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Reflection and Recap

Today is the final post of the 10 day blog challenge.


It's been quite an adventure, exploring goals, talents, dreams and how to create a life that aligns with all of these. 

 

Our oldest, Jan 2014. San Luis Provence, Argentina.

Our oldest, Jan 2014. San Luis Provence, Argentina.

I've talked openly about the challenges of coming back to the United States after 7 years abroad. We still have our old life to clear out. We have boxes and boxes that have been hanging over our heads from our old life here, waiting in storage until we (at some point) decided that we needed them or not. Now's the time. 

Even though we were living a minimalist lifestyle in Argentina, it wasn't entirely true... because we still had stuff, just not there. 

After completing this 10 day evaluation of what we are and what we want out of this life, the conclusion is that we need to simplify. We're here, back in the USA with all of our worldly possessions in one place again after all this time, and the purpose is not to be stifled by the rat race in the USA but to let go and move on- both literally and figuratively.

We are OF this, but we ARE NOT this. 

My memories don't rely on a stack of notebooks from high school.

My worth is not based on a pile of awards that I've won. 

My happiness is not determined by a craft room, family room or 3 car garage. 

I do not need a full basement or storage closet to hold all of my "necessary" possessions. They're not necessary, they're only sentimental reminders (most of which are long forgotten) of who I used to be.

I don't want the physical and mental weight of material possessions in this world to bring me down. 

Going back to my long-ago post discussing Marie Kondo's book "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up", I will hold each of these objects in my hand and ask if it's still bringing me joy. As was the case before, for the majority of items the answer is 'no'. 

As we've already been doing these last few months, we'll continue to clear our lives of materials that we no longer need. It's a process and it's not going to happen overnight. BUT- after 10 days of questioning why we're back in the USA when neither of us can really see a future here, it's much clearer now. 

This much-needed freedom from material possessions is also about freeing ourselves from who we used to be. That in itself is a grand realization. 

This adventure isn't over. Our current location is but a pit stop in a much longer journey, a necessary time to tune up and tune in. 


Location Independence: Finding Life/Work Balance

How could we balance life and work to be able to life anywhere? How could we plan to work just enough to make a living, while enjoying the richness of life from wherever we want to be in the world? 

I can tell you from firsthand experience because we lived a location independent lifestyle for 7 years. 

A sleepy baby F, January 2014. Overlooking Lago Perito Moreno, Bariloche, Argentina.

A sleepy baby F, January 2014. Overlooking Lago Perito Moreno, Bariloche, Argentina.

In March 2009, we took our 15-month-old daughter, our two Pugs and whatever luggage we could fit on the plane and we left the USA for Montevideo, Uruguay. After a year and a half in Uruguay, we wanted to get out of the city and spent a never-to-forget summer retreating to the beauty of Patagonia.

After another 5 months in Patagonia, we took an epic road trip with our-then-3-year-old through the Andes to Puerto Montt, Chile and drove north, all the way through Chile to Santiago. 

We ended up Córdoba, Argentina. We heard it was nice and family friendly, so we wanted to check it out. After a few nights in a hotel, we knew it was home and we were checking out neighborhoods and rental properties.

We found a house quickly, in a beautiful, walkable suburb. That house is where our second daughter was born, where both of our feisty old dogs died, and where we filled our family with joy for an incredible 5 years. 

During our seven years total living in South America, we traveled back and forth to the USA five times to visit family, traveled extensively around South America and even took a 6 week road trip around Argentina in Jan/Feb 2014. With two young kids. 

Through all of these adventures and moves, we worked from home. Needing only an internet connection, we created a life where we could work remotely no matter where we were.

Traveling was a bit more difficult with the kid/travel/work schedules, so we kept a home base and opted not be completely nomadic. When we were at home, it was life as usual. The girls would go to school and we would go to our computers to work for a few hours. Afternoons usually meant that Mr. Healthy Family had more work to complete because he had clients on the west coast of the USA, which brought a later day, but we ate all of our meals together as a family and we had flexibility throughout the day to go to our local shops, walk our girls to school or have a coffee date together after the girls were at class. 

Location Independence wasn't anything like being stuck in a stuffy office under fluorescent lights. We could sit and work on the patio, at our kitchen table or a coffee shop- and we often did.

We traveled when we wanted and didn't have to worry about a set allotment of vacation days or asking the bosses for time off. 

The only constraints we had were time zones and internet connections. 

A real family photo in front of Mont Fitz Roy, near El Chaltén Argentina-- where a shaved head is a true advantage!

A real family photo in front of Mont Fitz Roy, near El Chaltén Argentina-- where a shaved head is a true advantage!

