A Travellerspoint blog

On finding your place, and your peace.

Path creating and shoe loving my way to self acceptance.

overcast 8 °C

There is a place in this city that has become a monument of battles won and fears overcome. Located next to the principal theater, it is a lively square that many pass through each day on their way to experience the stunning views that Plaza Del Pilar boasts. The first time I stumbled on the plaza I was searching for feelings of comfort and peace. The square was quiet as I said my goodbyes to a familiar face, one that represented a country I knew and people I loved.

In the days that followed I searched for the square, hoping that feelings of serenity and security would come along with it. One afternoon, during the hour where golden sunlight finds its way over apartment buildings and into open streets, I found the place that brought me comfort. This time the plaza had taken on a new form. Warm rays illuminated the faces of people dancing the afternoon away. Music poured through the space, creating an atmosphere that inspired quick feet and fluid movement. Minutes passed, and I realized that the feelings that I felt were not of peace, but of belonging. I felt, for the first time, connected to the place in which I lived. It was a connection that I had created in a city that was not my own, and in a country who's customs and people were unfamiliar territory.

For the next two months, whenever my path crossed that of the plaza, I felt a quiet strength that reminded me of the power that comes from taking on the unknown. It became easier to make decisions that forced me out of the comfort zone that I had so recently expanded. I had done it before and I could do it again. Words that used to hurt slid off my body like water on marble. I found that I didn't have the time or the necessity to bring myself down. I began to work on putting people in my life who supported dreaming the afternoon away and who were ready to work into the night to make those dreams living realities.

I traded in fear for self love and acceptance. I started to recognize people on the street, people I knew, people I loved. Language barriers started to fall and my confidence level started to rise. I no longer felt the need to apologize for my small vocabulary before starting a conversation. I made it work. And when making it work was difficult I just laughed, because I had gone through worse. Missed trains and buses became adventures. As long as a Coke Zero was involved nothing, and I really mean nothing could phase me. I learned how to be my own best friend in bus stations at two in the morning, but I also learned how to be a better friend to those around me at four in the morning en route to Barcelona. I became a sponge, soaking in all of the lessons the people around me had to offer. Lessons in love, life, faith, and friendship. I listened to and learned from it all.

Over the holidays I was able to walk alongside that square with one half of the duo that help to shape my path, both past and future. I felt strong. It was a feeling that reminded me of the power that we all possess. I was reminded of my individual worth, constant and unchanging. I was reminded of the worth of those around me, and how important it is to recognize and celebrate that worth. When we celebrate and respect who we are finding our place, and our peace becomes easy. Building a home and a community becomes possible. And loving the shoes you're in and the path you're following becomes a way of life.

Here's to path creating and shoe loving.

Plaza Sinués Urbiola
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Plaza Del Pilar By Day
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Cooling Off In Front Of Puente De Piedra
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Zaragoza By Night
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Posted by mirandabarrie 10:34 Archived in Spain Tagged spain zaragoza plaza_del_pilar puente_de_piedra Comments (0)

To The Little Shadows

Une ville pour vous, une ville pour moi.

sunny 26 °C

A fierce heart and a stunning mind with a laugh that sounds like all of the good things this world has to offer, Beth Barrie is the kind of woman you want on your team.

She leads with a passion that inspires others around her to do the same. Her ability to take the great, the bad, and the beautiful and turn them into a final product that creates hope in this brave new world is one that I will always admire.

Beth Barrie has taken on the great, the bad, and the beautiful in me. She has made it her personal mission to assist me with my journey, taking time out of her own.

Main dans la main, we explored the streets of Paris, Narbonne, Carcassonne, Barcelona and Zaragoza. Each evening we would soak up the quiet calm of l'heure bleue and each night we would come to find that home is wherever you can share a dessert of sweet macarons with people that make your heart feel like the buttercream filling that dutifully holds the crisp shell together.

Our eyes reflected the sun as it melted into the fountains at the Musée du Louvre. Our heels clicked away on the cobblestone streets that surround Rue de l'Odéon. Savory meats and cheeses filled our baskets as we made our way through Santa Caterina. With each quiet alleyway and every crowded corner we fell in love with our Paris, our Narbonne, and our Barcelona. These cities belong to the hearts of many courageous souls, but the places that made us feel like the world danced at our fingertips, those were the places that belonged only to us.

My mother helped me discover a world that is filled with tomorrows. With her, there are no grey days. As I make my way through Zaragoza and beyond, I am comforted by the knowledge that each sunrise brings with it an opportunity to start anew.

Hasta que nos volvamos a encontrar.

I saw a young mother
With eyes full of laughter
And two little shadows
Came following after.

