Some of you might know that we have a guesthouse that we rent out. Initially we designed it for our family in Spain and friends when visiting. But since we did our best to make it a nice place, we’ve been renting it out as well. The past 2,5 years have been amazing, we never ever imagined so many people would want to come and stay here. Really. It has been such a nice surprise. We love hosting people, families, group of friends, solo travelers and share this place that we call home.

We were both born and raised in this village. It was the former farm of Willems grandfather Hein, hence the name ‘bij Hein’. Renovations took about three years and when the old barn couldn’t be saved, we redesigned it to be a modern multifunctional barn house with our office, a guesthouse and storage room.

It was actually Jacksons Usher diagnosis that brought us back home. We were happy living in Belgium, but we found that the care he needed, and specifically the possibilities for (special) schooling were better in The Netherlands. So, at 43 I found myself moving back to the quiet little rural village that I swore I would never go back to. Life, ain’t it funny?

You know what’s also funny? How at first you think a diagnosis like Usher is going to turn your life upside down, and it does. It’s not what you had in mind, this was not how things were supposed to go. You are grieving the dreams you had, the future you envisioned. Our future took a different turn. I quit my job, we moved. But this guesthouse. This place. The possibilities. The people we meet. The people Jackson gets to meet.

Since day one we’ve been welcoming Usher families. Our extended Usher family was always in our minds when designing the guesthouse. How wonderful would it be to have other families coming over and spending time with us? Parents sharing experiences, kids playing together. Connections made for a lifetime, that’s what we hoped for. The value of a network became clear to me already years ago, it’s one of the reasons why I created this blog, why I share our story on Instagram. But virtual connections are one thing, real life is where the magic happens.

I am so grateful for the families that made the effort to come and stay with us. For the laughs and the talks, for the hugs and the support. For the walks and the runs. The coffees, lunches, pizza nights, summer evenings and winter fires. This past week we had three Usher families from three different countries staying with us. The sun was out, the kids were having fun, it just filled up my heart. I am thankful for my son Jackson. For his arrival set in motion a series of decisions that changed my life for the better.

I used to love my job in Public Relations, and it was hard to let go. But from PR to hospitality is not that far of a stretch. Ultimately, it’s still about people and their stories. And when those stories coincide, just like last week, I can honestly say: life isn’t fair, but it can still be fabulous.