Taking the Greatest Leap of my Life

The journey towards an earth-based, sustainable life in the countryside just got one step closer!

Taking the greatest leap of my life
Taking the greatest leap of my life!

Over a year and a half has passed since I committed to my radical dream of leaving the city and creating a life in the countryside. In that time many things have changed and life got a little bit, shall we say, bumpy!

Between taking the step to move in with my partner, Sergio, the arrival of and subsequent cohabitation with my Argentinian brother and sister-in-law, then the pandemic (and 4 months of quarantine with the in-laws!), working from home and the general chaos in the world, it’s fair to say it’s been a pretty tough year!

However, amidst all the outer challenges, I also had many blessings come into my life. Thanks to the readers of this blog, I had the good fortune to start my permaculture course, connect with new people online and even go and meet some of them in person or via zoom, get more involved in the community garden and meet new people there.

It’s been a topsy-turvy time, with so many challenges but also so many amazing opportunities. I guess that when we pass through any testing period of chaos, we are not going to come out of it the same person as we went into it. 

And that has certainly been the case for me over the last year and a half. My life has changed in so many ways compared to when I wrote my first post for this blog. I have changed immensely and so it’s only natural that my life reflects that. 

Outer change is the reflection of the changes that have occurred within. And change has been brewing for some time. Consequently, I have found myself making some important decisions about how I want my life to be going forward. 

To jump or not to jump? That has been the question. And if so, how far? 

I am of the belief that: A) we are here on this planet to learn, to grow, and fulfill our dreams (because if they weren’t meant to be fulfilled then why would they exist within us?) and B) there’s no point to jumping if you are not going to jump very far.

Based on this logic, I have made my decision: to be as bold and daring as possible and jump as far as I possibly can!

However, to fully understand the enormity of the leap that I am about to take, first you need to know a bit more about my back-story.

Teaching in Madrid

For the last 7 years, I have worked at the same English academy in Madrid. The fact that I have been working in the same academy for so long speaks volumes about how I have felt about my job. I have been very happy here and thanks to my job, I’ve made some life-long friends and grown enormously as a person.

My job has been the one constants in my life here in Madrid. It has given me an anchor and a sense of rootedness when other areas of my life were constantly shifting and changing. 

Life in the big city changes fast; friends come and go, the place where you live comes and goes, and with so many different things to do and try, your hobbies and interests also come and go. Living in this way is not for everyone, but I am the kind of person who hates to stagnate in the same routine for too long. For this reason, English teaching has suited me perfectly. 

Madrid
The streets of Madrid

A Different Perspective

Whilst not a high-status job, nor well paid, it has allowed me to live abundantly in many other ways. I have valued the freedom to travel for extended periods, the work-life balance that my job has offered me and the international environment of working with people from different parts of the world. 

My life here has been cyclical. Until now, every October when the new academic year starts again and I have come back from the summer break thinking about the 9-month academic year ahead and what I wanted to achieve in the new cycle.

 Each year I have had a different goal: complete an adult clown course, pass the advanced Spanish exam, commit to a daily yoga and mediation practice, go to painting and drawing classes, do capoeira, complete the master’s level DELTA certificate for teaching English as a foreign language..the list goes on.

The 9-month structure has given me a routine that I have been able to use as a tool for my personal growth, something that I have found to be enormously valuable for not letting time slip by without really making the most of it.

Resisting Social Pressure

Some people might see my lifestyle as being lazy (“3 months off! You never bloody work!”) or see me as an irresponsible adult (“when are you going to get a ‘proper job’ and stop acting the clown?”), yet I have always felt a clear sense of direction and intuition about what it was that I needed to do next. 

Whilst I may have spent my money on hobbies, travel and study rather than saving for a mortgage, I have seen these extracurricular activities as being a true investment in myself, something that will never be able to be lost or taken away. Whilst some of my friends have used the past 7 years to climb the career and the property ladder, I have been productive in other ways.

I don’t think one way is better than the other, but that our lives are ours to do what we want with and our paths are as unique as we are. We should choose our path based on our authentic dreams and those can look very different from person to person. 

That said, it is true that society tends to push you in one direction; the direction of a stable job, mortgage debt, and its many other material trappings. Then there is the social pressure for following this path: if that is what everyone else is doing then maybe I should be doing it too? 

