Germany? Why Germany??
Isn't homeschooling illegal there? Isn't it the OPPOSITE of your free-living, rule-less, barefoot, beach lifestyle in Costa Rica? What about Alaska to Argentina?
Believe me when I tell you, that even though I did want to see Germany at some point in my life (I am part German after all), it wasn't high on my list of 'next places'.
It practically wasn't on the radar.
In fact my 'preconceived notions' of what Germany is like placed it on the 'countries to avoid' list, at least for now, with our homeschooling, 'free-loving hippie' brood. Too many rules. Too strict on visas. Illegal to homeschool. Too many rules.
But when you embark on this journey of life, and you're open to what God has in store for you, you'll often be surprised at where you end up.
Plus, I've finally admitted to myself that I am not a hippy. And I'm okay with that. I like makeup, and straightening my hair and eating meat (grass fed of course) and wearing shoes and deodorant. (Of course I'm over generalizing the stereotype of hippies, but you get my point, right?)
Maybe the opposite of hippy-land (Deutschland) will really suit me. Who knows? (That's one of the things I like about traveling. You get to try out different lifestyles.)
Anyway, how did we get to this point (moving to Germany)? How did it come up? How do you make a decision like that? How do you find a place to live?
Well, I'll tell you.
I'm taking a class on Beethoven's Sonatas, and what the instructor said resonated with me. It went a little something like this:
"Great classical music is an emotional journey. It starts at 'home' (the tonic chord), then takes us on a journey (the dominant chord), but it always ends up back home (at the tonic again). Without it, we don't know that the piece is completed. In fact, it would leave us hanging. We have an emotional need to return home."
We've been nomadic since 2007, but we haven't lost this emotional need to 'return home'. In many ways, it's grown stronger.
Don't get me wrong. We LOVE being nomadic. We love change. We love new experiences, new foods, new cultures. As a family, we've learned so much from our journeys. I really don't think we'll ever stop traveling.
But there are some things that can't be learned without a home:
Creating an emotional connection with a place (house, community, country) over a long period of time
Seeing the long term results of sowing and reaping (like planting a garden)
Observing what the same place looks like throughout the year -- summer, fall, winter, spring
Having a place to create, and then display and cherish those creations (instead of constantly disposing of nearly everything you own to move on to the next place)
Building a library of real books that you and your children can develop a long-term relationship with (this is a major part of our education philosophy, which I'll be writing about later)
We want to give our children the best of both worlds -- 'house life' and nomadicism (yeah, I made that word up).
Of all the job titles I hold (web designer, blogger, writer, mother, teacher, etc.), the one I really like best is homemaker.
To many people, it's old fashioned and perhaps degrading.
But I think it's beautiful. A maker of the home.
A house is only wood and stone, but mother makes a house a home.
Home, that special word that can generate so many pleasant memories, just by speaking it. I love having that role -- being the one who can build a home filled with beautiful music, beautiful words, and beautiful feelings.
And while I know from first hand experience that you don't need a house to make a home, I've also learned that having a house can enhance homemaking.
So, as we've traveled and wandered (especially the last few years), we've been looking for that house (and country and community) to call home.
We tried to settle down in Costa Rica (the first time) and Atlanta, and India and Guatemala.
And when we came back to Costa Rica and had baby six here, we thought that this really would be the place. This would be the place to get residency, and a house, and a place to keep our books (we really love REAL books).
That's why we're STILL here, after 1 1/2 years. We wanted to set up home base. Once we'd done that, we would continue to Panama, then cross the Darien Gap into South America.
That's what we thought, anyway.
So how'd it all change?
Enthusiasm = Possessed by God
It's interesting, those small turning points in life. Events, experiences, words, books, that ultimately change the course direction of your life. It's happened to us over and over again, and led us half way around the world and back.
Since living here I feel we've reached fully-sustainable 'location independent' status, and this has been a hot topic with these two awesome families (who are both location independent as well -- Danielle even has a free skills training and how to get started video).
Location independence equals freedom and options. That's what these families have. And as they started talking about meeting up in Spain, of course they planted ideas in our heads.
Naturally we started thinking about Spain and talking about Spain and planning for Spain (as well as Bulgaria, and Greece and France and Italy and Morocco and Turkey and...)
And the more we thought and talked and planned and dreamed, the more intensely we felt the desire to go to Europe.
We're big believers in desire as a director of life. When you get enthused about something, it's a good sign that it's meant to be part of your life plan.
Enthusiasm has a Greek root, entheo, meaning 'god in us' or 'inspired by or possessed by god'.
Enthusiasm not only motivates and directs your life course, it also gives you the power to make things happen, overcome obstacles and reach big dreams.
So when Greg and I feel really inspired or enthusiastic about some idea, plan, vision or goal, we know that it's something to seriously consider doing. We believe it's God directing our life.
That's what happened when we started thinking about Spain (and the rest of Europe). We got enthused.
It's the same way we felt when we started Alaska to Argentina in 2011. We knew it was the next step because we were so enthusiastic about it.
We still feel excited about finishing Alaska to Argentina. We still feel (very) excited about exploring South America.
But we had reached a turning point. After baby #6 was born, we'd outgrown our overland rig, and had to sell it. We wanted a home base, but started feeling Costa Rica wasn't the place (for a lot of other reasons which would take another post to explain).
And we've now spent about 8 years (off and on) in Latin countries. We know the language. We understand the culture.
We feel very comfortable.
But the idea of new languages, new cultures, new foods???!!
