Exactly one year ago today at 08:00 local time we landed in Lisbon. If you haven’t already read about our experience at the airport that day, take the time to read it now (especially if you have a pet). Next year (i.e. next week) we’ll get back to places we visited, our construction project, and life as an expatto Portugal. Today, permit me to share some of the personal lessons I have learned this year. Not all of them…just three.
I Lack Discipline
School always came easy to me. I was in the accelerated classes in high school and graduated college with a 3.97 cum. However, I am not the most disciplined person…in fact, I typically utilize my “inherent intellect” to compensate for my lack of discipline. So when I purchased a Portuguese language course, in December I assumed I would quickly catch up with Denise (who started with apps in August). I have not! My Portuguese language skills are abysmal. I can only conjugate in the present tense and only for the most common verbs. Comprehension…none… while Denise can read just about anything and typically understands the gist when spoken to by a native speaker.
Every morning I watch Denise study for 20-30 minutes and think to myself mañana…then think “that’s Spanish you idiot”. I have wasted an entire year. So while I have never been big on New Year’s resolutions…here goes. I will force myself to study 20 minutes each morning before I can do anything else.
Garbage in … Garbage Out
I worked in the computer industry for 30 years. We used the phrase “garbage in, garbage out” all the time. Shortly after we moved to Portugal I realized that the peace I felt was because I no longer consumed 3-5 hours of cable news (commentary) a day. Yes, I still read US papers…but even that has dropped off as the months have gone by.
But recently I realized that I could subscribe to Rachel Maddow’s and Nicole Wallace’s podcasts and listen to their entire show the next morning. I did this for about one week…and felt the difference. Anger…angst…depression.
Sorry ladies…you are both highly intelligent, funny, and occasionally snarky. I admire these things in a woman. Rachel, I want your hair and Nicole, well I just want you. But no, I have to stop this before it is too late. My mind is a terrible thing to waste or pollute.
One Foot in Front of the Other
I watched over 2000 men and women (every shape, size, and age) participate in the Ironman Triathlon in Cascais earlier this year. Every participant started by putting one foot in front of the other on the beach and ended the ordeal hours later the same way. Haruki Murakami, quoted above, is right…repeat as often as necessary to finish. That race was a perfect metaphor for the last year.
We didn’t know how banking worked here…but we could learn. Not all at once. But one step at a time.
We didn’t know how to get a numero de utente, our public health number, since our SEF meeting was canceled. But we figured it out little by little. And with that and some persistence, we got vaccinated and boosted. Thank you, Portugal.
Buying an old building and making it into a home is also a new “foreign” experience. And yes, we are reminded every day that we don’t yet know all the steps and costs and regulations and…
But we don’t need to know everything now…with time and patience and some help from new Portuguese friends it will become clear. We just need to have the courage to put one foot in front of the other.
There is a lesson here for the readers who are thinking about applying for a D7 visa and write to me about how overwhelming it is … how complicated it seems. Yes, we often felt that way too. And if you are doing this alone, I agree it seems even more overwhelming. But, trust me, you can do it. Have a question…write to me. I might know the answer, and if I do I will share what I think I know. No, this is not my business. I don’t charge for my advice or get commissions if I refer you to someone. I will simply share our experience…hoping that it helps.
Next Week: find out in what areas Portugal ranks #1, and a house update.
I read an interesting post by another Substacker. She made me think about the words I am using. As we intend to stay here, it appears we are immigrants. More on that in a future post.
Thank you for these words of hope. I am still at the starting line. January is the month for shedding my existing life--the comfortable, the known, my worldly possessions as I prepare to sell the condo. Where will I live in the meantime? How will I get the D7 done? Will I find an apartment in Portugal in time? Fear of the unknown (and there is a LOT that is unknown) sometimes makes me freeze in place. But it's words of hope such as yours that keep me going. Thank you!
I read that post as well. I used to use "inBetweener", (as I am not a citizen and not a tourist), but she's right, we are immigrants. Here in Bosnia and Herzegovina, we "immigrants" are under the office for "foreigners". Have a wonderful transition into the New Year, Bests as Ever 🎊