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2015: The Year We Faced Our Dreams

I have put off writing this post until the last few hours of 2015, because the idea has overwhelmed me. Sometimes it’s easier to talk about challenges than it is about joys. Do you know what I mean? Everything I want to share here is put into context by the year-end post I wrote four years ago– 2011: The Year We Faced Our Fears. I would love for you to just take a moment to read that one, because it was our most formative year, and sets the stage so beautifully for what happened this year. Go ahead and read that one… I’ll wait.

[Just in case you skipped it… 2011 included job loss, leaving a country we were falling in love with, two international moves, sleeping in over 20 different beds in just a few months, time spent in the ICU (me), bankruptcy, an ACL tear and a surgery (also me) and making peace with living in a country that was not a great fit for us. It was so bad… comically bad. But we got through it, and that laid the foundation for all that we are now living.]

2015 has truly been the year of facing our dreams. I say facing because to be honest, it’s not always easy! It’s actually kind of terrifying sometimes.IMG_5567Around this time last year, we were gearing up for our move here to Spain. During the five months between finding out that my husband had gotten a job in Spain and actually moving here, I had a constant knot in my stomach. Jeff is an anticipator, and loves to find out all about wherever we are going– whether it’s a big move or a simple day trip. I am not an anticipator. I am a right-here-right-now kind of person. Dreaming is often scary for me. Whenever Jeff would start reading about El Puerto de Santa Maria to me out of guidebooks or something he’d found online, I would start feeling nauseous. It all sounded too wonderful, and since it wasn’t real to me at that moment, I just couldn’t handle the information. Everything I had ever wanted seemed to be waiting right here for me in Spain– sunshine, seafood, blue skies, all of my favorite foods, friendly people, music I love, my favorite kinds of architecture– everything. Poor guy, he had to keep all of this delightful information to himself for several long months! I was overcome with fear that somehow this long-awaited dream of mine would go away before it even got to happen, and that enjoying it beforehand would jinx it. It was hard to believe it was really happening, and I think I tried to protect myself by just putting it out of my mind until our plane landed here.IMG_5525Like any international move (we have now been through several!) it was not easy at first. There was a lot to work out, there were disappointments, times of intense stress and adjustment. Added to that, I felt very disoriented to be living a life I had dreamed of for my entire adult life. The contrast between life in England and life in Spain could not have been more stark, and it felt very weird! It took a few months of warming up to the goodness of my life before I could really accept and enjoy it. I was often afraid that something would go horribly wrong and it would be over. That with the stunning reward there would be a terrible consequence somewhere.

But there wasn’t anything awful lurking. The more I embraced all of the sweetness around me, the better things became.

There’s something strange that happens when your most-hoped-for dream becomes real… It’s hard to know what to do with all of the energy you had previously invested in making it happen. I often found myself thinking, “OK, now what?”

I was afraid of being greedy about life. But what if everything is possible? Gradually, I let some other closely-guarded hopes come out to play.IMG_5444The first was one that I am still really shy to admit to anyone. I have always wished I could dance. I am not a natural, and never did any dance (besides toddler ballet) in all of my childhood and adolescence. What I do have going for me is that I love to move and have always been athletic. And I have always loved watching dance, more than any other art form. So I have kept in my heart the secret wish that I could someday be a dancer, even if I never told anyone (at 36, this is kind of embarrassing to type). I was pretty darn sure that would never happen, once I tore my ACL for the third time almost two years ago.

Well, what do you know? The whole story of signing up for dance classes and facing some real fears is here. I wrote that over six months ago, and both Jeff and I have continued with classes every single week since then. I have increased my number of private lessons, and often dance up to three hours a week with my teacher. It has been amazing. I am still a beginner, but I love the process of learning and training my body so much. And Jeff and I are at the point that we know enough of several dances to just enjoy dancing in our living room on our own. I can hardly believe it, and it is so much fun!

On to the next dream, then!

One of the biggest sacrifices I made when we moved away from the USA was closing my massage therapy practice. Doing bodywork (particularly CranioSacral Therapy) is what I feel like I was put on this earth to do. I love it so much, and it feels like such an incredible and sacred privilege to help women connect with their own bodies, release pain and trauma, and heal. So although I have found a lot of joy and fulfillment blogging and writing Pruned and And Here We Are At the Table, I have also felt that there was a really important part of myself lying dormant.

