Lisbon: Moving and Growing


“I think you travel to search and you come back home to find yourself there.”
― Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Hey you,

By the time this gets to you, it will have been a  good two weeks since moving to Lisbon. The story of moving to Lisbon actually goes back almost 5 years ago. This is when my sister and her partner and I went on an amazing 10 day roadtrip through Portugal.  All to say, that, there I was third-wheeling in a beautiful country. After 10 days, driving through Porto, Coimbra, to Sintra, to Cascais and Lisbon, I was so enchanted by Portugal. Like a little southern sunny gem tucked away just for the curious to find.

When we finished our last exhibition on Black Masculinity with @notthenorm.platform – I knew that winter was coming lol- I was open and looking for a new job. I decided, why not look beyond Denmark? The first place that came to mind was Lisbon and I just started sending applications for jobs I found interesting. That was the beginning of November, and by the 25th I had gotten a job offer in Lisbon that I felt could be a good fit (even if just as a landing job) and had 5 days to leave before my first day at work.

When I arrived on a Friday, it was grey, yet still as charming as I remembered it. My uber-driver was really friendly and helpful, I saw people running with shorts and T-shirts and others walking around with a simple denim jacket. In winter. My heart smiled. I was once again far away from home and approaching the project of making a new home in a new place for a while. My mom, before I left told me that if she was me, at my age, with nothing really tying me down, she too would be traveling all over the world. She has always blessed my adventures and a part of me knows that sometimes when I venture out, when I try new things, I am also doing so for all the ancestors in me.

I am fortunate to have a life that allows for the mobility I have and I know that through my history, many women and men have paved my way through sweat and limitations. So that today, I can have options. So that I can be 30 and not have kids, not have a proper home, not have to be in a traditional relationship, not be confined to one worldview or role in life. I know I am fortunate in that sense, that I can pursue the life I want and mold with patience and space to take risks and welcome adventure. You know, that too is a privilege, the freedom to take risks knowing that your collateral damage will most likely be low. You have little to risk, so you are free to make more unconventional moves in life. I know my mother, at my age, did not have that. She had to make most of her moves and take risks towards a better life with the full responsibility of her little children. Today, I have the freedom I have, because of the moves she dared to risk making. I hope someday, not only my children but my mother too, will benefit from how far I am able to dare go. Because of her.

I just needed to make space for that reflection because I know it is a big part of the thread that threads my path in life. I know if you take time to reflect on your own life too, you will know that that is the case too for you. Standing on the shoulders of giants who dared ;).

Okay, back to Lisbon. I spent my first day roaming around. I took my camera with me because it felt like a friend I could share the experience with. I took pictures of plants, made videos of sounds, light, corners and anything I wanted to be stored as a first impression. I loved the charming streets and the little colorful homes squeezed together. I enjoyed how I was slowly picking up on the Portuguese of Portugal thanks to my time in Brazil. This was another reason why I wanted to come to Lisbon, to continue improving my Portuguese. Also, there are so many Brazilians in Portugal, so it feels like a little part of Brazil closer to Denmark.

I am also working my first proper 8/5 job (yes, not 9/5) and at first hearing that I needed to work for 40 hours a week, I was a little floored haha. I have been able to get by in life with mostly doing part-time or freelance work. Also, that is still what I aim to continue to work towards in the future. For now, however, the job I am learning to do is actually a good experience. Especially learning and practicing holistic living in a space that does not always scream that. I know, especially since I still want to continue towards the path of working as a holistic healing and living educator and facilitator, that I will be working with people, who will most likely be having conventional jobs too. I want to learn how to create a holistic and zen lifestyle even when still in the busyness and less alternative settings.

I usually enjoy viewing my life from the lens of an explorer, curious about the human condition and needs. I love learning about the simple ways one can continue on a path of least resistance and that feels most aligned. Since going through a heavy and dark depressing few months, some time ago, recovery for me has been learning to create and keep calmness within. Learning to listen and observe without absorption. Learning to mind my mind, so I can mind my mental health. Infusing spirituality wherever I can, in open spaces and the hollow forms of everyday life. I told the universe not to let me get any job unless it was the right fit for what I needed to experience or learn next. I asked for ease and low resistance to be the sign that I was on the right path. So, far, moving to Lisbon has been exactly that; it has felt like downstream action, in flow, with ease and the right space for me to be at this moment.

What I hope to gain from this experience is, well, experience. Experience in the work I am doing (will tell you more about that another time), experiencing a new way of life, somewhere else. Experience managing my wellbeing in an environment that is not always as easy, but neither, makes it totally impossible. Practicing a softer form of strength? Meaning; patience, compassion, trust, faith, flow, and calmness.

I am also really inspired by the way of life here. Even though Lisbon is a growing city and very busy, life here is a little slower, our 8 hours of work (in an office might I add) don´t feel like we are being whipped to do nothing but work for 8 hours straight. However, the 1 and half hour break per workday can be spread out nicely to cut up the workday into manageable sizes, I feel. Socializing is a big part of the work, getting tea or coffee and taking little walks here and there.

Food is so much cheaper here! Which I totally love and am here for! I also love the one-hour eating break instead of the half-hour I was used to in Denmark in working environments. Something humane about being allowed to eat your food in calmness and with ease. I even find that walking home to eat and back again, adds in a nice 20min walk, which is really great I feel for body and mind after sitting for a few hours.

I am enjoying, as mentioned earlier, infusing my holistic practices into a more ‘corporate world’ too. Practicing mindfulness and including a balance of being and engaging with everyday situations and stressors too. Enjoying finding ways to not only bloom in fertile soil, but what the last few months of mental recovery have taught me is, how to create fertile soil wherever you are. To not always be stuck in seeking mode: “when I find or get, then I will bloom” – kind of thinking. Instead, knowing, intuitively, that within me, always, is all I need to balance my inner world and peace. By watching my thoughts, my actions, intentions and focus, I will be able to stay aligned and in tune with myself, regardless of where I am. It feels like asking to learn to become a skillful sailor instead of only asking for calm seas. Even though obviously, I do welcome the calmer and easier seas too. I just prefer to depend more on my own inner mastery than trying to control external factors. Living in a foreign and different environment, where things run at a different pace, where people relate to you differently is a great environment to practice inner alignment as your main foundation.

And so, a new adventure begins sis 🙂 and here we are, trying to take it all in, fully, while working to stay grounded.  Stay courageous and willing to grow, to bloom, wherever and from whatever life shares with us ;).

On that note, I hope that life finds you blooming and willing to keep learning how to master yourself. How to turn any moment or situation into good old manure for your flourishing garden. Whatever season, you might find yourself in, take the opportunity to ask yourself, consistently and compassionately “what can I make of this moment or situation of my life, that will add value and character to my humanity?” You will be surprised how much of a difference such an approach to life, challenges, and blessings can change your life for the better.

I send you love, light and courage

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