Now we've been back in the USA for less than 6 months and our adventures in the Southern Hemisphere feel like a different world. It feels surreal, like I'm peering in on someone else's long-ago life --- but was ours, and it will be ours again.

Everything we've worked so hard to create is still right here. We haven't lost our goals. They're being changed a bit, polished and refined. We need this step in order to take the next. 

Location independence. It's wonderful, it's freeing. It's hard to give it up once you've tasted it, but like a haunting, long ago memory, it's still calling us back. We'll be back. 


Choosing Adventure

Adventure can mean a million different things to a million different people.... on a million different days.

The work week is done and we felt the need to stay close to home, to relax together and enjoy some peace and tranquility. We went to the pool. 

My 4-year-old, stretching her toes in the sunshine. 

My 4-year-old, stretching her toes in the sunshine. 

The pool was surprisingly quiet, which was perfect for us. We enjoyed the tranquility, while lazing in the late afternoon sunshine. The girls played in the sparkling water while sipped a large iced coffee and wrote in my journal, first at poolside, then reclining in the shade. 

Afterward, we all stretched out on lounge chairs while my oldest drew a portrait of my 4 year old. I rejoiced in the presence of these two wonderful little girls, knowing that they won't be this age for long. 

Sigh. It's days like this where I feel I'm on vacation and there isn't a care in the world. I love these lazy pool visits that help me to reconnect to peace and tranquility.

My adventure day is not adventure at all, but enjoying a peaceful afternoon with my family.


 

 

Action Cures Fear

I'm a perfectionist. If I know a task can't be done the way I want, I've traditionally taken one of three actions:

  1. I don't start it at all
  2. I leave it incomplete because it doesn't meet my standards
  3. I go back and go back and go back (so it's never truly done) because I see all the areas to improve. 

But with all of these, action cures fear. 

-The cover of my writing journal- with sticker from PassionPlanner. 

-The cover of my writing journal- with sticker from PassionPlanner

Pushing yourself to do a task, get it done and not become paralyzed by perfection is the key to accomplishing anything. 

My super power that was determined on day 4 was writing. With my new daily schedule that I detailed yesterday, I have structure and an incredible amount of focus.

My imperfect action, the step that I will take in order to break through procrastination, fear and overwhelm is writing. 

I find that free-writing first thing in the morning brings clarity to my thoughts and lets my inner voice come out. There are often unknown details or concerns holding me back from a certain decision that can only be excised through free writing. 

This free writing could be in the form of journaling or even a rough draft to a blog post like this. The only caveat is that it must be stream-of-consciousness writing with no links to insert or research to cite... writing that deals with thoughts, feelings and evaluation. 

Yes, I'll also devote time to other forms of self care, particularly yoga and walking. But writing will be the physical fitness of my mind and my soul. We all need a few quiet moments every day of introspection....to clear the cobwebs, set intentions and connect with ourselves.

I will write. 


Our Tribe. We Can't Do It Alone

Day 6 of Natalie Sisson's blog challenge is upon us and we're here to evaluate our business support network. Who helps us? Who gives us guidance? Who are the members of our tribe? 

Family is wonderful, but sometimes you need people who've achieved what you want to achieve. Someone who has been down the road that you're starting down now. 

Today is all about these incredible guides- 

There's not one "right" road to travel; there are a million different routes for a million different people.

As a traveler and adventurer, I can appreciate that everyone needs to find their own way and often, paths change over time. 

There are people that I've worked with and people I want to work with. They are my coaches, mentors and guides, whether they know it or not: 

 

Although I've know her for many years, Pam Enz has been my coach for the last year. We connected just as I was starting diaVerge.com and Pam has been an incredible guide while I've been navigating the waters of a start up wellness/activism business, planning an international move and life upheaval. I greatly value her experience, insight thoughtfulness and persistence. I couldn't be where I am without her. 


A friend of a friend, and someone I admire very much is Jackie Knechtel. She was just featured in Forbes for an incredible new program that she co-founded with Justin Faerman. Jackie lives life on purpose. She's an adventurer, a guide, living the freedom lifestyle and showing others how to do so as well. 

While I've always been drawn to Jackie, it wasn't until this exercise that I really felt the internal need to talk with her, to learn from her. It's very magnetic and unquestionably clear to me. Like a magnet, Jackie, I need to work with you. 

Not surprisingly, my last mentor is Dr. Richard K. Bernstein, MD. I've built my business based on his teachings for type 1 diabetes. I feel that he saved my life and I'm forever indebted to his knowledge and perseverance when no one else believed in his methods. Although I'm not in the medical field, I really must shadow Dr. Bernstein in his practice, based in New York. I know he's read my work online and said "she gets it" which is hugely humbling and motivating. 

