Unfinished Business: Part I – The Cord

This is a piece on gratitude, decisions and how the universe handles unfinished business.

Not every cord can be severed. (c) Shepherd Hoodwin

Part I – The Cord
I walk along the beach and see the blue sky. Above me I hear the doves cry and the sound of the Atlantic crashing on the shore. I am so filled with gratitude. It is so easy to be grateful.
Well, you say, sure, it’s easy for you, who lives in such a place and have the freedom to walk along the beach in the morning, isn’t it? Here is my story.
Three weeks ago, I had no idea I would walk along any beach in the morning. Three weeks ago I had no home, I lived out of four suitcases with my husband and three little children, not knowing where we would be tomorrow. Three months ago I left everything I had behind to jump into the unknown.
One year ago I was still full-time employed as a consultant, living with my family in Uganda. Everything was paid for, our house, our schools, our health insurance, visa and all. Then I took a decision. I wanted to live on my own terms, have time for my children, a place to settle down, be closer to my and my husband’s families. And I wanted to do what has given me the greatest sense of fulfillment for a long time. I wanted to do full-time what I love. I wanted to help women find and listen to their inner voice, that great powerful hum of confidence and love they have within them.

Residue of a friendship

I began to study NeuroLinguistic Programming (NLP) and became a certified Practitioner. That was when I began to look at some unfinished business. One of them was particularly sticky. Surprisingly, it was one that didn’t seem to affect my life much at the time. No trauma, no childhood wound. And yet, it had been with me for a long time. A great friendship that had ended in a bitter divorce. We had worked together in Brazil, when I was an advisor to the Brazilian Rubbertappers’ Movement. We had been incredibly close, laughing, crying, working, eating, living together.
All those years following our breakup I knew my reaction to what had happened had been very radical. Too much ego. I had shut her out of my life completely. Except she stayed with me. During one of the NLP sessions I tried to visualize cutting the cord between us. It didn’t work. That’s when I accepted that this cord was not to be cut. I didn’t know what else to do with it, so I left it hanging where it was and trusted that life had a destiny for this.
During the same time I trained in NLP, my husband and I sat down to decide where to go. We settled on Portugal without any one of us knowing the country, let alone anyone living there. The Northern part seemed more likely to have some green and forest – tribute to my husband’s origin in the Amazon – so we decided to try our luck there. Coimbra, we said, should be the city of our arrival. It could have been any city; we didn’t know anything about Coimbra, but I checked out some pictures on the internet and the children liked what they saw. From there, we said, we’d check out other places.


We left Kampala in June. We sold a lot and gave even more away. We took our three girls and five suitcases and began the journey. My savings were little, my last paycheck came in August. I had just begun to build up my own business. My children had no school. All we had was in those five suitcases.
We visited my family in Germany in July. In August we went to our home in the Amazon to fill our hearts with the green spirit of life. At the time I didn’t think about Portugal, because I wasn’t there yet.
When it was time to go to Portugal, my husband said: guess, who’s living in Coimbra? He had loosely maintained contact with that lost friend of mine from Brazil. She had taken up her very own journey over the last ten years and ended up doing her Ph.D. in Portugal. University of Coimbra. When he mentioned that we were going to Coimbra, she arranged a room for us in the Casa da Sagrada Familia, a sister-run home. It would have never crossed my mind to look for accommodation there; I guess I would have tried AirBnB or something to that end.

Picking up unfinished business

The Casa da Sagrada Familia was the perfect place for us to begin our time in Portugal. The sisters received us with such warmth that the girls immediately felt at home. Every day, they would have their s’pinha (soup, which for Brazilian ears sounds like fish bones). It was the safe, warm, welcoming place they needed. And my friend was there. We cried, we laughed, we talked, we forgave, we forged our ties stronger and thicker than ever before.
We discovered that for all the differences in our lives, all the turns and twists our lives have taken, we walk on the same path and we have a lot to walk together.
The cord pulled us back together again.

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