only learned to appreciate our new way of life, but have also changed more radically than we ever imagined possible.

No more cunning career planning, company car and pension plan. No more having to be Number One. No more wardrobe full of dress shirts and tailor-made suits. No more stress of 'needing' to have the hottest cell phone, laptop, iPod, iPad or whatever. And most important of all: no more buying, buying and buying, just for the sake of buying.

Now we do what we really love. Living in natural surroundings and enjoying every minute of it. And trying to share this joy with others through writing about everything we experience. We have been blogging since 2005 and have also written three books until today. All in Dutch, our mother tongue.

... And now it is time for something new. We are starting a blog in English where we hope to reach many more enthusiastic readers. This post is the first step and we will see what it leads to.

What will we be writing about? Just take a look at the categories-menu to the right. Or even better, visit this blog again and find out by reading our posts. Over the next few days I'll be writing some more posts introducing ourselves further.

Thank you for reading so far. We hope that you'll come back to read some more.