In 2013, my husband and I took a holiday in Southern Spain. It was a very belated 'cash-in' of a week in a timeshare that my sister had gifted us for our wedding.
It was a pretty special time as this particular holiday was also to mark my having just left my corporate job.
The previous year, my mother died unexpectedly at age 57. She and I weren't always close, but the one thing she taught me was to live a life of adventure and never settle for what is 'expected' of you. She was an explorer and a traveller and even when she was taken ill, she was working on a tall ship in the South Pacific.
Clearly her message had an effect on me, as here I was, having quit a very well-paid corporate job to become an entrepreneur!
We left our Son, Jack, with relatives, and jetted off to enjoy some quality time and relaxation before the next chapter of our lives commenced.
As we stepped off the plane in to the warm mediterranean air at Malaga, little did we know that this holiday was going to become more than just a week of sun, sea and sangria.
We spent the week chilling on the beach reading, sitting at cafes in the plazas (town squares) watching and listening to the hustle and bustle, enjoying tapas and delicious wines and really getting Andalucia coarsing through our veins.
We agreed that 'someday' we'd love to 'retire' to this place.
We got home and as you'd expect, reality of having no salary and a new business to make a success of took over. We talked often of our magical week in Spain but it became a pipe dream.
In the following Spring, we had friends visit from Australia. We were talking about our dreams of travel and told them all about this place we had fallen in love with. Kyle had just read The Four Hour Work Week, by Tim Ferriss, and told me if we had itchy feet, this was the book to read and handed it to me.
After they left, I dove straight in. And I couldn't put it down. I read chapters to Leon in bed at night (whether he wanted to hear them or not). One rare sunny afternoon we took a picnic to the park and I read more of the book to him. And when we got home, we booked a ferry to Spain!
This time was a 'mini-retirement' as Tim calls it in the book. We were going for 3 months. And we had a lot of organising to do.
We sold our physical (fitness bootcamp) business, before we went and knew it would be boom or bust with our 1 year old online business.
And we did it. And we had the time of our lives. Our relationships flourished, our business had the best 3 month period we had had EVER, and we fell in love all over again with Andalucia.
Heading back on the ferry on 1st October, we knew a part of our hearts would remain in Spain forever.
Believe it or not, we didn't plan to make the permanent move straight away - there were so many other places we wanted to see in the world. We started thinking about the next trip. But the reality of the drudgery of England soon set in! For our family, we knew we were not meant to be here. One cold, wet and dark November day, Jack returned from school soaked to the bone and thoroughly miserable, uttered the words "I wish we were back in Spain" and the deal was done.
8 weeks later (with a 4 week stint in Hawaii in between - tell you about that some other time!), we were back on that ferry!
The journey to calling the Axarquia home (the region just to the east of Malaga where we now live) was pretty plain sailing. With the exception of a few question marks over our choice to allow Jack to self-school from our family, we have settled in to Spanish life with ease and flow.
Here, we've learned to live a simple lifestyle. Before moving here we sold all of our stuff and only came with what we could fit in (or on!) the car - and that included 3 adult-sized human beings and our two pug-dogs - so didn't leave a lot of room for much else!
That process of 'thinning out' our stuff was eye opening. You don't realise how much stuff you have accumulated until you have to get rid of it all! The truth was that we had so much 'stuff' and most of it we hadn't touched in years. We had collected material possessions as a substitute to having experiences. We had all the gear (the best dinnerware, the clothes, the cars etc) but no idea about what life is really all about.
The term "life is short" has become a mega-cliché. We say it, but I'm not sure most of us fully appreciate what it means. I thought I knew and believed that I lived life that way until my mother died so young and I was faced with my own mortality. I was reminded again when I lost my grandfather last month.
None of us is guaranteed a tomorrow, and we only get this one, precious life to live. We put off our big goals and dreams for another day. Too often that day never comes. We listen to our self-limiting beliefs or the voices of negative people. We let our doubt and fear hold us back from an amazing life.
Just recently my sister and I got chatting to a group of retirees. At the time she worked for the local government and despised her job. She was working for the paycheque, so that she could pay the mortgage each month. I was trying to encourage her to take a different course (after all, it worked out fine for me!), and the people we were talking to vehemently disagreed - advising her to stick it out for the pension and THEN she can do what she loves....
But what if (god forbid) she were to suffer the same fate as our mother... She would spend her life doing something she hated, for a retirement that she never reached.
(I am pleased to say she celebrated her final day in that job last week!)
We collect cars, houses, electronics, and other 'stuff' to fulfil us instead of embracing the life we really want. Moving to Spain taught me to let go of all that shit, and to appreciate the simple things in life, like people, experiences and nature.
Moving overseas may not be your dream, but I'll put my life on it you do have dreams. Whatever they are, you should take a step towards them. After all, what can it hurt? I'm not saying you have to go out and quit your job, or do something drastic right now. I am saying take a step, even if that is just beginning to entertain the idea that dreams can become reality.