 

While completely different people with different focuses, I will continue to work with Pam and start working with both Jackie and Dr. Bernstein. I need to learn from each of you.

I'm holding space for you. 


A Daily Success Plan: How I Make It All Happen

Today's blog challenge is to create a daily success plan for yourself.  Write a blog post about what you will do, when you will do it, and how it will get you closer to your dreams.

What my work looks like - except my coffee is much, much larger and the desk is, well, busier. 

What my work looks like - except my coffee is much, much larger and the desk is, well, busier. 

Since my workdays consist of 4 hours at the most (with a few short check-in times after that), I need to focus and get my work done in a short amount of time each day, with very limited distractions. 

I'm usually at home while working, so distractions abound. I need to recognize those distractions and schedule them into certain parts of my day so that they don't go undone. 

I really love the Pomodoro method, as Natalie Sisson mentioned in the description video for today's challenge. I've tried it before but I've never used it consistently. I see the benefits and know that it would help with my personal work style so I'm implementing it as I write this post. Anyone can focus for 25 minutes (okay, maybe not my 4 year old, but most people can!). With scheduled breaks, the work load doesn't seem daunting. Structure really is freeing and that short break is enough to use the bathroom, grab a cup of coffee, stretch or hop on the yoga mat for a sun salutation. 

My work time priorities are writing, research/learning, volunteer assignments and connecting with others.

 

All non-work socializing, laundry, dishes, cleaning, showering, dressing and eating will be completed before or after this work schedule. These activities have traditionally been wound into my "work schedule" but it's an inefficient use of the short work day that I have and an easy way to get distracted, derailing business momentum.  

This is the luxury and curse of working from home. 


My workday, My Success.

8:30-12:30 AM, 4 days per week

 

1.) 8:30-8:55 AM: 25 minutes of writing on www.Diaverge.com, my website promoting the low carb, whole food approach diabetes management. 

8:55-9:00 AM: break

2.) 9:00-9:25 AM: Continue writing and/or editing 

9:25-9:30 AM: break

3.) 9:30-9:55 AM: Research/Webinar/Professional Development 

9:55- 10:00 AM: break

4.) 10:00-10:25 AM: Complete Research/Webinar/Professional Development 

10:25-10:30 AM: break

5.) 10:30-10:55 AM: Online connecting with Facebook, Twitter, email 

10:55-11:00 AM: break

6.) 11:00-11:25 AM: Supporting website content: Photos, videos, links, Amazon store, etc.

11:25-11:30 AM: break

7.) 11:30-11:55 AM: Volunteer work, including PTA, Girl Scouts, etc.

11:55-Noon: break

8.) Noon-12:35 PM: Wrap up any unfinished website editing or email 

 

This 4-hour schedule consists of:

  • 2 sessions writing, editing (with another flex session at the end of the day to wrap up anything unfinished:  50-75 minutes. 
  • 2 sessions research/webinars/professional development: 50 minutes
  • 1 session supporting website content: 25 minutes
  • 1 session of email/social media: 25 minutes
  • 1 session Volunteer commitments: 25 minutes
  • 7 breaks: Totaling 35 minutes  

I'm also currently also completing a certificate program in diabetes education. The associated coursework will take place both in the morning work/professional development sessions #3, along with one hour in the evenings, 3 days per week. Totaling 4.5 hours per week. 

This 4-hour work day schedule will take place 4 days/week, creating a 16 hour work week.

This schedule is intentional, and leaves one weekday morning free for volunteer activities, grocery shopping, my frequent doctor's appointments, etc. 

I'm confident that this schedule will create the space within my work day to accomplish my most important tasks every day and avoid common distractions while also allowing some flex time each day. 

As a result, this thorough evaluation and schedule will help me to achieve both my short-term goals of 5,000 unique visitors/10,000 monthly page views on my website and long-term goal of living abroad again and running a successful independent wellness consulting company. 


 This blog post is in response to Natalie’s 10 Day Freedom Plan Blog Challenge Day 5

Superpowers. Super Me.

Today's exercise is to explore what we're good at, what we enjoy doing and what others see as our talents to determine our "Superpowers".

This isn't a place to be shy or humble. This exercise is intended to dig deep and toot our own horns; to really explore those things that make us who we are and as a result, help determine our calling.

awakening-675330_640.jpg

My Top 3 Superpowers: 

Writing:

Writing comes naturally to me. I love to express myself through the written word, and I always have. I feel better after writing, like some might feel after having a good cry or a meaningful conversation with a friend. I work through my thoughts and feelings when I write. It's an incredible release and I find significant personal growth when I am writing regularly. 

For as long as I can remember, I've loved writing poetry, stories and journaling. I love writing blog posts, but don't devote the time to it as I should.

