I am moving to Madrid. Say what?! I myself have to read and re-read these words to believe it is actually happening!
These last few months have been a blur dealing with the red tape of moving myself there, applying for school and a student visa, booking flights and an apartment not to mention moving out of the apartment that I have lived in for the last 12 years. I've sold my car and most of what I own in Vancouver and only bringing a suitcase, laptop and camera to Madrid. This feels light and free and so right:)
The final decision to go was in mid-January, but it all started back in September when I went to NY to Photoville. Being immersed in the photography scene there made me long to be a part of it again. I was in a sea of strangers most of the time, yet I felt a feeling of being home, like I was with my tribe again.
Photography is not only a vehicle to help me best express myself creatively, but it is also my therapy, the thing that gives me goosebumps and moves me and connects me to like-minded souls. I am present and appreciate the moment. I could also describe travelling in the exact same way.
So long story short, I got home and started researching schools around the world and decided on the Istituto Europeo di Design in Madrid. I applied for the European Master in Contemporary Photography and learned of my acceptance in December. I wish I could say the decision to move forward after that was a no-brainer but there is one really big factor that has held me back from pursuing and doing a lot of things in the past and I needed to figure out if I was willing to take what for me is a gigantic crazy scary OMG WTF am I doing kind of risk.
Rewind to '08 when I quit my job to take a year-long sojourn through SE Asia and NZ. I thought I was marking the beginning of a crazy chapter of globe-trotting, camera in hand and many a National Geographic and Surfer's Journal publication in my future. But if you're a long time reader, you'll know my health went super wonky after that and the years following got really muddy. I had long, sporadic debilitating bouts of illness for years. Physically, I felt HORRIFIC and this, of course, weared on me mentally and financially. When you feel like you are dying but you don't know why, you're spending thousands but no one seems to be able to help you, you can't give what you are suffering from a name and no one wears a bracelet or runs a marathon for it, you feel very, very, very ALONE.
Skip to the last couple of years, I still struggle from time to time but it is not nearly as bad as it used to be (thanks to this very special lady). It still gives me the heebie-jeebies just thinking about those years.
The thing that has become worse and is still a major issue is my aversion to alcohol. Any kind of exposure to it (which is always by accident such as it unknowingly being in my food) leads to being bedridden for days and days after. Unfortunately, year after year, I seem to become more and more sensitive and it is at the point now where even being on an airplane with people drinking nearby will take me out for several days after. This makes travelling REALLY, really terrifying.
The things I used to do on the regular like going out to dinner in establishments that served alcohol, going to an art opening, watching a band in a bar, being a vendor at an outdoor festival with beer gardens nearby, hanging out with a friend at their place while they have a cocktail....all of the above have made me seriously ill in the last few years and in turn propelled me into a more reclusive life.
You don't see too many people running for their lives at the site of a patio bar or taking cover when a glass of wine is being poured on a plane. And if you ever wondered why I'm single, need I say more? ;)
I know what you are thinking and yes I have sought mental help:) It is not all in my head (if it were, it might be easier to treat). My body simply cannot metabolize alcohol and it's been going on since about my early 20s and gotten worse with age.
So why in the heck are you going to Madrid of all places then...where there is a bar for every 132 inhabitants?!
Here is the short answer courtesy of Anais Nin:
“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”
I have had ENOUGH. I am tired of putting my dreams on hold until things are just perfectly right to chase them. Tired of every day being the damn same but still expecting that things might somehow change. Tired of being at home..alone..a LOT. Tired of working my tookus off and not really moving ahead or feeling rewarded. Tired of feeling I am in the wrong place.
Will I be able to partake in tapa bars, fiestas, art openings, dance clubs and dinner parties there? Well, no (but I still hope that someday things will be different). A wise friend pointed out to me when I was contemplating not going, even if I am doing Madrid at only 60%, it is still better than staying stagnant in Vancouver, in the same place. I could not argue with that! My spirit and soul both want more.
"The free soul is rare, but you know it when you see it - basically because you feel good, very good, when you are near or with them."
- Charles Bukowski
Thomas Moore says that our spirit is that part of us that wants to transcend and grow so we can improve ourselves. The soul, on the other hand, needs a home or a sense of home - a place where we feel we are in the right part of world. He also says, if we hold back or say no to life, the soul gets wounded.
Vancouver is beautiful but it has never felt like home to me, nor have I ever come home to anyone there. I have had my fill of incessant rain and the serious lack of connection I feel there. Humans are, after all, solar/soular powered.
My lust for adventure, photography and travelling has been stifled for much too long. I KNOW that when you listen to and do what your spirit and soul want and put your faith in knowing that there is something bigger out there backing you, only amazing things can come from that.
"Happiness is the joy that we feel when we're striving after our potential."
- Ancient Greeks
The most painful decision I had to make through this was to find Sigurd and Pusskin a temporary home while I am gone. I was hellbent to bring them until I realized how long and gruelling the flight would be for them and I don't want to take the risk of that traumatizing them or negatively affecting their health in any kind of long-term way.
So, I found them a FABULOUS temporary home in Vancouver through a friend where they have sweeping views, a giant jungle gym and lots of stairs to climb, but most importantly a loving couple to care for them. An example of how life helps you along when you're moving in the direction of your dreams.
I have closed up the jewelry portion of my biz at least for now and focussing solely on my photography. If you are a BC local, my hand stamped jewelry will still be available for sale at Two of Hearts Clothing Boutique, Giving Gifts and Favourite Gifts as well as Migration Boutique on the island until stock runs out (I won't be replenishing after that). Giving Gifts and Favourite Gifts will continue to stock my photo printed clothing which includes yoga leggings, skirts and shorts (also avail online).
Thank you for supporting me by reading these posts, purchasing my work and connecting in person and digitally! My future blog posts will be about living and travelling in Spain (and hopefully other parts of Europe), everything photography and any wisdom worth sharing along the way. I would love for you to join me in the adventure and if you have any of your own stories about facing and overcoming your fears, I would love to read them!
"Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive."
- Howard Thurman
Up next: Photos from pre-trip pit stops in Saskatchewan and NYC en route to Madrid!
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