# DAY 2 OF PROJECT CINLOC

A daily blog about building a new boutique hotel on Gili Air

Let’s embrace the journey, one step at a time. A couple of days ago we started to demolish our house. Our boys and the workers are moving quickly and the roof is almost completely gone. I admire them for their courage. Although it’s not an easy job they are smiling and joking all day.

I’m so grateful that we are surrounded by our boys. Their cheerfulness is contagious. And they always try to make me smile when they see I’m sad (even on the days where I try to hide it from them).

I’ve tried several times to imagine how Villa Nangka would look like if our house would be completely gone but I just can’t picture it. But they say sometimes the best thing you can do is not to think, not wonder, not imagine, and not obsess. Just breathe and have faith everything will work out for the best. Sounds like a good plan to me.

Love Rose

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# DAY 1 OF PROJECT CINLOC

a daily blog about building a new hotel on Gili Air

If it happens on social media it’s really happening! With proud I introduce you to the team of project CINLOC*.

At the moment everything looks like a big fat mess, and yeah, it often feels like things might crash and burn at any moment. But I realized there’s a hidden beauty in the ugly duckling phase; I need to accept that the messy beginning phase of project CINLOC is necessary (or even mandatory). Every project I did in my life started out with a hideous mess of disjointed ideas, thoughts, sketches, and assumptions and I guess project CINLOC will not be any different.

As soon as I realized this I’m able to look at it from a completely different angle. Now I can embrace the ugly phase, and I’m trying to use it to my advantage to create without criticism or judgment.

The start of a big project likes this means making changes quickly and without hesitation. It means throwing away hours of work that no longer serve the greater good of our project. And it wasn’t until I made the big shift in how I defined the success of project CINLOC that I began to understand and embrace that my ugly ducklings could quickly become majestic and powerful mallards!

Love Rose

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# DAY 50 AFTER THE EARTHQUAKE

A new beginning

Today it’s exactly 50 days ago that a 7.0 devastating earthquake hit Lombok and the Gili Islands. Fifty days where I felt every emotion that a person can possible feel. Fifty days where I was confronted by a million questions that pushed me to find important answers. Fifty days filled with love from my family, friends and complete strangers.

You were there when I was at my absolute worst and needed someone to pick me up off the floor where I’ve been laying because I’ve felt like I couldn’t get up on my own. I’ve never experienced a love as big as in the last fifty days. A love that is so powerful and true that you can’t escape it. Thank you for everyone that reached out to us. Sometimes one little message is all you need to put your one foot in front of the other.

Sometimes endings force you to find new beginnings

The last fifty days has also been a slow and painful process of saying a bittersweet goodbye. Every day that passes by another piece of the Old Villa Nangka disappears. But it’s okay, I accepted what happened and right now I’m breathing in the hope for tomorrow. Today is day #50 and I can feel that today is the perfect day to turn the page and start writing the chapter of the New Villa Nangka. Because with every ending, something new comes along. And with every great ending, comes an even greater beginning.

Let me introduce to you project CINLOC

We are had a meeting with an architect from Jakarta to discuss the future of Villa Nangka. At one point she asked me: “Where did you and your Sunshine meet each other?” I pointed out the big Nangka tree in the middle of our property and said with a smile on my face: “We met right here.” She started laughing and said: “CINLOC!” I looked at her confused as I never heard of this word before. She started to explain it: “The word ‘Cinta’ means love in Bahasa Indonesia and the word ‘Locasi’ means location. When you put these two words together you get ‘Cinloc’ which literally means ‘love on location’.” I immediately fell in love with this words and we decided to call the rebuilding of our little paradise project CINLOC.

Join us on our journey

Today I draw a line. Instead of counting the days after the earthquake I will start counting the days of project CINLOC. Every day that passes by we are one step closer of reopening Villa Nangka. I invite you to join us on our journey. It will be a long process that requires perseverance, strength of character, and most of all: heart. To know that we are not alone and we have you cheering for us until we reach the finish line of this marathon is priceless. It’s time to leave behind what we know and believe something even better will be waiting for us. And although that ‘something’ is not entirely clear at this point I’m sure we are going to achieve it.