I've been told that my writing is very "stream of consciousness", like a conversation. Although maybe not grammatically correct, but that tells me that it's approachable and real.

Taking Care of Others: 

My young daughters said this and although it wasn't on the list I made for myself, I see what they mean and I feel good about it. I feel a need to serve, to help others, to ease their suffering, even if in some small way. It's led me to work as a volunteer and to use my voice and my writing to help others feel loved and empowered.

Learning/Searching for Answers:  

If it's something I care about, if it affects the human condition and living a comfortable and fulfilled life in this world, I want to learn everything about it.

I care deeply about:

  • Travel/international living
  • Type 1 diabetes
  • Kids issues
  • Nutrition/food security
  • Mindful consumerism/minimalism
  • Environmental issues
  • Yoga/meditation

I've found myself diving deeply into all of these subjects recently and considering how we/I can help others explore these issues, too.

I love to learn and engage with others and search for truth using the written word. That's what all this boils down to; That's my calling, that is my goal in life. 


A Vision For The Future - A Perfect Day

Today's exercise is to explore what a perfect day looks like to me. What would I be doing, where would it take place? How would it feel? 

Based on my experiences in South America, this is my future: 

As I stretch and open my eyes, I hear the sound of songbirds in the tree just outside my window; skylarks, goldfinches and wagtails are all calling for me to wake up. 

There's a light breeze coming in the semi-obscured window. I sneak out of bed, and walk through the door, closing it gently behind me, trying not to wake my still-sleeping husband.

I walk to the kitchen, prepare the coffee grounds and water in the percolator, then put it on the stove. I grab a glass of cool, fresh water, throw in a slice of fresh lemon (pre-cut and in a bowl in the refrigerator) and drink it down. 

Planning for later in the day, I start the load of laundry already in the machine. The gentle hum of the water filling the washing machine overpowers the comfortable little hiss of the gas flame under the coffee. 

Then, I walk barefoot across the cool, rough tile floor to open up the rest of the shutters and let the daylight permeate every inch of the main part of the house. Although it's full-on sunshine outside, the light is filtered through the shutters and as I open them fully, I feel the warmth on my face. The eaves of the roof are wide, but the low morning sun slips under them perfectly, streaming light through the window panes and making beautiful trapezoidal patterns of sunshine on the tile floor. 

I stretch out my yoga mat and slowly, deliberately complete 3 sun salutation sequences. By this time, the coffee is done and I return to the kitchen to stop the coffee just as it's finishing percolating, but before the water reservoir boils dry and the coffee burns. I pour my mug and sit at the dining table for a moment of quiet reflection before I wake up the rest of my family. 

The girls share a room, big enough for the two of them and their things, yet still somewhat sparse. There's a large, ornately patterned rug that stretches across the floor, connecting their beds and creating the feeling of a room within a room. I go to my oldest daughter and rub her back, knowing that she's the crabbier of the two and takes longer to wake than the little one. After a few growls and groans, she's talking about her day, with hard blinks against the sunshine streaming in the window. I move to sit on the other bed and the little one takes a huge stretch, with an big arched back spine and thrown back. She opens her eyes and smiles at me, saying a cheery but drowsy "good morning". 

Their school clothes were prepared last night and waiting for them. They dress while I'm cooking some fresh eggs in local butter for breakfast. The three of us start to eat our eggs together as my husband comes down the stairs, pours a cup of coffee, scoops the last of the eggs in the pan onto a simple white plate, then sits down next to me.

We eat, chatting about the events of the day to come, then finish preparations for school. The girls grab their bags while I get the shopping basket and money to do my morning shopping. We walk the half a mile together, through winding city streets until we get to the small village school that they both attend. There are blooming flowers bordering the front sidewalk, and an open gate with staff nearby, welcoming  students to the front courtyard. I give each of my girls a hug and kiss as they join their class groups. There's a short flag ceremony and announcements, then the instructors usher the kids to their classrooms.  I give them both a wave as they walk inside. 

I'm now on my way to the market to buy vegetables and fish for tonight's dinner. I go to my favorite fish vendor, who knows that I like the heads cut off and the fish cleaned fully. As a foreigner, Im not accustomed to cleaning my own fish, although I've done it before. He chuckles as he sees me and gets to work with his thin and impossibly sharp fillet knife. Within a few seconds, he bags my order, I thank him and pay with a huge smile, grateful for the comfort and ease of the transaction, then I'm off to find produce. I visit a few different stands, buy what I need, then stop for some extra beautiful brown eggs. I buy a dozen, nestle them carefully in the basket on my arm, on a bed of vegetables, then begin my 5 minute walk home. 

