Reflections on our journey and life lessons

Where to begin?
That’s a question I asked myself several times the last week. So, I postponed the writing each day, hoping I would somehow find the right words later. I realize now there is not an exact point to start, so much has happened that it is even impossible to just write that down in one blog. Of course, many of you followed our stories and pictures each day, which was wonderful, it was pure joy to read your comments,  but that was just a part of what we’ve experienced.
What I didn’t share is that I didn’t felt so great in the house that I rented. Not that the place wasn’t good, it was a lovely house, at a beautiful location, and with very heartwarming people. It was more a personal matter, something I wish not to write about it at the moment. Maybe one day, I don’t know yet.
A consequence of this was that I couldn’t reach my heart anymore and that was a complete surprise to me and also very hard because my heart is my guide in life. And, as many of you know, also Belle is a very important part of my heart and the most-valuable guide ever. I thought that, once in Portugal, I would feel less pain missing her physically by my side, but it turned out to be much worse. It taught me a meaningful lesson, that instead of ‘running away’ from all the memories at home, to be able to experience all those memories at the place where you made them together is an amazing gift to treasure every day, here at the exact same spot where we lived together.

I’ve seen a lot of signs that Belle gave me during our stay in Portugal. Some examples; at a moment where I was very emotional, missing her so much, a little bird came by the window of the door, landed on the little ridge of the window pane, and sang a lovely song.
Once I was driving back to the rented house, the sky was dark with grey clouds everywhere. I was doubting if to go back to the place where I didn’t feel well, when suddenly the sky broke open and bright rays of light shone down exactly at the spot where our destination was. Another time, I was walking with Emi and Kintana, a memory of Belle came to my mind which caused a deep heartache. I looked at the sky and a big heart-shaped cloud was there, with on both sides the wings of an angel. And so many more, some I prefer to keep for myself, between Belle and me.

One of the hardest parts during our stay was the loss of our dearly beloved horse Joy. That moment when Robert and I had to decide that we had to let her go, and I wasn’t able to be physically there, for Robert, for Joy, for the others, was heartbreaking. No more words to write about that… An old picture of Joy and me, this one was made about 12 years ago! Beautiful memories:


As for the search for a property for our family, we didn’t find one yet. I’ve seen a lot of properties and I also drove to a lot of regions to just see and feel if it would be the right environment for us to live. I couldn’t find it. Remember that I couldn’t reach my normal intuition, so it was not so easy to determine how it felt. But maybe it also told me a lot, that this wasn’t the right region for us. I don’t know for sure yet, I just need time to let it all sink in.

The funny thing is that there is one little dog that led me to another country and that is Cloudman. And I know for sure that another little dog, our warrior angel, led me to him.
While driving to Cloudman, which was from the west coast of Portugal to the east coast of Spain I was in awe of the beauty of nature there. Where in some parts of the Alentejo I got a sort of suffocating feeling by all the mountains everywhere around me, here I saw more flat areas with every time another mountain or mountain chain in sight again. I loved that! I learned that I love hilly landscapes but I need to have a nice and clear view too. Besides that, I discovered that the east coast of Spain is quite interesting, feeling the even warmer temperatures there.

So, what has brought this big journey to us?
Of course, it was an amazing adventure, we’ve traveled through 4 very different countries and we’ve seen a lot. We met lots of wonderful people and friends, and made beautiful and special connections. We’ve seen and felt such pure and magical places, where nature touched our hearts in the most breathtaking ways.


We’ve learned a lot about what we want with our search and what we don’t want. We learned a lot about properties and land for sale, about the different regions, the people and culture, and the climate.

Although we didn’t found our dream place yet, which I didn’t expect to happen so fast (but you never know of course), it brought us a lot of experiences and information. Robert and I decided to take a little break now, for me to get lots of rest because the whole journey had a big impact on me, and for us together to think and feel more about our next steps.
In the meantime, we will, of course, continue with Little Belle her magical sanctuary here:

I will write and share more about our life here with all the dogs. There is also a very special event coming in memory of Little Belle, the magical birthday auction, where we also need your help! See:
So, lots of work to do!

I would like to thank all of you for your beautiful support along our journey, that meant, and still means, a lot to us. There were also friends that supported us with a donation, which was really amazing and touched our hearts deeply. Thank you so much! Little Belle will smile in heaven and in our hearts knowing and feeling that she and her family are surrounded by such wonderful friends.

I think it’s already pretty obvious that I am very happy to be home again. I’m sitting behind my desk, in Little Belle her special corner, with the countless gifts you gave to her and to us, in her memory. All the dogs are close to me, resting in their own beds, or on the chairs or couches. Robert is attending a course today but will be home in a few hours. The horses are enjoying their hay outside and I can watch them through the windows, or later more closer when the dogs and I will go outside. Oh yes, it’s the best feeling ever to be home again!