Love Rose

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# DAY 47 AFTER THE EARTHQUAKE

Trauma healing classes on Gili Air

In the past four weeks we have been visiting the school every Saturday. We focus on trauma healing and natural disaster education to the children of our Club Harapan. We sang their favorite songs, did different relaxation / breathing exercises and danced like no one was watching. Furthermore we organized a hugging contest, made drawings with them of their beautiful island and spent time on positive self-talk (“you are so brave & strong, you are a true earthquake hero”).

The kids are very happy to go back to school. Which doesn’t surprise me. It’s much more fun playing with your friends than sitting at ‘home’. I would say 95% of them are in very good spirits however 5% of them is still much traumatized.

Do what you love most

And while I watch the children laugh and play I wonder: when did we decide that it was OK to put up with things that don’t make us insanely happy? Since when did it become acceptable to just settle? Children spend their days doing what they love most, and they do it with passion. They play their hearts out on the soccer field and in the playground. They spend their time with the people they truly love. A child does not waste their time on things that don’t make them feel truly happy inside. They find those specific things or people who really make their hearts skip, and they love that with all their might. I can learn so much from them.

Welcome back to school celebration

We asked the structural engineer that we hired to check the buildings from Villa Nangka to check the school as well. His opinion was quickly formed and exactly what we are hoping for: “There are a few minor cracks but the classrooms are safe.” Unfortunately, our activities are still inside in a tent as the children are too scared of being inside a classroom. To let them feel that their school is a fun and safe place we needed to do something. We started planning our “Welcome Back to School Celebration”. An event from students, by students, and for the students.

Kids are naturally inclined to do what’s fun. Sometimes as adults life gets a little hectic and we take ourselves way too seriously. Let go and remember that life is meant to enjoy. It is meant to love and it is our lifelong goal to be as happy as we possibly can.

Love Rose

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# DAY 45 AFTER THE EARTHQUAKE

The boat is removing trash from Gili Air

From the time I was a child, I wanted to do everything all on my own. “I’ll do it,” was my constant refrain, pushing away helping hands and generous offers with my young, eager fingers.

But here’s the thing about looking at life in this light: the illusion of complete independence breaks down at some point. Because when you’re younger, you think you’re doing it all alone, but you aren’t. Maybe you didn’t realize it at the time but most likely either your parents, or your neighbors, or your classmates, or your siblings were helping you and watching over you.

A perfect example of amazing teamwork

I think it’s important that you learn the skill teamwork from a young age. Because it’s important in the adult world. Because it’s necessary. Because it’s a skill that you need in order to survive. You scoff those words off as a child. But the older you get, the more you realize just how true they are.

It’s not within our human nature to be capable of tackling every problem, every situation, and every dilemma we come across entirely on our own. It doesn’t matter how strong, smart, capable, confident or successful you are. We need each other. We were built to work together, to struggle together, and to help each other move toward solutions and come out on the other side united.

The last two days are the perfect example of amazing teamwork. Together, as one community, we cleaned approximately 11.000 kg of rubbish! Gili Air has never been more beautiful and I’m incredible proud to call this magical island my home.

Love Rose

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# DAY 44 AFTER THE EARTHQUAKE

Island Clean Up

When a big natural disaster happens hits a small island a lot of things stop working. Luckily by now we have almost everything up and running again. The whole island has electricity, we have fresh water and more than 70% – 80% of the businesses are open again.

One of the things that still needed to take care off was the rubbish. For a while there was no trash collection and it got to the point where it got really bad. Imagine how bad the smell gets when trash has been standing in the sun for 4 or 5 weeks. Together with our staff we have been doing several clean ups and although we live on a small island, 10 pair of hands was by far not enough to take care of all the rubbish. Something had to be done.

Yesterday there was a meeting with the head of the 3 islands. He promised us that he will help us with organizing the boats to bring the rubbish to the mainland if we could help him with the manpower. We started spreading the word and messaging our friends. Slowly slowly the ball started rolling and by the end of the day 18 businesses signed up to help.

The biggest clean up in the history of Gili Air

This morning I wasn’t sure what to expect. Would all those 18 businesses that promised to come and help actually rock up? When I arrived at the trash dump with my boys I couldn’t believe my eyes; there were people coming from everywhere! All with gloves on their hands and big smiles on their faces.