I enter our little house and find my husband on his laptop in the back courtyard. I empty the basket and arrange the eggs and vegetables on the counter, then put the fish into a bowl and place it in our narrow refrigerator. 

The Bialetti is calling to me again, almost taunting me to have another coffee, so I empty the grounds from earlier in the morning and prepare it again for the next cup.

I grab my laptop and planner to schedule my day; There's three an a half hours to work until the girls arrive home from school for lunch. I sit down for a moment int he courtyard next to my husband and we talk about my morning excursion, what I bought at the market, and the announcements at school. The coffee starts it's familiar hiss, telling me it's ready, so I excuse myself and return a minute later with a mug full of steaming black coffee- so much larger than the locals prefer! 

My planner shows that I need to complete the final edit to the outline of my newest training program and start writing the week 1 component. I check email. Send a few replies, then get into my work. An hour and a half passes before I realize that I was completely and intensely in the flow of writing . My husband, still sitting next to me, asks a question and my trance is broken. I smile, realizing what had just happened, then answer and decide it's the prefect time for a break. 


The clothes in the washer are now clean so I go back into the kitchen and bring the basket of damp laundry out the back door to the courtyard to hang the clothes. I have a double laundry line stretched at an angle between the back wall of the house and the side wall of our neighbors's courtyard. I shake and hang each piece in the sunshine with wooden clothes pins, made grayish with their time outdoors.  I admire the beauty of the shapes and colors swaying gently in the light breeze.

My husband is also taking a break, having just finished with a phone call and is now chatting about his work as I sit down again. We talk more about what we need to accomplish that week, then he tells me that he can pick up the girls from school today. I need to make some calls anyway, so I welcome this opportunity to go back inside to temporarily get away from the chirping birds and a small dog that has just started yipping wildly somewhere in the neighborhood....


Why Do I Want To Live the Freedom Lifestyle?

TOday's exercise is to evaluate freedom and choice. Why do I yearn for freedom and what does it mean to me? 

Yesterday I wrote about why we need to find our focus-- with the conclusion that maybe we're exactly where we need to be, and although it's tough, it gives us a chance to focus and reevaluate our goals. 

Today, I'm questioning freedom.

This is not referring to the BIG basic freedoms, such as speech, press, religion and assembly. There are plenty of people living in this world that yearn for those freedoms which we take for granted every day. 

I have the luxury of choice; to choose and design a lifestyle that I want, that makes my heart and soul sing. I don't take this luxury lightly, because the majority of the world has never experienced this freedom and never will.  

Why do we miss the freedom that we used to have in Argentina and how can we get that back? How can we design our lifestyle here in the USA, and how does the quest for freedom affect our future goals? 

I must digress to a story from 21 years ago. I was 19 and traveling to Europe with my University Design Program. This was not my first trip to Europe, it was my third and I remember telling my Mom that I will live in Europe some day. It was so foreign, yet comfortable to me. So interesting in the cultures, people, clothing, languages. My Mom's family immigrated to the USA from the Netherlands in 1955 and being a first generation American with a love of travel, I knew she would understand the draw that I had to Europe. 

Fast forward to early 2008, when I had many more incredible international trips under my belt, a husband, newborn baby and a design business that was faltering due to contractors owing us lots of money. We placed liens on houses and fraudulent contractors refused to pay us for services rendered. 

We decided, as a couple, to take a great leap that we had discussed a million times before: life abroad. Our life in MN was stifling and was the exact opposite of freedom. We were slaves to the independent businesses that we created. The exact thing that was supposed to create freedom, took it away from us. If I were to do it differently now, I surely would, but live and learn. 

We loved the freedom we experienced in South America. We could live locally, without a car, walking or taking public transportation. We could take off on a weekend trip when we wanted, everything was new and different and exciting. Yes, there were challenges, but it was expected. We moved around, first landing in Montevideo, Uruguay, then Bariloche in northern Patagonia, then Córdoba, Argentina. We worked online part time and it payed the bills, since cost of living is much less than what we were accustomed to in the USA. 

We moved back to the USA because of a job offer and decided to try it on for size after 7 years abroad. This has been a very telling experience.

Yes, the grass IS always greener on the other side of the fence. You always want what you haven't got (at least we haven't got it YET), but now we're dreaming of Europe: of Italy or Spain.

 

We're dreaming of a little house with a clay tiled roof; a sunny garden filled with citrus, avocado and olive trees; a warm breeze coming from the mediterranean and ruffling the white gauze curtains. We dream of fresh seafood and produce, an walking to the market to buy that day's groceries.

We dream of slowing down and connecting with the land of our ancestors... of living life at our own pace and by our own rules.