Wherever she moved,
They were always right there
Holding onto her skirts,
Hanging onto her chair.
Before her, behind her -
An adhesive pair.

'Don't you ever get weary
As, day after day,
your two little tagalongs
Get in your way? '

She smiled as she shook
Her pretty young head,
And I'll always remember
The words that she said.

'It's good to have shadows
That run when you run,
That laugh when you're happy
And hum when you hum -
For you only have shadows

When your life's filled with sun.'

~Anonymous

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A joyful reunion in the shadows of the Musée du Louvre
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Exprimez-vous
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Cool mornings by the Seine
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A quiet space
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The sweetest escape
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Les tagueurs
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All kinds of beautiful
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Su valor está muy por encima rubíes
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Poco a poco, Spain is stealing my heart

Posted by mirandabarrie 06:02 Archived in Spain Tagged tower barcelona park france the eiffel spain guell seine Comments (0)

The Most Beautiful Walk In The World

Receiving a Diploma From The Universe

overcast 20 °C

On a particularly quiet morning in Valdespartera I decided to go for a walk. Putting my headphones in I left the silent urban landscape behind and entered a world filled with game changers and innovators courtesy of NPR's TED Radio Hour. Powerful words from influencers across the globe filtered in and out, passing along knowledge that was both uplifting and inspiring.
One man in particular caught my attention, causing me to hit the 15 second rewind button several times. That man's name is Bunker Roy, and his story is one filled with women entrepreneurs. The women that he spoke of were not CEO's of Fortune 500 Companies. They didn't drive nice cars. Diploma's from top tier schools did not hang proudly on their walls.
These women were Grandmothers.

"For the first month it is disorienting. They miss their family they miss their land and my biggest bills are the mobile bills because they say, "What the hell am I doing here?" But gradually they adjust. That's why when people say, "Why didn't you send people to Africa instead of bringing the women from Africa to India?" I said, "She has to come out of her environment. She has to come out in a situation where she is challenged. So we actually create an environment where people can find something within themselves which they never thought they had and then go back to the community they come from and show what they've learned. That is how leaders are born.""

-Bunker Roy, Founder of The Barefoot College

Solar engineers. The women attending Roy's Barefoot College were learning to become solar engineers. Women who, prior to their college experience, were expected to live in the shadows of men.
The Barefoot College helped me to stand up and realize that we are capable of creating immense change.
This is my opportunity to find something within myself. To love deeper, to soak in every moment. Each day I spend here is a gift. A chance to learn a new way of life.
I am engineering my future.

As I turned the corner onto Calle El Paciente Ingles I looked around at the rows of apartments filled with people who were engineering their lives. An overwhelming sense of togetherness washed over me and I felt, for the first time, connected to this place and the beautiful people that surrounded me.

Poco a poco, todo va a estar bien.
Valdespartera.jpg
Cool Evenings In Valdespartera

Posted by mirandabarrie 05:09 Archived in Spain Tagged spain gap_year barefoot_college bunker_roy Comments (0)

A Step In The Right Direction

A lesson in looking left and turning right.

sunny 26 °C

Living in another country hurts. Each morning when I wake up, the world that I have come to know and love is going to sleep. From eight in the morning until four in the afternoon I feel alone and lost. My heart aches for the voices of people who helped me to see the beauty in each day.

As the sunlight pours into my room, the comfort and peace I felt the night before begins to slip through the cracked windows. Every morning I get out of bed with the hope that feelings of emptiness will be replaced with love. As someone who finds joy in soaking up every moment, this transition has been difficult for me.

But hey, that's okay.

The opportunity to learn how to create my own happiness is a gift. From eight in the morning until four in the afternoon, tears are okay. Feeling alone is okay. Feeling lost is okay.
It is in those times that I will be able to find a person who sees the beauty in her world, finds strength in her heart, and awakens the passion in every last bit of her being.

Pulling inspiration from a digital care package gifted to me by a friend, I wiped the tears off my face and got to work making my world a better place to be. The following is an excerpt from a response I wrote to the gift given to me by my friend Nick.

Today I went rock climbing in Jalón. During my second climb there was a point where I felt extremely weak and tired. I kept moving left trying to reach parts of the rock that I could use to lift myself up. I held on for a good minute or two before taking a step towards the right. That step changed my perspective of the wall, and I was able to find a path to the top.
I think life, and this internship, are similar to climbing. When you're up there on that wall, looking down at the world you know and trust, it can be terrifying to believe that stretching your arms a little further could bring you to a place full of new possibilities.
Like the rock face, there are going to be times here where I can't see my next move. Feeling trapped and alone it's natural to want to look down at the ground and rappel into a place that feels safe.
But safe doesn't get you to the top, and the top feels good.
I'm going to fall a few times, I'm going to struggle to see the next step, but as long as I have enough courage to reach a little further I know that I will find a way to make beautiful things happen here.

