Thursday, July 21, 2011

“Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.” Helen Keller

The view from my local running
trail in Hood River, Oregon
I love that quote. And I love feeling like I am adventurous. But what is it I am really feeling these days? Regret? No, that’s not the word. I definitely want to do this. Fear? Sure. Difficulty. Oh yes. Challenge? Guess that one fits best of all. I’ve always been one to enjoy a challenge, especially something physical. I’ve scaled mountains (Rainier, Adams, Kilimanjaro), I’ve done some serious long distance cycling (I’ve ridden from California to Florida, have cycled 200 miles in one day), I’ve run marathons (London and Portland). I’ve given natural childbirth twice for God’s sake (don’t talk to me about Pitocin). But this current life challenge is right up there. Moving to a foreign country where we know no one and don’t speak the language, with my family in tow. What was I thinking?
Horsetails Falls
(kids are behind the Falls)
The last few months have had their ups and downs. More downs than I care to admit being the eternal optimist that I am. Packing up a house of 17 years hasn’t been easy. Even though we’re leaving our furniture intact, going through mounds of our “stuff” has been a lesson in itself. “Less is more,” I’ve been teaching the boys. You don’t need things to make you happy. I know this is a facet of American culture but it’s one I could do without. I’ve never been happier than when travelling about, living out of a backpack, with a few bucks in my pocket and the world in front of me to explore. Now that it is 20 years later, and I have more people to think about than just myself, it’s not so easy but I’m trying to get back there.
Are we doing the right thing? 
Some of my peeps including my
Mother's best friends
Now is the time when I need the support of my fan base. We are leaving so much behind… not just our comfortable home, incredible outdoor lifestyle, the scenery of the scenic and green Pacific Northwest but most importantly, my peeps. Those very special people that have seen me through my ups and downs these past 46 years. My incredible group of women friends some of whom I see daily, run with weekly or touch base with once a month, to check in on life. The people who I rely on to keep me sane, listen to my fears, keep me grounded. Guess there is always Skype, Facebook, Email…

Future windsurfers

My elder son is dyslexic and thus school is hard for him, reading a challenge. His confidence is low and self-esteem could use a boost. And I'm sticking him in an all Spanish speaking school. Am I crazy? Cruel? My younger son is a chatter box. He will talk non-stop about anything and everything to anyone (hmmmm... I wonder where he gets that from?). How will he be able to communicate in a language he doesn't yet understand?
So I’ve been going through mounds of “stuff” and getting rid of a lot. Stacks and stacks of hand-me-downs I’ve been holding on to to clothe the boys. I kept enough to get us through the next few years and handed the rest off to friends. I tried to get rid of anything I no longer wear. We’ve handed off car seats, pre-school toys, basketball hoops that were untouched (ironically that one just won’t go away), loaning out cars that we won’t use (anyone want a Pathfinder?). I tried to give away my mother’s jewelry which I’ve been hanging on to since her passing 16 years ago but a dear friend recognized the value in some pieces and promised to care for it while I am away. And still it goes….
Applying for a "Non-Lucrative Residence Visa" to Spain has been quite an adventure in itself (so we can stay over 90 days). We have been fingerprinted, gathered letters from our doctors stating that we aren't carrying any contagious diseases, shown proof of health insurance coverage for the next year and had our finances scrutinized. Over 300 pages of documentation has been handed over to the Spanish consulate, hundreds of dollars have been spent on Fed Ex fees and another $1K dropped on flying to San Francisco (nearest consulate) to apply in person. And still I don't know if we will get them. But at least I know that we've tried to the very best of our ability. If we don't get them, we can always leave the Schengen region every 3 months for the first half year.
And so, with no residency VISA’s yet in place, I just took the plunge and bought our airfare. We’re leaving in a month’s time: Seattle – London – Madrid - Granada. We have a wonderful place to land and the boys start school several weeks later. In the meantime, I’ve got to learn to relax and “enjoy the moment.” To live with 4 duffel bags sitting in the garage with the clothing we will need for the next year, to enjoy this magical place in the Columbia Gorge where we are currently residing, to log in to the Rosetta Stone every day, continue to work with our tutors in hopes that this foreign language will actually sink in one day….