We dream of the ultimate freedom to do what we want when we want, and not be a slave to the mortgage, to a full time job, or to the commute. 

We want the pace of the lifestyle we had in Argentina, along with the food and culture of Southern Europe.

That's what freedom looks like to me. Everything we are doing now, all of my writing and studying, all of Mr Healthy Family's building connections and experience, is building a program to be able to live independently, outsource the majority of our work responsibilities and live more than ever, within my (our) dreams.   


Pros and Cons of Argentina: Part 1 of 2

After our last post about the Pros and Cons of Uruguay, we of course had to follow up with our perspective of Argentina. We were in Bariloche for 5 months and now in Cordoba for 2 years. We love it here for many reasons and want to tell you about it. This one has been a much tougher list to write. Why do we love it here? Argentina has some very distinct problems and some of the country's economic challenges are getting worse by the day. The Uruguay list was relatively simple. We've been away from it for over two years. We've had time to reflect and consider our lives within that context.

It's like we can't see the forest through the trees right now.

And, our standard disclaimer: There is no perfect place and not everyone will agree with the following, but here's our take on Argentina.

I am addressing each point in the same order so show the switch from an Uruguay Con to an Argentina Pro for us. Hope you can follow my madness:

PROS:

  • Argentina is (Relatively) Cheap.  Where we were renting a 2 bedroom/1 bath house in Pocitos (Montevideo, Uruguay), we are now paying a little more than half to rent a 3 bedroom/3bath house with a pool in Cerro de Las Rosas (Cordoba, Argentina). Unfortunately, prices keep going up. Argentina does have 20% inflation, although they claim it is much lower. Since we are making dollars, Argentina is still much less expensive than Uruguay was for us. Kids items and electronics are still pricey (same as Uruguay) but housing, services and utilities are much less. 
  • Dry. We're in Cordoba which is at the eastern side of the Sierras Chicas, a small range of mountains that run north-south. We have hot and slightly humid summers and dry, mild winters. It is glorious and we love the climate here. Like Uruguay, we walk everywhere so weather is a huge factor for our day-to-day comfort and we have to plan accordingly. I have never paid so much attention to the weather before we moved to South America. 
  • No Sickness! Maybe we got through all of our 'Expat bugs'when we were in Uruguay but we haven't had more than the sniffles here- and that is with one kid in school. We had our share of sinus infections and flu in the past and are super happy to report that in Cordoba, we have not been sick at all (Knock on wood!) 
  • Residency Process Was a Cinch. We were amazed that after a 4 hour appointment in migracion (1 hour of which across the street at a cafe, waiting for them to process paperwork) We had our temporary DNI papers in hand and were waiting the official cards in the mail. The cards came within 2-1/2 weeks and we are thrilled to now be permanent residents of Argentina. We did have a little help because of our infant daughter, who is a dual citizen because she was born here but we also know people here who are foreigners and have gotten their residency within just a few visits to migracion. MUCH faster than the 2+ years it has been taking in Uruguay. 
  • Incredibly Welcoming. We've met so many wonderful people here, from introductions in the park, coffee shops and school. We are invited to peoples homes for asados, birthday parties and baptisms. People are so genuine and really mean it when they offer to help. It is a wonderful community.  
  • Walkable Residential Neighborhoods: We are in the Cerro De Las Rosas area of Cordoba, about a 20 minute drive NW of the city center. The houses are more typical suburban, but still connected to create higher density. We live 4 blocks from one main shopping street, 10 blocks from another, 8 blocks from G's school and the larger grocery stores have online ordering and delivery for what we can't get within our neighborhood. We get lots of exercise, put many miles on our stroller and walk nearly everywhere we need to go. If we head downtown, we take the bus (Diferencial line), which is plush and airconditioned :) (Disclaimer: this is the nicest bus line and costs double what the standard busses here do- about $1 USD)
  • Easy To Get Further. We have never owned a car in South America, so we walk, take public transportation and the occasional taxi all through the city and surrounding areas. We've also taken busses to Carlos Paz (just over the Sierras from Cordoba) overnight busses to Buenos Aires, Mendoza and on to Santiago, Chile. We've also rented a car, but transportation is really easy without a car of our own- even with two kids.
  • Goods & Materials. There is a wide variety of items available here, mainly because it is a much larger market than tiny Uruguay. Clothing is not the best quality all the time, so you have to be choosy where you shop. If you know what you are looking for, stay out of the malls and shop in the center of town, there are some good deals to be had. Not quite like shopping USA good deals (for clothing especially) but it's all relative. We've also found a great variety of imports, organic and specialty food items. You just have to know where to shop and maybe make a trip across town once per month or so to get them. :) 
  • Many 'Mixed' Families. We love the fact that there are so many expats here that have married Argentines. In fact, all of our expat friends, with the exception of a few missionary families, are Argentine/foreign mixed couples. They live here and are invested in a way that most transient expats are not. This give a great perspective on the ins and outs of the country and culture through people on the inside. In Uruguay, the expats we knew were like us - both members of the couple were from elsewhere. We really value all that we have learned through our local and expat friends throughout our journey.
  • Variety. There is a great variety of larger cities (Buenos Aires, Mendoza, Cordoba and Rosario) and a huge variety of climates/landscapes in a country as large as Argentina. From sub-tropical jungle in the northeast to semi-desert in the northwest, to mountainous ski-mecca around Bariloche and sleepy coastal beach towns on the east coast- all with the wide-open pampas inbetween. Argentina has a city and a landscape to fit nearly every preference.
  • Healthcare. I feel like I have won the healthcare lottery. I have Type 1 Diabetes, which in the past has made acquiring health coverage difficult at best. In Cordoba, we found APROSS, which is the provincial plan. Not only was I insurable through APROSS, coverage started from day 1 for both diabetes and pregnancy and also has 100% coverage of all of my Medtronic Insulin Pump supplies. The big deal: I pay $390 pesos per month for me and the baby. That's it. So, as of posting this, it is about $48 USD per month if you're using Argentina's  blue rate of exchange. More about this and other countries take on healthcare at a previous post, Healthcare in the Rest of the World. Since signing with APROSS, Argentina has past a law stating that people with pre-exisiting conditions can no longer be banned from coverage by private insurers, although they can be charged more. I have such amazing care and inexpensive coverage, I wouldn't dream of switching.