I have seen the word #gilistrong more than a thousand times in the last weeks but this morning I could feel it! More than 200 people got together this morning to start cleaning the rubbish. In a bit over 2 hours we removed 700 bags of rubbish which equals around 6000 kg!! It took two boats to transport it all to Lombok. It was more than amazing to see EVERYONE working together to keep our beautiful island clean. We made a great start this morning but the job is not done yet. That’s why we do it again tomorrow!

Your life is your message to the world make sure its inspiring

I believe you can change the world by being kind to everyone you encounter, regardless of their skin color, race, religious beliefs and social or economic status. You change the world by doing the right thing and being yourself. You change the world by standing tall in what you believe in and supporting that cause. You do what is right, you don’t act with violence or out of anger, and you act with kindness and with love in your heart.

You change the world by dedicating time to find out who you are and what you believe in. Do what is best for you, don’t be influenced by other’s decisions, find your thing and make your mark. Do not let the world change you. Do not allow anyone to change how you feel. Do not become hard. Treasure your softness. It’s what makes you incredible.

Love Rose

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# DAY 40 AFTER THE EARTHQUAKE

damaged house after earthquake on Gili Air

I thought everything would be over and go back to ‘normal’ as soon as the earthquakes would stop. Little did I know that the real fight would start as soon as the ground would stop shaking. After the initial shock wears off, and you’re left with almost nothing – where do you start? Everyone is talking about the time “where things go back to normal”. Slowly I realize that for us there is no going back to how things were. The old Villa Nangka is gone and it will never come back.

My smile is a symbol of hope & strength

Where businesses start welcoming the first tourists again and people start repairing the cracks in their houses our world is standing still. I find it very confronting to see that people are re-opening their business and go back to work. Some people are telling me I shouldn’t be sad as I have the opportunity to design a whole new place and it will only be better. On some kind of rational level I know they might be right but I don’t want to hear it right now. You don’t get to choose how I feel. And just because you see me smiling doesn’t mean I’m not sad. Maybe my smile is a symbol of hope and strength.

A few days ago we started to take down our beautiful Pool Villa. It was the first house we designed and build ourselves. It was a crazy beautiful ride were we learned so much. I remember how incredible proud we were when we welcomed the first guests, just over a year ago. This villa and her belongings tell the story of who we are, where we’ve been, and the guests we hosted. To see my boys taking it down breaks my heart.

The sun doesn’t apologize for the days it hides behind the clouds

While I try to keep my head high, I trip and fall in a black hole. For a few days I keep walking in circles and try to find the exit. I don’t want to be sad, I don’t want to complain, I don’t want to cry but I can’t help it. I find it incredible hard to say goodbye to Villa Nangka as I knew it.

But then my Sunshine made me realize, the sun doesn’t apologize for the days it hides behind the clouds, it’s okay to be sad. I allow myself these days where it feels where the world is standing still and I grief.

It’s time to say goodbey

Today I woke up and I realize that the only way forward is by saying goodbye and leaving behind everything that I’ve known for so long. It’s terrifying and lonely and exciting and more than I ever thought it would be. And I remember what my good friend told me last week when we were sitting on the beach together: Just keep going, one day at a time and one foot in front of the other. You don’t have to know where you’re going. You don’t have to have a plan. You don’t have to have a to-do list already set in motion. Work on rebuilding yourself from the ground up, and focus on what you need right now.

Today I can feel it: It’s time to say goodbye to the Old Villa Nangka and start opening the doors to a New Villa Nangka. And I think I’m ready… 

Love Rose

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# DAY 39 AFTER THE EARTHQUAKE

girls on the beach having fun

It’s kind of shocking when your world falls to pieces and everything and everyone around you carries on with life. How is it possible that the birds continue to sing? How can people carry on loving life? The days after my miscarriage I felt like I became frozen in time and I was watching my life like a movie. But slowly slowly my life becomes more real again.
I always considered myself to be the type of person who could make it through anything. Yet this experience has allowed me to discover a new degree of mental and emotional strength that I could have never imagined to be possible.

