Searching for my SoulShine in Spain
“Why Spain?” This question is often asked of me. Typically, I give a simple answer, something like, “I’ve always wanted to live abroad…” or “Just to try something new and different…” and often, “It was time to shake things up a bit…” All of these answers are true, although never answering with the full story.
2016 was a challenging year, to put it lightly. The events of 2016 set in motion life-altering decisions that would propel me into a new life, a life that was so different from the one I worked so hard to create. Within the span of six months, three very important people in my life left this world…my sister, my mentor, and my dad. Grief is a funny thing. It changes and morphs into so many different feelings and emotions, it is difficult to really understand and grasp. It never really goes away, it just becomes different.
Ultimately, in January of 2017, with the support of countless friends and family, I took a leave of absence for three months. This in itself was a challenge, as having worked in my current position for 17 years, my job was part of my identity. I knew it was necessary though, as I needed to fix me. After about two weeks of doing nothing but stare at my walls, I knew the exact day I was ready to start dealing with life and making changes. I drove myself to an office supply store and bought the largest wall calendar I could find. I put it on my wall and wrote down everything I needed to accomplish each day and I started to track my days. Anyone who knows me well knows I am obsessive about making lists and checking off to-do’s is a must. These few months were a lot of hard work, sweat and tears (literally), doctor appointments, healthy food, boot camp and yoga, fighting with insomnia, and counseling sessions. All of this hard work along with the love and support of my family and friends, I eventually become a better version of my former self.
By April, I needed to decide if I wanted to return to my job or say goodbye. One day I googled “teaching jobs in Europe”…I came across information about a program in which I could teach English in Spain, earn a living salary with health insurance (I am obsessive about health insurance), work way fewer hours and be granted a visa all the while living in Europe. I knew I was way overqualified for this job, being an assistant position, yet that did not matter to me. I would still be teaching and have very little responsibility, which sounded like a perfect combination.
My decision was made. I sold my townhouse and most of my belongings, and spent the next few months saying goodbye to life in the USA. I found a stateside company, basically a 3rd party agency that assisted me with the process of teaching abroad. I paid a hefty sum of money in exchange for assistance with the visa process (a daunting task), securing a teaching placement, one month of Spanish school and a host family to live with during my first month abroad. This gave me a month to acclimate to my new surroundings, learn a bit of Spanish (ummmm, still a work in progress!), and take care of all those necessary tasks of setting up a new life abroad – phone, apartment, Spanish bank account, internet, etc. (First month in Spain blogpost coming soon…)
Fast forward almost three years! I have now lived in two charming Spanish towns, explored Spain and beyond during my long weekends and holidays, entertained countless family and friends, and most importantly I have fallen in love with Spain.
“Why Spain?” they ask. Now I answer with a twinkle in my eye, a happy heart, and a smile, “Oh, just searching for a little Spanish SoulShine.”