All that being said, I'm going to leave you with rainbows and sunshine and happy feelings about Argentina. Not all the case though, as we'll address the negatives in our  next installment. Stay tuned for the dark side of Argentina, plus a few things that are just plain bothersome. :)

 

What Makes Our Story Unique

Our goal for continuing this blog is to share our experiences living and traveling abroad as a family. We want to inspire people who may be considering the same and show that it is possible. You can follow your dreams and make living abroad a reality.

Although there are many other families who have lived abroad with many different circumstances, we think that our story is kind of interesting:

  • We are both from the Midwest of the USA. We are not a split-nationality marriage.
  • We're 30-something Gen-X-ers that have started our own businesses.
  • We are in South America by choice. No job transfers, no family here.
  • We've lived in 3 different houses, in 3 cities in 2 countries. Lived on the coast in Uruguay, the mountains of Bariloche and the edge of the pampas, in Cordoba.
  • Hubby is a vegetarian living in the land of beef
  • I've had Type 1 Diabetes for the last 10 years and use an insulin pump
  • We have two little girls now (started this adventure with one!)
  • Had a baby in Argentina (An unexpected home birth. We'll get to that story :)
  • Our 5-year old that is completely bilingual.
  • We speak English at home and Spanish everywhere else.
  • Traveled with two Pugs from the USA and into Montevideo, Bariloche and Cordoba. Our oldest, Pablo, died this past June.

So, in addition to traveling with kids and pets, balancing work online with sometimes sketchy internet/electrical connections, a maze of doctors and insurance options and a rich family life, we want to continue the story and create an open dialogue for comments and questions.

Are you considering moving to a foreign country? Just in the dreaming stage? You can do it and we're here to inspire you with our story.

 

Rebirth of UR MOVING WHERE!

The decision has been made. The commitment is real. We're back and blogging again about our lives in South America! Check out this short video about our plans: httpvh://youtu.be/YrX5ahqHKTc

We're in Cordoba, Argentina and absolutely love it here. In the coming weeks and months, we'll tell you about:

  • Renting a house as foreigners
  • Banking and exchange rates- some great tricks
  • Travel with kids
  • Location Independent lifestyle/Location Independent Parenting
  • Renting a car (or "You Better Be Able To Drive A Stick")
  • Places to visit in and around Cordoba Capital
  • The Medical System and Health Insurance
  • Looking back at our time in Montevideo, Uruguay and Bariloche, Argentina

Thanks for following our adventures and we look forward to hearing from you!

It's Here!

Today it’s here.  Autumn in Montevideo.  Cold, rainy and windy as all hell. I knew it would be on it’s way, but not quite so soon. Last year this time was still warm and mild, a late summer after we’d first arrived here.  It was glorious.

Today, after two full days of rain, the winds really picked up.  I do love the leaves blowing about and the amazing pink-flowering trees that have been all aglow in blossoms.  I’ve intended to get photos- but alas, the high winds today have probably stolen my opportunity.  Much the same thing happened with some glorious purple-flowering trees last spring. We shall see them again, I am sure.