Break the cycle of #silentsisterhood

A few days after my miscarriage I wrote down our story. I wanted to break the cycle of #silentsisterhood and create a world where woman feel comfortable sharing their experience and a miscarriage is no longer a taboo subject. I showed it to my Sushine and asked him: “do you think I should publish it?” Immediate he replied without hesitation: “yes you should, I think it’s beautiful and very brave. Don’t be scared, you will be surprised.”
The next day I woke up and checked my phone. I couldn’t believe it, my inbox was full of message of friends and complete strangers from all over the world that were all saying the same: you are not alone, it happened to me too. Another life lesson learned: if you show your vulnerability most likely others feel comfortable enough to do the same.

Thank you so much to everyone who reached out to us in these dark days. Knowing that we were not alone brought us enormous comfort and strength. The pain will pass, the sun will rise again and there will be a day somewhere in the near future with no more tears.

Friends are the best medicine

My friends and my Sunshine are the best medicine for my wounded heart and the vitamins for my hopeful soul. I always knew that I have the most incredible friends in the whole universe but in the last week even I got surprised by their awesomeness. When we came home the other night Andreas asks me: “Did you see the flowers on the table?” I’m confused by his question, what is he talking about? I walk to our field kitchen and find a huge bouquet of flowers with a little note next to it:

Dear Rosie, these beautiful flowers are here to let you know that I’m thinking of you. You are my sweet sister, my rockstar! I might be far away but you are always in my thoughts. I promise you, everything will be alright. Love you, Mieke

I have tears in my eyes and a smile on my face and feel so confused. How is it even possible that I find a note of one of my best friends that lives on the other side of the world on my kitchen table?

I look at my Sunhine, he couldn’t have done this, he was with me the whole evening. How did Mieke arrange this, she doesn’t even know anyone on this island! It turns out that she send a message to our business partner in crime Oceans5 to ask if they can help her to put fresh flowers in our camp with little note of love.

A blanket of love

There is nothing more powerful than an outstretched hand of another woman in your direction. I’m so grateful that I these types of soulful connections; they keep me grounded and feeling supported. Two of my best friends came to visit me last week. I know how busy their lives are and that they made the effort to come from Bali and all the way Sulawesi meant the world to me. It felt so good to have them so close to me and to hold their hand and cry and laugh together.

Your donation really makes a difference!

Before I continue my day in our little broken paradise I want to take another moment to thank everyone who donated to our campaign. On the 1st of September we paid all our boys their salaries. It was incredible to see the look on their faces. Herman for example, who lost his house and is living in a refugee camp, couldn’t believe it when we told him he would receive a full salary. “Boss I don’t understand, why do I get so much money, because many days I don’t come to work this month?” We explained to him that our friends, family and complete strangers are supporting him and that they made sure that, although Villa Nangka is closed, he will still get a salary. With tears in his eyes he accepted his envelop.

There are no words that can describe the big impact that a donation can have on someone his life. We don’t live in a perfect world, and there’s never going to be a perfect time to give—but there are so many people out there in need of help. Don’t just think of your cash donation from a western economic perspective. You don’t need $10,000 to make a difference in someone’s life. Here in Indonesia $10 goes a long way.

Love Rose

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# DAY 30 AFTER THE EARTHQUAKE

miscarriage

Why did I turn quiet and stopped writing? As I sit here typing this I am wondering if this is something that I actually want to share. Will people judge me for sharing my story because they believe that this is something that should be kept private? But this thought is exactly what pushes me to keep typing. Why are we only sharing the positives and why is it still taboo to talk about certain things?
Of course we need the positives, but we must open our minds and hearts to start sharing our sadness, heartache, and failures. I strongly believe that we can help others grow, overcome, and become reborn through shared experience. So here is my story….

# DAY 18 AFTER THE EARTHQUAKE

My Sunshine and I have been trying for a while to have children. Two weeks after the earthquake I was supposed to get my period but aunt Flo never knocked on my door. It is 5 AM in the morning and I can’t sleep anymore. I still didn’t get my period and my mind starts wondering; how crazy would it be if it actually worked this time? When we had our first talk about children Andreas told me he wanted to wait till we official owned our land, build our own house and the business would be running smoothly. And here we are; our house is completely destroyed, we need to close our businesses for an unknown period of time and we are sleeping in a field.

Holy shit I am pregnant !

