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a few … ago

A few days ago I returned from a work trip in the Catalan Pyrenees, and for a few days before that

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comings and goings

I was in Tarragona camping and taking in the Santa Tecla festival.

In some ways, another typical week in the life that is emerging to be my life in Spain. There’s a pattern of comings and goings (mine and visitors from near and far), and every now and then, a local “fiesta” like the fallas, or “Día de la Comunidad Valenciana

At times I have difficulty getting my feet back on the ground after time away, or settling down after visits. It would take a day (if I manage to focus) or several days, or a week to fall back into a “normal for me” work-life-play rhythm. Reflecting and experimenting with this ebb and flow of “journeys”, has helped me to plan how to best use the time I have and the work I need to do. I’ve started thinking of these time-chunks as “sprints”.

take away the tick, tock and pause to see what is

I am working collaboratively, yet also independently, on projects this year, and tick, tock, tick: have you noticed? It’s October and the end of 2016 is near!

It can be lonely working with teams but from a distance, which is one of the changes this move to Spain has brought. On top of that, I can feel overwhelmed by all I’m trying to accomplish this year, but pauses like this one, can help me see developments:  they may not be linear, they may be slow, but I am advancing, and I am amazed at how pieces of life can come together. Here’s the story of one of those pieces – getting to know ecodharma.

tick, tock, october 2013

I first went up to the Pyrenees to ecodharma a few years ago, in October 2013, for a course  Sustaining Resistance,Empowering Renewal (SRER). I came back fizzing with excitement about what I had learned and the beauty and reality of the place – both geographic and human.

Ecodharma is a community located in the Catalan Pyrenees offering courses and retreats as well as demonstrating alternative, healthy ways of living with each other as people, and with the Earth. Read more about the project here.

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the valley below ecodharma

Listening to my story of the place, the landscape, the course, and the people, one friend remarked, “It seems like you’ve found a clue about what’s next for you in Spain.”

Had I, and in what sense? I couldn’t see it. Ecodharma is a lovely a place. But it’s at the end of the road, on the top of a mountain, and while the surroundings are  beautiful and I feel energised by this amazing project, it’s the sort of place that requires love for and commitment to hard but important work (which I have), but I can’t see myself content in the long-term living a simple, mountain life.

I love that my work takes me there, I enjoy being there, it regenerates me. But, right now at least, I am a city dweller. I go out for lunch; I pop into art galleries now and then; I take comfort in the diversity of people and landscape of urban community. I am grateful for the mountain visits and my life in the city, it’s a joy and privilege to have both. Indeed I am also very happy that city life is Valencia, it’s significantly less frenetic than London.

spain… the day-dream

A few years ago moving to Spain was a dream. Now it’s a reality.

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illusion or reality

We started our research into living in Spain several years back, and when my friend made that above observation we had already visited – and ruled out – Barcelona, Bilbao and all of the Basque Country, as well as Vigo, Pontevedra and Ourense in Galicia. No too to – Asturias, Cantabria and Madrdid. A few times during our “research years”, I feared living in Spain was an illusion, that I was seeking a place that only existed in my head, and rainy, old London was destined to be my home forever.

Some months (15 to be exact) would pass between my friend’s commennt, and our eventual discovery of  Valencia. Stepping off the train, we knew instantly:  this is the place. After that it was a matter of connecting the dots and doing the leg and paperwork to move here. Ha! That sounds all so easy doesn’t it? Let’s simply say the process has had its ups and downs.

….

tick, tock november 2015

Then last year I signed up to take the SRER training of trainers course, and found out ecodharma was exploring the possibility of setting up an ecodharma iberia team to do courses and workshops in Spanish, would I be interested?

butterfly

reality taking shape

ecodharma iberia

Without hesitation I was and am. I have gained so much from the courses and my time at ecodharma, I am keen to be part of actively sharing that with others so they can benefit in the same ways.

There’s five of us on the ecodharma iberia team. We started working as a group over distance in January this year, we met two times face-to-face, and we organised an 8-day residential course. Now we are inching forward with a list of tasks to develop our training collective, as well pushing on with our thinking about what we offer (what’s needed and what’s unique) to grassroots groups here in the Iberian peninsula.

I enjoy the work and the relationships with these colleagues/friends. The content and ways of working feel familiar, yet there is enough “new” in terms of culture, context and language to keep it challenging in a good way.

the journey by land and sky

Eight months in Valencia, and I feel more settled than before, but not quite. It’ll be an on-going process for a year or more.

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I want to fly too!

One of my ecodharma colleagues shared a reflection on her journey working and studying abroad, and her return to Spain a few years ago. Her struggle, as she recounted it the other day, was minimal. She said when she came back, she had found her path in life, and she had the ground under feet. She knew what she wanted to do,  and then (Zoom!) suddenly there was nothing under feet because she was flying. And that’s where she is now.

flying

Gosh! I want to fly too. Like this friend, I think I have found my path too, but I wouldn’t call the pace and grace with which I’m patching together and managing my projects flying. It’s more like flight preparation, stretching my wings, and doing exercises to build up momentum. In fact, I’m going back to ecodharma in a few days to take part in a new course – Mindfulness and Social Change, and we’ll see what that brings.

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ready for flight

Tick, tock, tick, October 2016.

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