Making A Living Or Making A Life? (My Most Favorite Spanish Lesson)
Updated: Feb 28, 2021
TOUCH DOWN, DONOSTIA TOWN!
You may be wondering why and how I came to be a travel bee…
And while I wasn’t always this way, one might say I always had that “wandering soul” just (impatiently ;) waiting to take control.
My first majorly influential, international traveling experience took place my junior year of college, where I was lucky enough to study abroad…(thanks Mom and Dad)!
Looking to do an abroad, live n’ learn for cheap too? Check out USAC!
Because, believe it or not, living abroad for 6 months in Spain was less than a semester attending UNR, and paying rent in Reno, NV.
Take THAT “travel is for the top 20%” thinkers! ;)
Anyways - my first, free-from-parents, personal traveling experience brought me to the Basque Country.
A niche spot on the North coast of Spain, San Sebastián (otherwise known as Donostia), is a serene-yet strong, sexy, and social city, standing stark on the border of southern France.
Home to two of the top ten restaurants in the world, part of the Pyrenees mountain range, and (most importantly, home of the Pintxos!), if you've had the opportunity to visit San Seb, you know what a special place it is.
And IN this special place, I was especially spoiled...balcony and everything ;)
Oh, the IRONY of realizing the nicest places you’ve ever lived were outside of the US…
“Travel is for those with tons of money” thinkers, I’m looking at you again. ;)
I EVEN had an apartment with a view when I lived in Ecuador too! But we’ll save those stories for another day.
We’ll get all into the deep, delicious, and down right unbelievable specifics about San Seb, (and Ecuador!), so you’re set with an “insider scoop” when you go next, but today I want to talk to you about a transformation in understanding that travel has gifted me with.
But first - let me give you a wittle bittle bit of background.
(In case you’re new here, I write (and talk!) in a baby-but-also-puppy voice sometimes...sowwwwwy. ;)
MYRIAM & MY MOST FAVORITE SPANISH LESSON
While living in San Seb for 6 months, I was immersed into a fast-track, Spanish system of study, with the goal to take you through all 4 main levels that lay the foundation for fluency.
Which means, we saw the same teacher, in the same class of 9 students, sitting in the SAME chairs, every dang day.
And like a little Spanish family we became!
My teacher was a grey, wiry haired woman who smoked cigarettes and was Basque and BLUNT AS HELL.
And she is - to this day - one of my absolute favorites.
Myriam was focused on fostering our comprehension of the Spanish language, but she made it her mission to equally educate us on the Spanish culture.
When I came to her one morning, upset with the B+ I got on the most recent test, (*recovering* perfectionist, remember?) she looked at me with a blank face, lifted her slightly concerned brow, chuckled, and cocked back, “You Americans crack me up!”
Seeing the confusion on my face, she continued, “Why are you Americans so obsessed with being the very best?”
(Or something like that...I wasn’t exactly “taking notes” at the time ;)
Realizing I had no rebuttal for her, she continued to tell me her observations of American students (like myself) being upset with what, to Myriam, seemed like a very GOOD grade...even a grade to be proud of.
And although the details of the Spanish grading system are a bit different (with scores ranging from 1-10 instead of A-F), (Which - btw - does anyone know what ever happened to E?!) she explained it like this:
Here in Spain, we are just happy having what we need to enjoy our lives. And, for students here, that means a strictly passing grade.
You see, we are okay with being average, and we are open to the ordinary.
We are not focused on being the best, but on simply living our best lives, in the way that feels BEST for us.
(Okay now I KNOW that wasn’t a direct translation, because she wasn’t really a #BestLife kind of chick, but you get the jist ;)
Seeing me still soaking in her mentoring message, she continued…
On the other hand, you Americans always want to be the BEST, and to beat all of those both behind and beyond you.
You always want MORE.
You want it all, and you want to have it all at once, all of the time.
But MY question to you is...WHY?
TO MAKE A LIVING, OR TO MAKE A LIFE
Now, if you have been to Spain, this won’t come as a shock.
You know how they live.
You see how they spend their time, and how sacred sharing those seconds smiling alongside the people they love (AND good food and good booze!) is.
You’ve seen how they live...to LIVE.
And if you have YET to spend your second in the sun of Spain, imagine:
Streets lined with laughter.
San Seb is a smaller city, so most people walk everywhere.
