2010 In Review – A Year of Change, Learning, and Sun

by Ingela

Henri and I in SpainThis post is about what I have experienced and learned in 2010. It’s not at all about skin care, but it is all about what I’ve been up to the last year.

We’ll start in January when my boyfriend and I moved to Spain, dog and all.

We got sick of our cold climate and decided to get a move on. It was very exciting!

Living in Spain

I learned it’s not that strange or hard to live in a foreign country, but there are lots of small differences.

Like the way you sort your garbage, the way you greet each other, how fast the tap water gets hot, when the stores are open, and whether it’s okay to double dip your food utensils at social gatherings or not. 😉

When you meet people at a social gathering in Spain you’ll most likely kiss cheeks, even if you’ve never met the people before. In Scandinavia when we meet someone for the first time we shake hands and when we meet friends we just say hi, and sometimes hug.

February I noticed my dry hands and feat getting smoother and the cracks in the corners of my thumbs disappeared. All because of the lovely warm and humid climate by the Mediterranean Sea. 🙂

Trying New Things and Learning Spanish

Cherry Tomatoes GrowingI started feeding my dog Cleo raw food after having read about it online for some time. It was kind of nervous to start, but nowadays I’m kind of relaxed about it, but still learning how to feed Cleo better.

If you have a dog or a cat I definitely recommend you look up feeding raw, my dog is fitter than ever, although it takes a lot more effort than feeding kibble.

At the end of February I started this blog with much help from my tech-y boyfriend. We wrote and built on it for a while, but then focused on other things during the summer. It is still very much a learning process for me, this blogging and site building thing!

In April I went on a 30-day all vegan diet after eating a lot of vegan foods for a couple of years. It was quite easy for me, and I really liked the food. I made lots of raw vegan sweets and treats with exciting recipes. Delicious things like strawberry pie, carrot cake, and raw cacao brownies were devoured by Henri and me.

I also started attending yoga class for the first time and loved it. It really is a good way to de-stress, get more balance, and it’s very good for your health. In this yoga group I got to know some lovely Spanish women, and listened keenly to them talk in Spanish to learn the language.

In the spring I started growing cherry tomatoes on my balcony, with seeds sent to me by Spiritual Gardening.

I really liked learning more about how to grow plants and to get my hands in the dirt, even if only on my balcony.

In the end of May Henri and I started learning Spanish for real by watching lots and lots of TV series and movies in Spanish.

This sudden interest in learning Spanish was provoked by an incidence involving Henri, an ear plug, and a Spanish hospital.

We learned a lot just by watching and enjoying the movies, without subtitles, and I think it’s a great way to increase your comprehension of any language. I’m actually quite amazed how much my vocabulary grew in this time.

Lost Puppy and Mountain Village Trip

In the middle of the July-heat I found a lost puppy when I was out jogging on morning. It hid in the bushes near a road, and ran away when I tried coming near.  I recognized it from a poster in a park and jogged away over there, called the owners and managed to communicate with them despite my very beginners’ Spanish.

It was great seeing the puppy’s reaction when the owners found him, he was crazy happy! This experience made me think about how every one here can make a difference by helping each other out every now and then.

I felt like I made a little difference for this family, because if no one had stopped and looked up what was rustling in the bushes this puppy might never have gotten back to them.

IMy First Cherry Tomaton July I harvested my first cherry tomatoes. Yummy!

In August I was invited to go help out a man I met in the health food store with his meditation retreat in progress.

So Henri and I spent a few days in a beautiful mountain village, Henri building a wall, and I organizing inside. After working we visited a hot spring, it was cool to try something new like that!

Hot water emerging from the ground! This trip helped me see how taking a chance and trusting strangers can pay off at times.

Soon after we got home from the mountain village we followed our extrovert summer energy and started attending language exchange meetings with a local CouchSurfing group. We got to know new people and got to practice our Spanish.

It was an awesome way to befriend some interesting local people. We went on excursions to close by cities and dinner dates with our new friends, and had a really good time.

Dog Scare and Moving Back to Sweden

In November my dog Cleo had surgery and almost died. 🙁 It turned out she was allergic to the anesthesia, her heart stopped and they had to interrupt the surgery. Fortunately they could bring her back, and the surgery was completed a few days later with other sedation.

My Poor Miniature Schnauzer Dog - Cleo!It was horrifying but I think it helped me grow at the same time. Surely most people have fears of loss and death, and I’m no exception.

I feel like I accepted that Cleo might leave me if it was her time, and instead of feeling fear I felt more relaxed about it, although it felt kind of sad too.

Almost losing her has made me appreciate her presence even more. I thought about what it would be like not to have her to take walks with, to cuddle, to tease, to play tricks, and all the small things I take for granted.

The worst part would probably be not to have her greet me when I come home.

In the beginning of the year I wouldn’t have thought we’d be moving back to Sweden that same year, but in July Henri got the idea that we’d better move back. So we bought tickets for the end of November.

We said “Hasta luego” to all our newfound friends in Spain, and flew back north.

In December we’ve been settling in back home and slowly gotten used to our old climate again. Dry skin, we meet again. Cold and dark. Dark and cold. That’s how it is this time of the year. But the snow does light up some, and so does all the Christmas lights.

I do appreciate my home town much more after being away a long time, I’m grateful for things like being able to let my dog run free on the abandoned pedestrian footpath in the evening, the difference in air quality, and the closeness to nature, friends, and family.

And there’s always ways to get rid of dry skin 🙂

A Picture from Our BalconySince we got home we’ve made a few changes. We’ve started lifting weights and eating more inspired by Paleo, which means we focus on eating mainly vegetables, eggs, fish, meat, and fruits.

As much as we can find is organic, free-range, wild, and local. I love those wild local blueberries, lingonberries, and cloudberries!

This was kind of a big change in diet for me, as I started the year mostly vegan and now I eat meat. I guess I’m just accepting the circle of life. That’s how I feel right now anyway.

What Happens in 2011?

I haven’t thought much about next year yet. I will continue writing, and will be sharing more on the blog. We will probably be living up here, for the most part.

Henri is talking about different travel destinations and dreaming about where to go next, but that’s not until next fall or winter (as far as I know :)).

What else? Well I look forward to learning new stuff; maybe some crafts like pottery, sewing, or something artsy, and just enjoying life.

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