I really look forward to this winter with roaring fires in our fireplace (note to self: order more firewood), knitting in earnest again, crisp sunny days when I walk G to the jardín, and a plethora of warm beverages. After a year here, I am finally ready to take up the habit of drinking mate.  It makes complete sense to me now. Cool, damp, blustery days were made for mate.  Just to refresh your memories: Mate is the drink typical of Uruguay and Argentina that is served in a hollowed out gourd and carried with a thermos of hot water, ready for the refill.  It is a perfect way to maintain a toasty drink at the ready all day long and with minimal effort.  I’ve got a feeling that my winter will be much more comfortable!

Looking back on it, I am so thankful for our amazing getaway on one of the last perfect beach weekends this summer. Yes, I know, I still have two more parts to write about that saga, but hey, now that it’s cold, I’ll definitely spend more time indoors writing.  There’s just so much LIVING to do, it’s hard for me to sit and journal everything.

It all boils down to this: Another season, another change, another side of Montevideo.  We learned from last year.  We'll do a few things differently this fall and winter.  Just try to avoid falling branches in this wind...

Thanks to Our Readers!

Thanks to all of you who have been sending us email, commenting on our posts and 'voting' in the polls! We've been working to get back to everyone and we're excited that we have so many readers.  I'm nearly caught up on responses.  We also LOVE comments on our blog posts- new or old. Don't be shy! Of course I have a list of potential posts that I need to write, including a new series that is in the works.  I've also been editing some of our previous posts with updated information.  Life in a new country is a constant learning experience! If you haven't looked back in our archives for a while,  now is the time to do it. Check out our information, observations and rantings.

We're excited to see spring right around the corner in our part of the southern hemisphere. Energy is high and we can't wait to get out to the beaches in another month or two. October and November are going to be great months here and I already know of a few families planning to arrive then. When are YOU going to join us in Uruguay???

All Our Best,

Lisa, Brad and G

Do Your Homework

Our adventure started long before we stepped off the plane at the Carrasco Airport, Uruguay on March 26, 2009. We've been planning this move for over a year, with an exploratory trip to MVD in March 2008 (with then-3-month-old Geneva in tow). On that trip, we spent 7 days in Montevideo, two nights in Colonia and 3 nights in Buenos Aires.

Blog Housekeeping

I have a few topics in the works about why we're here and our goals.  I'm also still working on my list from the other day... but for today, we're sorting photos/adding to previous posts that may be missing some and doing general housekeeping on the site.  I know there are typos out there and I am going to find them!!

Here's a weird little story...

When we started this blog  we had to choose a theme...and we did.  A theme provides the look and feel of the blog. There are 1000s of themes available for Wordpress. Lisa and I came across Minimahl by Ahlera. We knew the moment that we saw it--we have to use this!  It was new, fresh and clean. We happily plugged it in and away we went. The next day I thought it would be nice to see who designed the theme. I went to the website and saw an Uruguayan flag and phone number in the corner immediately. Are you kidding me!?  So I shot off an email.  Below is the story from the developer Daiver. We will be grabbing drinks very soon. I might even line up a tennis match on the clay courts.

15 APR 09 Minimahl’s most impressive story yet Posted by Daiver Pedemonte

Last week we released Minimahl, our free WordPress theme. We thought it was bound to bring interesting stories to our studio, mostly because of the wide variety of themes of blogs. We were curious to see who would adopt it and what modifications people would make.

Without a question, the weirdest story came via email from a guy named Brad.

Here’s an excerpt of the email we got from him:

My wife and I just chose your Minimahl theme for the first version of our new blog — urmovingwhere.com. The blog is about our recent move to Montevideo, Uruguay! We just checked out your profile to find that you’re in Uruguay! Of all the themes that we could have chosen–we chose one by a developer in MVD/BsAs area!

This coincidence is really weird, especially considering that the theme had just been released after several delays, they had just arrived at Montevideo, and they had just started the blog. Seriously, what are the odds that they pick out a first theme that shared so much with them?

Anyway, Brad and I have become good e-buddies as we share several interests regarding the Internet. I would have never expected something like this from a free WordPress theme, and certainly not so soon after the initial release.

As I write this, I’m sitting down in front of a developer (we’re working late) and he just commented, without knowing that I was blogging this, about the whole situation and how strange it was.

Anyway, we’re happy to have Brad using Minimahl and very satisfied to see that so many people have adopted it as their theme.

As of right now, Minimahl has been downloaded over 900 times from WordPress’ official site. If you want to take it for a spin, you may download the latest version here: http://wordpress.org/extend/themes/minimahl

We’re already working on version 0.9.8, so expect that soon.