Spaniards also rarely host in their homes, which means it’s customary to take it to the streets, in order to meet your friends out for a drink!
And to have a drink without also having at least ONE pintxo in Spain and/or the Basque country? Basically the equivalent to going to the movies and not getting popcorn, or a rave without a glow stick and Kandi bracelet...You CAN do it, but people may look at you a little weird!
POUNDS and POUNDS of hanging jamón.
Having jamón hanging in the windows may look like a marketing technique, but the tradition tells a different story.
Back in the Middle Ages, jamón was hung in Spanish, street-view windows in order to ward off prosecutors during the rule of the Christian Monarchy.
Sill connecting the dots? The jamón was hung as a symbol of the residents allegiance to Christianity, as those within the Jewish religion were prohibited against consuming pork.
Insanely beautiful architecture.
With eclectic influences from Gothic to Rationalist, San Sebastián’s unique architectural style creates an incredibly aesthetic environment, making it a go-to destino, commonly chosen by those looking to retire in luxury!
No, but really - the elderly people there are like so, SO badass...but we’ll talk about that another time too. ;)
And (of course!):
Cooking wine comes out to $2 a bottle, and high quality, drinking wine starts at 5...dollars.
(Their “happy hour” starts at any time they choose, and often well before 5. ;)
But above all the architecture and ancient brick buildings, the thing I admired most about Spain was how the people show up for life each and every day.
Like Maya Angelou once said, “I’ve learned that making a ‘living’ is not the same as ‘making’ a life.”
And BOTH Maya’s AND Myriam’s messages can serve as a guiding light.
SOME TYPE OF SUMMINSUMMIN
Now, of course Myriam didn’t mean EVERY Spaniard, just like she didn’t mean EVERY American.
She just meant some American “perfectionist” people like me.
And maybe, like you too?
You see, the invitation is extended to ALL types of people, from ANY kind of country - whether you’re Basque, Spanish, or some other type of summinsummin.
Because the point of me telling you this isn’t to say your calling is determined by your country, or that “perfectionists” are people that belong to only one place.
In fact, that couldn’t be farther from the case.
I’m sharing this because, over the past year, I’ve learned that your WHY is more important than your how, or even your WHAT...
And while we will talk about ALL of those things we want to work towards understanding, attracting and achieving within this blogspace, what I would like to invite you to first think on: WHY do you want it all?
And by ALL...I mean ALL-of-the-things that you want! ;)
Want me to go first?
WELL IF YOU TIE ME UP AND PIN ME DOWN...Sheesh!
(But seriously - you at least better do the official popcorn pass first...;)
My “why” is to inspire myself and others into seeing and believing that there IS A WAY to achieving EVERYthing we want in life, in wholesome harmony, and that the suffocating life I lived between the black and the white is NOT all that there is.
Another ‘WHY’ of mine is to show my future lil mama’s that they can be “on it,” while simultaneously being honest with their authentic experience, and thus can make their own unique space in the world, without needing anyone’s permission but their own.
To show them that they can find a way to make all of their wildest dreams come true, as long as they intentionally lean in to learning those magical methods to balance it all too.
Or like an insanely inspiring entrepreneur I love, Jenna Kutcher, once shared:
I want to make my own representation of what it means to be a successful professional, business-loving, BOSS human, instead of simply trying to conform to what’s already out there.
(*Cough Cough*) Clean shaven, white men in suits - we’re looking at you!
...And I don’t have to look far because my boyfriend (Spence) is one of them. ;)
Hi baby, I WUV YOU!
The thing is: There’s nothing wrong with white men in suits.
(Seriously though- I clearly LOVE me a man in a suit. ;)
But there’s also nothing wrong with that NOT being you, and there’s no guidebook that says it “should” be in order to seek out “success” - in whatever way you define it.
And so, my ‘WHY’ is to hopefully show YOU that you can do it all too, and that we are in this, (and stronger!), together.
One united front of uniqueness, with every flavor of fun!
So...shall we DO IT?
Start here, start now, and I suggest you start with this question:
Why do you want the things that you want?
What ignites that fire within you to achieve, embrace, embody and BE more?
Next Wednesday, meet me right back here, and let’s continue to explore!
"Culture, Art and Architecture" - https://www.sansebastianturismoa.eus/en/to-do/culture-art-architecture