One year of change and adventure


One year ago.  It’s funny to think that one year ago, I quit my secure nine-to-five job to try something different.  Like many other parts of life, it seems like it was such a short time ago, even though this year was chock-full of experiences and memories.  Now that 365 days have passed, I look back fondly to my time in Europe and everything else I have experienced since.

Special memories

There are certain days or moments that stand out in this past year.  The day before I flew out was marked as an “us” day for my husband and me.  No email, no phone calls, no other people.  We had breakfast, then went out for lunch, and dinner and coffee, finally ending with with a stroll in the beautiful summer weather.  I don’t recall what we talked about with my departure and three-month absence looming in the air.  I just remember thinking that this was a perfect day, and this memory still makes me teary today.

I remember the sense of accomplishment and awe and relief I felt when I took a weekend trip to Paris.  I was hard on myself during my trip away from home and downplayed how much “hutzpah” it took me to take the journey; so when I exited the metro station and looked up to see the Tour Eiffel (with its distinctive shape that visually confirms you’re not in Canada anymore), I was overcome with emotion.

There was an unlucky incident (locking myself out of my apartment) followed by a really cool incident (I got to meet my local neighbours, who offered help with my unlucky incident.)  Over the next eight weeks, I chatted with them occasionally, confirming that my Spanish had progressed beyond ¿dónde está la biblioteca?, and also leading to the next fun memory.

My neighbours invited me to a mini block-party, a movie night out on the street for everyone on the block.  I remember thinking how neat it was to be in Spain, doing a distinctly Spanish activity surrounded by Spanish people.  My neighbour even mentioned that this could be an activity unique to the Barceloneta neighbourhood, owing to the unusual layout of its streets. How cool is that? Gràcies a vosaltres, Eva i Marc!

My last full day in Barcelona is a series of special memories.  I had pretty much packed everything, so I spent the morning in the sun by the sea.  (This was mid-November, so it was nice and quiet.)  I then went for lunch at my favourite pizzeria.  The staff was starting to recognize me, so I was a little saddened that I wouldn’t be returning the next week.  It was another warm sunny day, so I decided to walk to the beach, which was on-route to my apartment anyway. I spent about 4 or 5 hours quietly contemplating the water.  I then wandered through the Ciutat Vella neighbourhood and spent my last Euro on a delicious muffin for my departure-day breakfast.  Finally, nighttime came and I found another place by the sea, looking up to the stars in the sky and out to the infinite horizon.  I found it hard to walk away, and after some meditative breathing with mixed emotions, I walked away from the ocean at 12:45 am.

What next?

Now that I’ve been home for nine months, what’s on the agenda? Well, I’m not totally sure, but if you’ve got the inside scoop, feel free to drop me a line!

Joking aside, these past nine months have been interesting.  I successfully found another nine-to-five job, but that lasted four weeks; I didn’t enjoy the work, but most importantly, it required me to go against my moral compass.

Since then, I’ve been wondering if I want a nine-to-five job again.  I’ve been able to earn some income being self-employed, and I’m enjoying the freedom that it allows.  The inner-struggle comes in when I hear the voice of society (both inside my head and from others outside) saying: “Don’t you want to buy a house? Don’t you want a dental plan? What about a pension plan?”

I have been gently reminding myself and others who speak of such topics that I am (and you are too) a three-part entity: a body, a mind and a soul. I (we) need to focus on all three to be happy, otherwise our life is unbalanced, gray and unpleasant. Sure, the monthly pension cheque provides for the body’s needs, but even then, that’s in the future.  The only moment that I (we all) have is this one, right now.  What can I (we) do right now to fulfill the needs of my (our) body, mind and soul?

So, right now, I’m doing very well. I’m not hungry, but I’ve got fruit in my backpack in case that changes.  My mind is alert, aware of my surroundings and stimulated as I write this text.  And my soul is inspiring me with the words to write this text.

I may, in the future, come across a job that will fulfill all three of my aspects.  That may or may not include pension and dental plans.

I have read from different spiritual teachers that, once you shift your focus from body-only (which I believe so many of us on Earth are stuck in right now) to body-mind-spirit, your life unfolds in wondrous ways as you start seeing a deeper meaning to life. It’s been a bumpy road at times, but this is the path I started walking when I left my job 12 months ago. Let’s see where life takes me next!

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2 thoughts on “One year of change and adventure

  • Deb Woodman

    Hi Jean- I admire you for taking a leap of faith and following your heart. I came across this quote lately that resonates so much for me- ” For there are no ordinary moments. There are only precious feelings and memories we piece together one by one. We call it a lifetime.” You are adding all these precious memories to your “book of life”. Not everyone is meant to have a 9 to 5 job… with pensions and benefits. You are following your heart which will lead you to were you are meant to be … be it for a short time or a longer time….
    but when you follow your heart- it feels right!

    sending hugs… Deb

  • Debbie

    Unbalanced, gray, unpleasant, sad sad sad – this describes my life. Body Mind Soul – Wonderful! I didn’t realize this; my plans and dreams for retirement have been to seek/attain those 3 exact things. Am actually weeping with this new found knowledge.

    You’re a great writer, I already knew that but your Spain blog! Let me put it this way… when eating a meal, I leave most of my favorite food to eat last. I enjoy the anticipation of savoring those last bites. Or reading the newspaper, my favorite sections are left to the end too. That’s how I felt about your blog. I’d delay reading it, wanting to prolong the experience of your journey.