In July I started the process of getting approved by the base for a home-based business, and everything went incredibly smoothly. I couldn’t believe how easy it seemed. I have the perfect treatment room in my home, and no overhead costs! I quickly ordered a table, made up my marketing materials, and started sharing with the community what I had to offer. I was so surprised by how quickly people responded. It had never been so easy to get my practice going, and I am still amazed and thankful today. It’s such an amazing opportunity to serve these families, and I am loving getting to know each person who comes through my door, and helping them.

Because I have plenty of work to do, I have been able to afford to get some training I have wanted to do for almost a decade! Last October I went to Portland to do a course on CranioSacral Therapy for Pediatrics, and this February I will be in Los Angeles taking CST Applications for Preconception, Pregnancy and Birth. I am so excited, and this is the most fulfilling work I have ever done. The ideal is always to be able to do enough of what you love that you can afford to continue your training so you can become even more skilled at the work. This is the first time that has really played out for me, and I am incredibly grateful.

So, these are the three biggest dreams I have faced this year. There are so many little things that just humble and astound me all of the time about our life here– how happy Amelia is in school, and watching her become bilingual (as I have always wanted for her), enjoying Spanish culture on a daily basis, seeing friendships and connections form, knowing that we will be able to visit our family this summer in the USA, and generally just really loving our life.

I confess that all of this still makes me a little uncomfortable. And while I’m being honest, sharing it here feels a little like tempting fate. But I work hard not to let “foreboding joy” steal the goodness that is right here, right now. I want to celebrate with others when things go well for them, and so I will also welcome others to celebrate with us. It has been an impossibly good year for my family.IMG_5536And can I just bring us back to the beginning here for a minute? Four years ago, we were closing out a year full of worst-case-scenarios and fears-come-true. I knew it had to get better, yet anxieties that it might not still lurked. And it did get better, so much better than I could have imagined. So if you are now closing a year of disappointment and disaster, I just want to invite you to continue to plod on and hope and reach out toward the things that make you come alive in 2016.

Happy New Year! I am wishing each of us courage and unexpected joys in 2016.    

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6 Responses to 2015: The Year We Faced Our Dreams

  1. The Saffron Girl December 31, 2015 at 5:10 pm #

    I loved reading this Ariana, and also about your horrible 2011 (and a few of the other posts in between). Since the end of 2013, I’ve been living the most horrible fears… reading about yours resonates on many levels, but also reading about your 2015 brings hope. And that’s so important to not lose sight of! My dreams haven’t yet formed… I hope I can write a positive post like this one soon. Wishing you a healthy, happy and very prosperous New Year 2016; and that you may continue living and thoroughly enjoying your dreams without fears. Debra xx

  2. Laurie December 31, 2015 at 5:43 pm #

    Great post! It is okay to celebrate our joys and gifts, and be truly thankful for our good fortune. I am so happy for you and Jeff! All the best for continued successes in 2016!
    I am heading out to find some red underwear to gift to friends before tonight’s New Years celebration!

  3. Caeol December 31, 2015 at 10:40 pm #

    Beautiful. Much love.

  4. Rachel January 1, 2016 at 7:49 pm #

    Hi Ariana,
    I found your blog because I Googled something like “loneliness being an ex-pat” and one of your articles popped up and called to me. I’ve been reading and reading your posts since then and what a delight they’ve been, especially this one, to see how happy you are in Spain and that your dreams have come true.

    I’m an American living in Scotland and though I love a lot about living here, you’ll remember from your time in England how hard it is in winter. So as it’s rainy and cold outside, yet again, I’m feeling low about living so far away from friends and family. I wonder if this feeling will ever change — I’ve been in this country for 12 years, living in our current home for 2. Will I ever feel I belong? Will it ever feel 100% home?

    Do you feel that your ex-pat loneliness has abated, or is it something that you just live with when you choose to live in another country, no matter how wonderful?

  5. onzetrouwringen March 24, 2016 at 1:51 pm #

    Amazing pictures. Love those places.

  6. evon May 31, 2016 at 12:44 am #

    hi. I love your sense of adventure and your well earned and beautiful successes for such a young couple. your blogs are entertaining and an inspiration. good luck and a special hi to Amelia…

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