Valencia - The Journey Continues

We’ve made it to Spain! While it was bittersweet to leave Lisbon after making it our home, Spain has been a welcome change. I’m in love with it all - the food, the people, the apartments, the lifestyle, the language, the siesta time and espresso mornings. 

Our first night here was truly exceptional as we were invited to attend the annual town dinner in an outside suburb of Valencia. We got in our taxi’s and headed in an unknown direction, the home of a friend of a friend. We were immediately welcomed with open arms, hugs and cervezas as the locals practiced their English and we practiced our Spanish to converse. 

When they said town dinner, they weren’t kidding! The village came together (~1200 people) to have a catered meal together, long tables filled with family and friends. The dinner started at 10 pm and after a few hours of food and wine running on little sleep from our travel day from Lisbon, I’m bummed I didn’t make it to the live music (went on around 1 am), but I heard it was a blast!

Everyone we met was so welcoming, their love for their community and each other was apparent, and although we were far away, it felt like home. 

Our host Suzi and her friends welcomed us and made us feel at home in Valencia

The next day the celebration continued with a parade and city-wide festival. Mary and I hit the streets and watched with the locals. We didn’t quite understand the history or importance of all the costumes, but they were beautiful, and the city was vibrant with culture and excitement. That day we became the best Valencians (pronounced with a bit of lisp - Balenthains. They also say gracia-th vs. gracias!). 

While the travel is fantastic and a physical form of my time here, I'm also on an internal journey growing both personally and professionally.
Personally, this experience has been eye-opening and having such a dynamic, supportive, loving community alongside me is making all the difference. By now we all know each other pretty well. We know who the communicators are, who likes to organize things, who likes their alone time and who loves to always be in a conversation. We know pet peeves and hot topics, favorite foods and drink orders. 

We are all learning from each other constantly, and there is a line that has been blurred between friends, roommates, travel companions, co-workers (in the sense that we share a space, not that we work in the same industry), dinner dates, workout buddies, and family. A line I didn't realize was so present in my everyday life. 

I have to credit my roommate Jessika (The Petite Nomad) for bringing the realization of this line, and the absence of it within this program, to my attention. I'm telling y'all - the conversations are real here! 

There are intentional times that we dig deep and explore topics such as authenticity, being present, community, etc. and being together for those times makes it so easy and natural to be our authentic selves at every moment of the day. Whether we’re grabbing a cup of coffee or working on our separate projects, there are no walls up, no having to be one person at work and another at home because our lives have blended into one, larger experience. 

Experiencing this is helping me be more present and authentic with those outside of the program. I am no longer different things to different people, but the same, dynamic, multifaceted person to all. The yoga, the meditation, the real conversations have all allowed me to take a different look at myself and be able to better communication who I am and how I’m feeling without judgment. 

Professionally, I am inspired and allowed to be free and creative! Woo hoo!  I’m learning and absorbing as much as I can from my travel mates as some have their own businesses as a result of pursuing their passions. Each day is a learning process. I came into this thinking I’d work solo, perhaps freelance my way for a bit or create my own site and soon remembered that I more so like projects and consulting and working with people - valuable information to have when making my next move. The true digital nomad life can be quite lonely without having a network or team. 

I love being a storyteller, both long form and short form such as pictures with captions or quotes. I’m enjoying the fact that I can be inspired by these people and places and share that inspiration with others and tell the story of that moment in a way that is unique and my own. If I can find a way to work this into a future career, I'd be in heaven.

I was also forced (in a loving way, by GlobeKick) to take a look at not only what I enjoy, but what I’m good at. What skills do I have that may come more easily to me than others? Here's where you, my loving friends and family come in, those that know me better than most as I would love any and all feedback on where you think I excel. I would greatly appreciate your perspective as I begin to focus more fully on my career. 

Thank you all for your thoughts, texts, messages and for being wonderful you! I hope you are finding parts of my journey applicable to your every day. 

I challenge you to explore authenticity, to be the best version of you at all times - at work, at home, with best friends and strangers. 

Until next time - adios amigos!