I can’t control my curiosity anymore and sneak out of bed. I do a pregnancy test and quickly one stripe appears; which means the test is negative. Although I kind of knew already I’m still a bit sad. I’m about to throw the test in the bin but suddenly I hear this little voice in my head: “maybe you should check one more time before you throw it away.”
I can’t believe my eyes… a second stripe is appearing and now there are two stripes. I am in shock and keep starring at the stick. Holy shit I am pregnant! There is a tiny little organism growing inside me and it’s going to turn into a person– half me, half my Sunshine. I have the biggest smile stretched across my face.

I started calculating and quickly realize it’s conceived the day of the earthquake and suddenly I remember that I whispered a stupid joke in his ear that night “I think it worked this time darling, you literally made the whole shake.”
I tell my Sunshine as soon as he gets up and we laugh and smile all day and can’t believe that something so beautiful came out of this devastating earthquake. It gives us exactly what we need in this moment; strength, motivation and hope for the future.

# DAY 27 AFTER THE EARTHQUAKE

I wake up at 6 AM and don’t feel good. I’ve been losing blood since two days and I’m really worried. I would love to stay in bed today but today is the day we do our first trauma healing class for the kids. Something that I have been looking forward to the whole week. I put on some clothes, grab some motivation and jump on my bike. It’s awesome to see the kids again and I can’t believe that after everything they have been through they are still smiling
 
As soon as I’m back home the cramps get worse and I immediately know: this is it. I’m lying in bed and I’m terrified. Not for what is about to happen as I don’t even have an idea what to expect, but for my own reaction when it would happen. We’ve been through so much in the last month; we survived an earthquake and more than 867 aftershocks, we lost our house and our business. Would I be able to handle a miscarriage on top of that?

We are so much stronger than we think we are

You always imagine the happy parts you hope your future will hold. You never imagine the ones that rip your heart out. But as soon as it happens I figure out that another cliché is true: we humans are so much stronger than we think we are. My Sunshine is right next to me and I’m grateful that I don’t have to get through this alone.

We’ve told some of our closest friends and family that I was pregnant. I didn’t mind people knowing because I knew if something went wrong I would need a support system. And, well, I didn’t think anything would actually go wrong. When it did I was so very glad for the people in my life. In the midst of heartache I had never known, I also felt like I had won the friend and family lottery.

In the days that follow and I’m talking to friends and research the internet I make a bizarre discovery: around 25% of all pregnancies ends in a miscarriage but no one really talks about it. I even figured out that two of my best friends had a miscarriage but never told anyone.

Why are woman keeping their miscarriage a secret? 

Why is it a taboo to talk about a miscarriage? Ad why don’t we know what to say someone who experienced a miscarriage? I’m certain that everyone who goes through a miscarriage experiences the loss differently. If I had to guess though, I’d say most women (and men) find it really, really fucking difficult. The whole experience would have been so much easier for me if I would have known what to expect and if I would have known that it happened to so many people around me.

What to say to someone who had a miscarriage?

I don’t have the answer to that question. Everyone is different. For me, the important thing is to say something. Almost anything. As long as they’re meant in sympathy, any sort of words, in some sort of order, are likely to be helpful. For all of you who are desperately afraid of saying the wrong thing, of making it worse, of reaching for a cliché, let me tell you this: something is better than nothing.

I also think it’s a bit unfair to expect people to know exactly what I’m going through or what to say because miscarriage just isn’t a mainstream conversation. And the only way this is going to change is if people start talking about it. If you don’t know what to say or what might help – ask. Before I had a miscarriage, I honestly didn’t have a clue. I had no idea, for example, that a miscarriage could be silent or ‘missed’. Or that it could require surgery. So ask how someone feels. Ask if they want to talk about it (they might say no, fair enough). Ask about what you don’t understand. Otherwise, nothing will change.

Life is a miracle

Heartbroken and confused, my pregnancy symptoms left me, one-by-one, and they sure didn’t fail to take a piece of my heart every time they decided to disappear. The days pass by and I feel a bit better every day and my soul is healing. I am grateful to know that I can get pregnant. I am grateful that – even for that small amount of time – I got to experience being pregnant and the joy that comes with that. I’m grateful that I’m still standing feeling strong and healthy.