Unlearning

However, this path of a house and 2.4 kids never resonated with me, as I began to discover after I returned from my travels in lands afar aged 24 (as I wrote about in the post “why you should forget everything you ever learnt”). But resisting social pressure and throwing off the cultural conditioning that indoctrinates us into thinking that success is a 4 bedroom house, a two-week holiday in the sun and two land rovers on the drive, isn’t an easy feat.

But over the last 7 years, I have fortunately been able to let a lot of that stuff go. Thanks to this process of unlearning I have been able to arrive at my own authentic dreams and live in a way that is aligned with who I really am. 

And so that has been my life over the last 7 years. It has been a journey in itself, full of richness and abundant in personal growth. I have enjoyed my job and met so many wonderful people, both colleagues and students. I consider myself very lucky to have had such a positive work experience; something that not everyone is lucky enough to have. 

Yet, as great as it has been, the time has come to let it go. 

The End of an Era

As I previously said, this last year and a half have been a whirlwind of change and I find myself looking at the life I have built here in Madrid and realising that I really don’t want this anymore. Being in quarantine without being able to be in nature highlighted even more to me the longing to be closer to the Earth and the natural world.

City life Madrid Carabanchel
The only bit of nature on my street

Also, my job no longer stimulates me as it used to. I have outgrown it spiritually and professionally. As I wrote in “A Radical Dream- Do You Dare?”, I have grown tired of working long hours, the lack of natural light, the meals eaten out of Tupperware boxes. After such an amazing 7 years, I feel that it has nothing left to offer me, and me nothing to offer it. 

This has also been accompanied by the slow retraction of my friendship group here in Madrid, as people moved away or naturally drifted out of my life. What seemed to be so abundant before, now seems like an empty dust bowl. The activities that used to seem fun, like hanging out on the street terraces and going to coffee shops no longer hold any meaning for me.

Death and Rebirth

The birth of my radical dream has led to the death of my old life here. That may sound dramatic but it is a law of nature: only through death comes birth. This is as true for the plants and forests as it is for our own lives. Death creates space for the new to be born. We can not create a new life until the old one has ended.

Whilst I understand this intellectually, it doesn’t make it any less uncomfortable to go through. Death, whether it is the death of a loved one, the end of a relationship or the end of an era, comes with feelings of grief, loss and sadness. 

City life Madrid
City life- street art in my neighbourhood

This is what I have been feeling over the last 6 months, as I have allowed myself to surrender to this process and allowed the new to be birthed. This blog and my permaculture course, along with new opportunities and friendships that have suddenly started to come into my life have made the process easier. 

These signs of the new, like the first buds of spring, have shown me that after death, rebirth is not only possible but inevitable. They have given me the confidence to continue on my path, trusting that I am going in the right direction.

To Leap or Not to Leap

So now I am approaching the end of my seventh year teaching in my academy. Normally I would be preparing to return to work after a summer of fun and adventures.

 But this year is different. 

I’m preparing to make the greatest leap of my life. 

This October I will not be returning to the academy that has been my anchor Madrid since I arrived. 

I have handed in my notice; it’s time to move on to pastures new. 

What do these new pastures look like? I don’t know. This is a leap of sheer faith based on the intuitive knowing that this is what I need to do. This is my next step in this journey towards my radical dream of returning to the land. 

It’s a leap into the unknown and the uncertain. 

Do I have a job to go to? No.

Am I scared? Yes. 

Am I going crazy? Maybe!

Am I sure that I am doing the right thing? 100%.

Taking the greatest leap of my life
My last day at work finished! I’m a free woman!

Intuition 

This whole journey started with intuition. I have used it as a guide since that life-changing trip to Hong Kong all those years ago. My intuition has never failed me. Following it, even when it didn’t seem to make much sense, has led me to some of the most amazing experiences in my life. 

It was intuition that brought me to Madrid, intuition that led me on my travels around the world and now it is intuition that is telling me to leave my job. 

Of course, my logical mind and ego can come up with a billion reasons why this is not a good idea: 

“How will you be able to start a life in the countryside if you are not saving up money?”, it asks ironically. 

“Many people would kill for a permanent job contract in Spain! How can you just give it up?”, it wonders responsibly. 

“What, you’re just going to jack your job in, just like that, on a whim of intuition?!”, it says sarcastically.

“Leave your job when we are still living through a pandemic?!”, it cries incredulously, “have you gone nuts?!”.

Comfort Zone

I know that this voice means well and that it is just trying to ensure my safety. Yet if I was to listen to it I would have never done anything interesting with my life, would never have taken any risk, gone to any new place or met any new people. 

