I always wanted to live a colourful and meaningful life, full of the types of experiences you read about in books. I have a curious nature and an incessant need to explore, which meant that as soon as I left school and saved enough money, I jetted off overseas, to do exactly that.
So, it mustn’t have been a huge surprise to my parents, when I declared, after 10 years of traveling the world, that I was moving to Barcelona in the name of love.
I had met a wonderful Spanish man while travelling through Mexico and after a year of being amigos, we realised there was a lot more than friendship blossoming between us.
For a decision as big as moving across the other side of the world, it was made quickly and with a matter of ease. The long road ahead was where the difficulty really lay.
I would need to learn the language, launch a career, find amazing friends, begin to understand the culture and become friendly with a local barista (that would, of course, know my daily coffee order).
Above all, what I really wanted, and began to confidently announce to anyone who would listen, was to begin my mission of creating a more meaningful life. I would use this time to find purpose and figure out what It was I wanted to do. Who I wanted to be. And what type of life I wanted to lead.
I was in the unique position that moving countries often gives you, which was the opportunity to ‘wipe the slate clean’ and create a brand new life. You have the ability to start over choosing exactly what, who and how you would like to spend your time.
I had, in fact, already decided to move to a foreign country in a language I didn’t speak, with a man I barely knew, no friends, no future prospects and no help, because of a feeling. I may as well take it one step further and sign up for a new life mission!
The meaning of life is to live a meaningful life. - Bill Phillips
On my quest to find a purposeful, new life in Spain, I needed to gaze inward and explore exactly what it was that I enjoyed doing, the type of friends I’d like to surround myself with, what I’d need to do to be happy and how I could help people along the way.
And like every dedicated student, I began to search online for the key elements that I’d need to nail. I came across hundreds of blogs, articles and even more books all trying to define, justify or search for the ideal existence.
When people explain what makes their lives meaningful, they tend to describe these things: having rich relationships and bonds to others; having something worthwhile to do with their time; and having experiences of awe and wonder
I liked this quote, and decided it was a good place to start. I broke my life down into these three categories and spent time cultivating and exploring success in each:
1. Create Rich Relationships and Bonds to Others
I needed to meet the locals. After living in London for three years, I knew how important it was, as a way to really embed yourself into society, to befriend the very people that were born there. My group of English girlfriends that I visit multiple times a year, for the last 15 years, can attest to that. We have a long and beautiful friendship and my love story with England and my time there, will always be accessible, because I’m friends with the locals.
I went about finding mates like one would when it comes to working a part time job. I threw myself into it. I signed up to groups, said yes to all the hobbies, went to a million bbqs + get-togethers, and on those afternoons when all I wanted to do was netflix and chill, I’d leave the house and mingle.
It really takes time to create solid friendships. And often that means years of coffee dates, road trips, parties, late nights, early mornings, meeting the family and everything in between to really feel you have a firm friend for life. You need to put in the hours. It honestly took me the best part of 6 years of Barcelona living, to feel that my friend zone was truly full of lifetime legends.
2. Have something worthwhile to do with your time
Above all, what I wanted most, was to find work that filled me up with purpose and meaning. I wanted to find that thing that had me jumping out of bed in the morning with a smile on my face. Your job is the place you spend the majority of your time, as sad as that may be, and I was very aware of that reality. I know that not everyone is able to find work that they thrive in, but I was adamant and stubborn that wouldn’t be me. The best two ingredients for success.
Almost as soon as I arrived in Barcelona, I went in search of a new career path. I’d been working in travel at Flight Centre for most of my adult life, and although I loved to travel, I felt now was as good a time as ever to switch gears. From that moment on, I became what can only be described as the ultimate job junkie. I tried everything and anything that crossed my path! From teaching english to being a nanny, from a personal limo driver to a chef catering for events, I worked with artists, I sold tickets to events, I was on the TV and was employed by the Consulate General of Panama.
And although most of those jobs were to pay the bills and I knew they weren’t what I wanted to do…. I was keeping my eyes, ears and heart open. I was busy pushing the boundaries and figuring out exactly what it is I didn’t want to do. Because that was important too.
In my third year living in Barcelona I enrolled in a Yoga Teacher Training Course and I became a freelance writer for a digital marketing company.
I felt something shift.
There were no lightning bolts or a-ha moments, but as I waded deeper into my new set of responsibilities and routine I began to feel the first few tinglings I’d been searching for. I have been a yoga teacher for almost 5 years now and teach both adults and children at a lovely little studio in Barcelona. On Wednesdays I teach the Dads, Fridays the Mums, and through the week I teach their kids, so it’s really gifted me with a special community feeling.
Seeing the kids grow up into emotionally mature, rounded and confident people is so unbelievably rewarding. We use our time during class to explore all of the ups and downs that life throws at us, and work through emotions together, as a little yoga family.
I have since started a yoga retreat company and have collaborated on wellness getaways nearly every month for the last few years. Which is an incredibly fulfilling and enriching experience for everyone involved.
My writing career is blossoming beautifully and I now write for a number of incredible companies and brands worldwide, ranging from wellness leaders and speakers, coaches and sustainable fashion labels.
3. Have experiences of awe and wonder
I decided to live by the sea in Barcelona. I’m a nature lover at heart, and I knew living in the city would become stifling if I didn’t cultivate that cleansing sea air. The daily views of glistening Mediterranean water and the perfectly lined horizon make me feel oh so grateful, and an experience that I will never take for granted.
Being a curious cat and an earnest traveler means adventures filled with awe and wonder seem to present themselves to me with relative ease. My boyfriend loves to travel, nearly as much as I do, and he’s made it his personal mission to show me as much of his country as humanly possible. We’ve spent at least 2 months a year traveling by car, train, plane, and boat to some of the most beautiful and idyllic corners of Spain and it has allowed me to fall in love with not only the landscape but the rich culture this country has on offer.
I’ve been living in Spain for 7 years now, and very much enjoying this new and meaningful life of mine. I wouldn’t say that I have everything figured out, nor has it been smooth sailing, however, I’m healthy, I’m in love, my friends are awesome, I speak fluent Spanish and I feel incredibly lucky and grateful for what I do every day.
I’ve found meaning in a place that I never thought to look. A few months ago, I found this piece written by an Israeli author, Iddo Landau, and it stuck with me. One important thing that Landau writes is with regard to finding meaning in one’s life and how we often get it wrong:
People are mistaken when they feel their lives are meaningless. The error is based on their failure to recognize what does matter, instead becoming overly focused on what they believe is missing from their existence. - Iddo Landau
And through all of my searching, exploring, changing and trying, I did realise this very important lesson that he touches on…..
We all have the tools to create a meaningful life.
A meaningful life means recognising what really matters. It means living in the present. It means being excited and grateful for right now, noticing how beautiful that light is streaming through the lounge room window. Listening to the birds and how sweetly they sing their song. Breathing deep, letting go and smiling your way through today.
Because, the truth of the matter is, all we have is right now….
And whether we live in Spain or Australia, have an incredible job or not, we have the choice to love our life. And be grateful for every moment.
There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle. - Albert Einstein