I experienced more than ever that life is a miracle. It’s all out of our control, whether someone lives or dies. Cherish every moment you live, and be thankful for every second you have with your loved ones. You never know how long you will have with them, and every moment is as important as the last. Even if you only have about seven weeks with them.

It’s time to break the cycle of #silentsisterhood

So here’s to SHARING our stories. Showing our strength and telling our tales. Here’s to loss and what could have been. And here’s to hope. I hope that by my sharing my story at least one woman in this world feels that she is not alone. I would like to tell her: Stay strong. You’ll get through this. That, I can promise.

I hope that by sharing my story I inspire others to do the same. And if you don’t feel comfortable sharing it on social media (which I completely understand as I’m terrified to publish this post) share it at least with your best friends. Let’s break the cycle of #silentsisterhood and create a world where woman feel comfortable sharing their experience and a miscarriage is no longer a taboo subject.

Love Rose

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# DAY 25 AFTER THE EARTHQUAKE

Best friends hugging each other

The last 2 days have been really hard. I feel sad and lost and have no motivation to do anything. The sun is shining but the world feels like a dark place. And the most frustrating things is it doesn’t matter what I do, the feeling doesn’t go away. I have a hot shower, go for a long walk on the beach, make myself a nice breakfast, and listen to my favorite music. None of it helps.

One of my best friends came to visit me yesterday from Bali. I felt so many emotions when I picked her up from the harbor. She holds me tight and I feel the tears coming. She makes me feel safe. Although she wasn’t here when the earthquakes happened, I don’t have to explain to her how I feel, I know she knows without me saying a word.

 A 

We walked together to Villa Nangka and I see the island through her eyes. It’s like we are walking in a Hollywood film set where the actors are on their lunch break. The streets are empty and the shops are closed. I show her around and we visit the village opposite of Villa Nangka where she used to live. Almost all the houses in this village are destroyed. We sit down and I started talking to the lovely woman that runs the little warung (small restaurant) in the harbor next to Oceans5 Dive Resort. I always call her ‘mama’ and she always calls me ‘little one’. I take her hand into my hand and look into her eyes; her sparkle is gone and has been replaced by emptiness and helplessness.

She asks me: “Is your house also broken little one?” I nod my head. What about your villa’s she asks? I tell her that they are also all broken. She looks confused and finds it hard to believe that apparently an earthquake doesn’t distinguish between race, age or gender but that it can hit all of us.

Home sweet home

Why is a place you can call home so important to us? Because for better or worse, by presence or absence, it is a crucial point of reference—in memory, feeling, and imagination—for inventing the story of ourselves, for understanding our place in time. For most of us home is a place where we can go back to, where we feel safe. In the last days I realized that not having a home, a place to go back to, is one of the things that I find the hardest these days.

Although many of my friends offered me their home, it’s not the same. Their home doesn’t have my favorite books, my pillows, my clothes, my pictures. Their home doesn’t smell like my home. Their home doesn’t feel like my home. For me it’s not about the material things, it’s about the place that I created. A place where you I can hide when nothing else makes sense. A place which is an extension of my personality and where everything has a fixed place. I hate it that I constantly need to search for the most simple things as everywhere it’s a mess.

Letting go

If I had to describe my own character I would definitely use the words ‘control freak’ and ‘perfectionist’ (and of course ‘smart’ and ‘funny’). Yesterday we moved the office of the Gili Shark Conservation Project to one of the classrooms of our partner in crime: Oceans 5 Dive Center and today we will go to Begadang to prepare the new accommodation for the volunteers. It feels weird. One side of me is extremely happy and grateful that, with the help of our friends, we can still continue our research and help the community to rebuild their lives. And on the other side I feel sad that I can’t welcome the new volunteers, who are arriving this weekend, in my ‘home’.

The volunteers are normally doing 2 research dives in the morning and return to Villa Nangka around lunch time. I love the moment where I’m standing in the kitchen, preparing lunch for my Sunshine and me, and the volunteers walk in. Always with big smiles, sparkly eyes and full of stories. I need to let go and trust that others will put the same energy and love in looking after our volunteers as I normally do. Not so easy for the funny, smart perfectionist. I know I can’t control everything. So I decided to relax and have faith that everything will work out.

Love Rose

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