February 2023

Welcome to my February 2023 newsletter. This month has been dominated for me by travel to Europe. A solo journey made up of two parts. First I stopped for a week in England to visit my mother. From there I travelled down to Portugal for two weeks.

Nothing specific was planned for the England leg of the trip. I simply spent some quality time with my mother, did some odd jobs for her around her apartment, and allowed myself to rest and get over jet lag which I find can hit me pretty hard when I travel east to Europe. It is easy being with my mum. Just outside of my mother’s front door is Durham Downs, a large, 400 acre area of common land that is protected my an old statute that prevents any building on it. I value being able to spend time up there, walking, breathing in the smells as only the nature of Britain can provide, and just sitting and being. Time in Bristol, and time on the Downs grounds and nourishes me. It fills me and reminds me where home is.

From Bristol, I flew down to Lisbon, Portugal. As I said in this post at the end of last month, my wife and I purchased a small townhouse in Portugal at the end of the summer of 2022. While we plan to spend longer there this year, I suggested that I head over there at the start of this year to check on the house, collect orders that were waiting and be around for people to come by and do a few odd jobs.

The visit to Portugal started off as a challenge. I walked into a cold house, something that I had not been used to probably since my student days. I huddled round a fire, and sandwiched myself between two duvets with my clothes on as the house slowly warmed up. Having blood that has been warmed by the sun of Hawai’i did not help with the cold. However, with time, as I started sorting things out and making myself more comfortable, I got into a rhythm of life there. Due to commitments at the house, I did not get out to see much of the country outside of the town of Alcácer do Sal. My Portuguese only stretches to a few words and so my communication with locals was limited. But I felt welcomed to the town and look forward to deepening my connection with the place and new neighbours.

More interestingly for me is how I used my time there. Or perhaps I might say, how my being in Alcácer and doing what needed to be done while I was there, impacted on personal plans that I had during my stay.

I had planned while I was there to do some writing, to prepare for a presentation that I am scheduled to give at the upcoming Micro Camp 2023, and if time allowed, at least lay the ground work for some new episodes of my podcast, Behind the Thoughts, which has been quiet for over a year now. I had not planned to do any of this during my stay in England. That was a time for rest, and spending time with my mother. However, while there was a lot to do in Portugal, I thought that there would be time around that doing to at least break into some of these personal goals. As it was, nothing happened.

I have mulled over this a lot, not least because as my time in Alcácer came to and end, I started feeling as though I had squandered an opportunity to get things done. I was alone. Apart from meeting with and waiting for deliveries or contractors - and there was a lot of waiting, sometimes to only be told that I would have to wait longer - doing odd jobs around the house and going out to pick things up, evenings and at times points around the day, were mine.

Time has offered me the opportunity to reflect and while I still wonder if I could have got something done, I am sitting more comfortably now with the outcome, and hopefully have learnt something from it. The last article below, _ Resting in the Anonymity of Travel_, speaks to background of my reasoning. I will touch in on the contents of the article here, while allowing the post itself to say more.

I identify as a HSP, Highly Sensitive Person. In essence if there is too much going on on an emotional and physical level, I can be left exhausted due to a lot of internal processing. Once the exhaustion sets in, tasks that take more internal power I simply don’t have the bandwidth for, regardless of how much I want to do them. My evenings for the most part were spent relaxing, or taking a walk. That is what I needed - to recharge. I was aware of tasks that I wanted to do, but didn’t have the mental space to get them done. I have to accept that. This has left me with the question, “Is there a way to get bite size amounts of a task done? Instead of looking at the task as a huge project in front of me, can I bite off a small corner?” I know that my friend Michael Nobbs has some thoughts and ideas on this. I practice them sometimes….other times I either forget or fall into old habits and exhaust myself.

Life is certainly not short on lessons to learn from.

A lot of the posts that I have shared below document my time away, both in England and Portugal. I hope that you enjoy them.

As ever, thank you for reading.