It would have had me playing small in my comfort zone forever. I wouldn’t know the joy of travel, wouldn’t know how to speak Spanish, would never have met my partner Sergio and for sure, would never have had the courage to dream a radically different dream and share it with the world.

My mind says “stay safe and secure with what you have known for the past 7 years, darling”.

 Whilst my heart says “leap further than you have ever leapt in your life, girl! And don’t look back!”

Who would you listen to? 

I have written before that we should trust in life and intuition more, and trust that cynical voice in our heads less. 

I guess this is my moment to put my money where my mouth is.

So with you as my witness, dear reader, I hereby throw myself into the arms of life, cut the shackles to my old life and embark on the new! 

After all, how am I ever going to leave the city if I continue to be tied to a job here? 

Because after all, if not now, when? 

Right now I have no children to worry about, no mortgage debt, and enough money to last a while whilst I figure out what I am going to do. 

The thought of going back to the academy in October feels so wrong. And plus, it wouldn’t be fair on my boss or the students, since my heart isn’t in it anymore.

It’s time to move on. 

Rainbows Madrid
The rainbow bridge

The Rainbow Bridge

As far as I can see, there is only one way that I will be able to realise my dream of living close to the Earth and leaving the concrete jungle behind. Considering that I don’t have hundreds of thousands of euros in the bank that would help me survive whilst I got set up, I have to have a way of taking my income with me from the city to the country.

So that got me thinking… What do people use in order to get from one side of a valley to another? 

A bridge of course! 

I am going to build a bridge that will allow me to make the move slowly but surely. Or quickly and rapidly, who knows?!

It may be ramshackle and precarious, but it is the only way forward. A rainbow bridge built with love and faith in the inherent goodness of life and its ability to take me to where I wish to go.

The only advice my heart gives me is: “DON’T LOOK DOWN!”

“Don’t look down into the abyss as you cross the bridge. The winds of fear will blow but you must keep your eyes fixed on your destination in order to keep you balanced and strong. Go forth boldly, step by step and have faith that the bridge will carry you over”.

How I will build this bridge is yet to be seen, although I do have a few ideas up my sleeve (it’s not all intuition, there are some logical steps in mind!).

But for now, I am just going to enjoy the rest of the summer and give thanks for all that this job has given me over the last seven years. 

I am not going to speculate too much about what the future might hold. 

The last 7 years have been better than I could have ever imagined.

Why would I expect the future to be any different?

Olivia Grundy
Travelling in the North of Spain this summer 😉 The travel bug found me after all!

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Olivia

Join me as I transition from the city to the country, following my hearts desire for a more sustainable life based on respect for the Earth and all the creatures in it.

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Amir

Hello! This was really inspiring to read, especially as someone who’s been in Spain for 10 years teaching English too and like you, I’ve felt stagnation and an intuitive need for a change, so thanks for sharing your story and best wishes to you!

Dawn

Hi Olivia. I stumbled across this and it really resonates with me. I have a very similar back story. Good luck with everything and living your best life. Look forward to reading more:)

Emma Tonge

Hi Liv, love your post. I am so so proud of you for following your dreams and trusting yourself and the world… but not only that putting in the hard work it will take too, whatever that may be.
It is very sad and emotional to leave something that has been in your life so long… even if you know it is right. Looking forward
To seeing your journey … I know you will make it. Emma xxxx

The Big leap where everything is scary but so so so very much alive

Pippa Sharman

Hi, just came across your post on the off grid site. We are complety off -grid and self sufficient but live a very bourgeois life in comparison to many off-griders, making money with the casa rural sure comes in useful. I belong to another off grid group which sounds great, especially the goats, maybe this would be a possibility….https://freedomfarm.es/are-you-ready-for-a-life-changing-experience-90days-off-grid-in-the-mountains/?fbclid=IwAR1iwEOnzcSpjkdrqX0gcaDNO3hb9eJ1vYKO3mU5PYkTXE16Q5IvqfcVcDM It sounds like a constructive and fun idea, I would love to do it if I didn’t have so many commitments at the casa rural and was a bit younger! Good luck but do listen to your practical voice sometimes and make a plan, don’t always trust to fate, there’s a cut -off point for being whimsical speaking from experience!

ann

Because you are talking about a pandemic you property haven’t undestood what is going on i the world right now and what impact it will have on your life

Aileen Baxter

Wow! I love your story and your writing Olivia and I am looking forward to reading about the next chapter in your life.
Good luck x

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