Barcelona, Spain. 2011.
That’s a time in my life where I genuinely recall living in the present. And I believe it was that intentional way of experiencing each moment that led to so much happiness and learning and pure enjoyment. I could breathe a little bit more. It took time. About a month into my stay there until I was at that place where I could remain present, and past the point of journaling in my notebook about how I was so tired of eating practically a whole baguette with either cheese and olive oil or meat and olive oil for lunch. Looking back, I realize how ridiculous it was to complain about eating fresh bread, that was flakey and hard on the outside and airy on the inside. Now I dream about those bocadillos I ate everyday for lunch prepared by my host mother.
My time spent in Spain required letting go. It was unnerving and yet somehow comforting to see a side of myself that I didn’t know I was capable of living out. And living in such a way that felt so effortless.
Barcelona is a chapter in my life that remains so influential today to who I am and how I see the world. It is still a point of reference for me that I can continue to learn from. It’s that way of living I was able to achieve there that I continue to strive to integrate into my way of living back home.
Diving into the realm of non-profit leadership has challenged me to say the least. And I’m only now beginning to recognize the importance of separating my identity and self-worth—my own well-being— from the organization. It’s that recognition that has changed my perception of this director role to viewing it more as a spiritual journey—embracing and living out bold humility, listening and learning from the world. And more importantly, admitting when I need help and where I need help.
Separating my identity from the organization has provided the freedom and space I needed to breathe a little bit more, allowing the room to take bigger inhales and breathe out bigger exhales. It has given the necessary framework to begin to integrate the way of living I experienced in Spain—present focused, not complacent nor anxious about the future.
Living in the moment is difficult to do when ‘what’s next’ trumps ‘what’s now.’ Joy is a discipline. Attention to everyday interaction and intention in our interactions requires work, care, detail, and patience.
My best friend, Michael, has inspired the thoughts above. M makes me feel in the moment. And it is a result of his intentionality with others and his surroundings that inspires to get in touch again with that piece of me first revealed in Spain. It’s the careful thought he puts into every little detail, appreciating each day, and thinking of ways to create not just for self, but for the benefit of others to enjoy that lend insight into such a rare honesty.
It’s a privilege to know you, M.
Photo of my host brothers
…and me enjoying the moment.