Wow. Now that's an exciting challenge, a whole world of discomfort and experience just waiting to stretch us and help us grow. How scary and thrilling at the same time!
So we explored it, delve deep, examined obstacles and looked for solutions. Then we planned, and talked and planned some more.
But most importantly, we finally decided.
We decided that this was definitely the next step. We decided that this move would help us live a better story.
A good story, like any good movie, involves challenge and obstacles and personal growth and triumph. Moving to Europe was that challenge for us. It represented doing something outside of our comfort zone -- emotionally, mentally, financially, spiritually.
It's our 'better story'. And we knew we had to live it.
(At least for now. We fully intend to return to finish the second half of Alaska to Argentina. Of course, that could all change... 😉 )
How We Decided WHERE to Live
Once we decided to go, we then had to figure out logistics. Where would we live? What little village, town, neighborhood would we choose, in a place we'd NEVER been to before? How would we pick while still living on the opposite side of the world?
(Once upon a time we would have landed in country with no previous arrangements, like we did when we moved to the Dominican Republic... but now days we have careers and deadlines and need internet from the moment we hit the ground.)
Have you ever considered what a difficult challenge this would be? Have you gone through it yourself?
If you had the freedom to live ANYWHERE in the world, how do you decide? It's easy to choose where to live when you've been transferred there because of a job, or you have family, etc. Many boundaries have already been set.
But when you have few limitations determining where to look for a house, you have to narrow down options by establishing your own perimeters, based on what matters to you (this is actually harder than it sounds).
Originally, we picked Spain, because one-way flights from Costa Rica were affordable, and we thought landing in a country where we already knew the language would ease us into the transition a bit.
I looked into living in:
Barcelona (because TBEX would be happening nearby)
San Sebastian (because the Greasons wanted to go there)
The Pyrenees (for the mountains, and because I want to do the Camino de Santiago one day)
Malaga (to go to an Andrea Bocelli concert!)
Canary Islands (the Sundances are there now, and we have other German friends living there)
Ronda (because of this post by our friends)
...but each city and town has a neighborhood and surrounding villages, each with their own feel, culture and demographic. The more I searched, the more confused I became.
How do I choose?
It started to get really difficult and overwhelming for me. (No one knows how I suffer. 😉 )
So I went back to the 'drawing board' and focused in on what really mattered to us, and why we were making this move in the first place, since it would be easier to just stay put in Costa Rica, or head south to Panama:
Where are we meant to be -- where does God want us to go next?
Where would we like to have a home base (this is still high on our list, so lets go to a place we might consider living long term)
Where will it be affordable to fly to from Costa Rica, even if we live somewhere else?
Where can we find a house that is furnished and in our budget (with good internet!)?
What experiences does our family need to have next as part of their development and education? (church in English, a third and fourth language, and a brand new culture were all high on the list)
Using these basics as guidelines, I tried to stay in tune to 'clues from the Universe' -- coincidences, serendipitous happenings and experiences that could be leading us to where we need to go, if I paid attention. Emails from friends and strangers. Conversations. Facebook posts that grab my attention. I would follow through on ideas, inspirations and hints to see if they felt right or opened any doors.
No matter what, making a big change like this is a process. You feel like you want to know RIGHT NOW where you're going. I searched in Spain, France and Italy, examining rentals, doing the math on tickets and taxis. I wanted the decision made, the tickets bought, the house found... but it doesn't work that way.
You search and analyze and search and discuss and consider and reconsider and postulate... and on and on it goes.
But here's a few things that happened that finally led us to Germany:
My German grandmother passed away. I flew to the states for the memorial service, and I felt a strong connection to her character, her example and her legacy.
While there I stayed with my aunt and uncle who had lived and traveled to Germany and France. They painted pictures for me of the beauty and charm of the Black Forest and the Alsace region in France. I was hooked. (And of the Christkindlesmarkt at Christmas time!)
For months I had been getting notifications from one of my favorite airline sights (adioso.com) telling me that flights from San Jose, Costa Rica to Frankfurt, Germany were only $542. I now started paying attention.
My husband found a congregation of our church in English in an area just an hour south of Frankfurt (because of a military base that is nearby).
I finally found a house that would work for our family -- fully furnished, with good internet and with a deposit and monthly payment we could afford (most of the houses I found for rent in Germany that were available furnished, short-term were $2500+ a month or required a deposit of $3200)
Once these sort of details start falling into place, then you know this may be right. But then comes the hardest part.
You have to pull the trigger.
You have to actually spend the money and place the deposit, buy the tickets, sell your stuff and pack your bags.
There's a sickening sense of exhilaration and dread that happens just then. You wonder and question and second guess. Is it really right? Are we really making a good choice, doing the right thing?
But then you simply have to have faith and trust God and know that because you've made it this far, it's the right path. Take that next step, even if it feels like your falling off a cliff.
And if you do, an incredible thing happens. Instead of falling, you start to fly! You'll feel even more certain you're on the right path:
Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth that ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way.
Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.” -- William Murray
Now it's your turn. What can make your life a better story? What bold action can you take? What next step will challenge you, make you uncomfortable, help you to grow?
Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it!
Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now.
P.S. Maybe finances are holding you back. Maybe you need an income source that is location independent to help you live the life you're dreaming about.
If that describes you, then there's no better place to find an answer than with these free skills training videos
P.P.S. Still wondering about homeschooling in Germany? It IS illegal, but only for residents/citizens. As tourists, we can still keep 'world schooling' as we have all along! 🙂
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