Never ever, in any case not voluntary, will I leave home again for so long. Well, one thing is very clear, the best part of our journey was finding our little man Cloudman and bring him home! And one other part, for sure, the amazingly happy homecoming! While feeling my little angel by my side all the time… 

Written by Irene, Little Belle’s mom



  • Kris

    Lieve Irene,
    Ik kan me levendig voorstellen dat je je nu weer compleet voelt, nu je terug bij de laatste rustplaats van je liefste Engeltje,???Belleke bent…
    Zij blijft je voortdurend tekens en aanwijzingen geven, als de tijd er rij voor is, zal zij je ook wel de juiste ingevingen influisteren ????❤️❤️❤️❤️

  • Deb Keiser Rietmulder

    A simple saying says it all….”Home is where the heart is”.

  • Robert Sexton USN (Ret)

    Irene, you are so right, one can not run away from memories. When my wife passed away, I returned to the area that I grew up in. Everything was so hollow, there was no reality. True happiness returned when I returned to the home where we lived and loved.

  • Carolyn

    Thanks for sharing. At least you went and have an idea what is there? no need to rush into anything. The best part is that you found Cloudman. A saying from a movie, if you ever go looking for your hearts desires, look in your on backyard, because if its not there, you never lost it to begin with. Maybe another time Dear Irene❤

  • Terry Povlich

    Beautifully written Irene. Thanks for sharing. I admire you for venturing out on your own and for so long. Its not an easy thing to do. Warrior Little Belle guided you along the way. In the end home is where your heart is and there really is no place like home.

  • Françoise Vranken

    Dankjewel lieve Irene je diepe gevoelens zo met ons allen te delen. Queenie zal je altijd leiden, waar je ook gaat of bent. Sterkte lieve Irene. Liefs

  • Sharon Brooks...28th January 2018

    Beautifully written Irene, we have followed your journeys and shared in your dreams and with your guardian angel by your side, and with your beautiful family you returned to the place that means so much..home, and with a new member..Cloudman, I’m sure Little Belle knew in her wisdom how much you needed each know what they say..home is where the heart is, there’s no place like home, and what an amazing homecoming it was..your special angel will never be far from your side as you continue the journey of life..thankyou for sharing..God bless you, Robert and all your wonderful family..good luck with Little Belle’s magical birthday from the UK. XXX

  • Pauline

    Little Belle and family…Thank you for sharing your precious and marvelous journey with all of us…your description of the journey also describes our own . You inspire us to live, laugh and love and to never loose sight of what’s important in Life!

  • Ellen

    You are a warrior. You took on that trip with only the support of Belle, Kintana, Emi and Cloudman. You have such courage and it shines through in everything you say and do. You are one of my heroes and I’m glad you are there for all who need you.

  • Jacqui sanders

    Lieve Irene ❤ wat heb je het weer prachtig geschreven. Ik kreeg ook natte ogen van jou mooie verhaal. Het doet mij ook denken aan onze lieve Dribbeltje ❤ die een week na lieve little Belle naar de sterrenhemel is gegaan. Wij missen haar ook elke dag zoals het gemis van lieve Little Belle ❤ ik heb zoveel respect voor jou en lieve Robert wat jullie allemaal voor al jullie lieve dieren doen. Zoveel liefde en zorg. En respect dat jij jullie mooie verhalen willen delen. Ontzettend bedankt ???❤?❤?❤???

  • Marie Poirier

    Thank you for sharing Irene, that was a very loving story of your trip, Loved to hear all about your journey, hope to hear more about your journey. Love always <3 <3 <3

  • Rita Kleinman

    This was fascinating reading, and I wish you all the very best!

  • gail d redding

    The saying “distance makes the heart grow fonder” seems to apply here. MY husband and I lived apart for 7 months due to his being transfered and I couldn’t join him til I got transfered and our house sold. It’s not easy and makes you appreciate what you have. I know when the time is right all the pieces will fall into place and you will find your dream properties. Cloudman looks like he has quite the personality. Thanks for sharing your feelings in your blog. Rest and enjoy being home with all your furbabies, horses, and most importantly, Robert.

  • thivat olivia

    29 janvier
    je viens de tout lire avec application et je sais bien que partir n’est pas guérir, nos pensées nous suivent et arrivé sur place nous sommes confrontés aux présences …

  • Debbie

    It makes me cry! ?

  • Donna

    always in my thought ???
    home is where all your hearts are ♥️

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