I would have replied emphatically, “I'm not a writer!”
“I'd love to live in Europe, but how would that be possible? I have a job here and health insurance. You know how expensive health insurance is!”
I read somewhere that women in their 60s have a burst of creativity. I hoped for it, but didn't see that happening in my life.
Then quite by surprise, my first Unforgettable Aussies book evolved. A few Facebook posts about famous foundation dogs turned into an avalanche of photos and comments from my Facebook friends. Fascinating stuff. Extremely valuable Aussie history. I decided to collect it all and preserve it as book.
And suddenly I was an author. That magical burst of creativity had happened.
Meanwhile, the idea of living in Europe kept playing in my mind. The warm, sunny weather in Spain was appealing. I checked into health insurance. It was surprisingly affordable in Spain. I could rent an apartment for about half of what I paid in the States. Maybe I could afford to live there….
Then, I accepted two judging assignments for May 2017—one in Germany and one in France. Possible travel logistics: I could travel back and forth across the Atlantic twice (ugh!), I could take a month-long unpaid vacation, or hey—maybe I should just move to Europe! Not the logic everyone would use, but it made sense to me!
I decided to make The Move.
Putting my wild idea into action required serious planning. I needed to: 1. Acquire a Spanish residency visa. 2. Sell my house and give away almost everything including my antiques and pottery collection. 3. Figure out logistics of overseas planes, trains, and automobiles.
My first eight months have been filled with beauty, fun, excitement, travel, writing and research on the book, and some frustration with trying to function in a foreign language.
I'm very happy to be an expat in Spain!
The architecture and beauty of this city never cease to amaze me. I LOVE Valencia. For the first time in my life I finally feel like “I'm home.” I discover gorgeous art and scenery almost every place I go. A casual stroll to my doctor's office turned into a memorable outing with my camera when I spotted an ornate fountain, a boulevard decorated with poinsiettas for Christmas, and a historic statue overlooking an old bridge.
I saw a woman with a dog in the L'Eliana post office. The dog was obviously a purebred of an English breed. Unusual in Spain. I asked the woman if the dog was a Field Spaniel. The woman spoke English and said the dog was an English Cocker Spaniel. I was invited to coffee, and that day I became fast friends with Georgie and her dog Mollie.
The Altes Museum in Berlin was incredible. I spent so much time examining the pottery and sculptures that I'm sure the museum guards thought I was going to steal something. From Berlin I went to Leipzig for my first World Dog Show. My friend and fellow judge Sheila Polk invited me to share a room with her. What fun! We had a great time being lost in the maze of city streets, no thanks to an uncooperative GPS. We also have hair-raising stories to tell about Sheila's lost dog and lost luggage. (Both were eventually retrieved.)
Ok, so I probably don't study enough. But I love the challenge of being immersed in Spanish culture and being able to function (sort of) in a new language. When my vocabulary fails me, there's always Google Translate. Me gusta hablar español.
Definitely an important milestone in my first year here. What I've learned: always leave plenty of extra time in case I get lost. Because I do. Frequently. Remember, all those signs are in Spanish.
Absolutely the most important highlight of 2017! After hundreds of hours of research and writing, I released the second book in the series. My love for the Australian Shepherd breed continues to motivate me to record its history. As a wonderful bonus, I've made many new friends who sent photos of their dogs to be included in this volume.
As 2017 comes to a close, I look forward to an equally memorable 2018. Already in the works are trips to Australia, Italy, Germany, and the UK. I'll be unveiling my brand new, hands-on Aussie workshop, and you'll have to stay tuned to learn about other exciting happenings.
My wish for you in 2018 is to be inspired to live your life to the fullest! Happy Holidays to my friends around the world!