In order to make beautiful things happen, I needed a way to structure my mornings so that constant growth and progress would become second nature, leaving no room for worry or doubt.

My day now begins at seven in the morning. I start each day with a run and a destination in mind. The sunrises in Zaragoza are something else, so by the time I reach my destination pink cloud trails are beginning to float through the sky.

When I return I eat a real breakfast (this is a kind of a big deal, a healthy breakfast is usually not my thing) and begin working. While in Zaragoza I have several responsibilities. These include taking care of a four month old, a six year old, deep cleaning the house every week, creating and teaching two 1 1/2 hour English lessons every week, designing a website, designing a logo, and creating social media campaigns for two programs.
When taking care of a four month old, there are times when you are busy but have the opportunity to balance two activities at once. While taking walks (these can sometimes last for an hour) your hands are busy but your mind wanders.

During these walks I have started to fill my iPhone with podcasts. From This American Life to Freakonomics, my hours are spent filling my head with information that inspires and uplifts. If I am not working during siesta, (a common practice in Spain) I read a book or work on improving my Spanish.

I've eliminated chips and Skittles and replaced all snack items with a glass of water.
I'm redesigning the way I operate.
It feels good.

The weekends belong to me and my satchel. While in Europe, I want to take in all of the stained glass, open market goodness I possibly can.
By train or by bus, I plan to see and experience as much as possible.
Rome, Madrid, and Munich are currently at the top of my list, but I am open to wherever my feet and the train tracks take me.

Feeling okay and learning to be happy with myself are tasks that will take time and energy.
Mistakes will be made.
Lessons will be learned.
And I will find my path.

I hope you find yours.
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Climbing on in Jérica
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The top feels good
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Pressing Forward

Posted by mirandabarrie 03:16 Archived in Spain Tagged nature spain climbing Comments (0)

Lifting My Chin Towards The Skies

A gift full of words that calm the soul, heal the heart, and empower the mind.

sunny 28 °C

The following message is an excerpt from a digital care package I received from my friend Nick. I met Nick in a classroom with two windows that faced a greenhouse.

For me, Nick was a greenhouse and I was the weird tree growing on a table with three legs. Nick was patient and kind, always willing to share his knowledge and expertise whenever I needed it, wherever I needed it. Friends like Nick make the world go round, and when the world turns round good people make good things happen.

Thanks Nick, for keeping my world turning. I owe you a lifetime of music that fills your soul, art that makes your heart beat faster, and words that make you feel complete.

Congratulations!
You've reached your first overseas mental and emotional breakdown. Welcome and honestly, good for you. It's like they say in Fight Club, you're one step closer to hitting bottom.
But seriously, whether or not you've found it within yourself to put on a brave face and figure things out, know this: you are not worthless, you are not an outsider, and you are definitely not wasting anyone's time.
I think something you have to do is be honest with yourself and the people around you about your situation right now. If you do that, I think you'll find out your state of mind is really the only thing getting in your way. You're in a foreign country, which in itself is not a foreign thing to you. But you're in a culture that you don't have any real prior knowledge about.
Bad? No.
You couldn't have been expected to do your homework in any confident capacity because, hey, you didn't really know what you were in for.
You don't speak the language? Great.
On-the-ground assimilation and education is the number one way bilingual individuals learnt their second language.
You don't know if you want to speak Spanish fluently? Also great.
It's like any language in the world. There are statements, there are questions, and there are hand gestures. And more importantly, there are people willing to teach you. Little things, little phrases, little signs, things to get you by. And you have the internet as well.
I'll tell you a thing: I'm learning sign language right now (American Sign Language, to be more precise) and I've been teaching myself through video tutorials on YouTube. The why and when do not matter but the how. Every Wednesday at a nearby Barnes & Noble, "deaf chat" is held. Bunch of deaf people come and hang out pretty much. You have students and teachers as well as regular members of that community and they are all there to learn from and about each other. I just went this past Wednesday after having watched dozens of videos. And you know what?
I fell flat on my ass the first time I ever signed with someone.
My spelling wasn't clear enough, my words were misunderstood and frankly I felt like I hadn't learned anything. But that isn't the point. I stayed for two hours and learned my way around a conversation and the videos I had watched helped me to understand what people were saying even I didn't know how to say it properly myself.
It's not the accent or the technique or even the speed at which you say things, it's the willingness to learn that takes care of all of that. I know that if there is anyone in my life that wants to learn, to soak up every moment life gives her, it's you.
Spanish culture isn't comparable to deaf culture. There's a lot of pride involved, some racism, a lot of egos floating around; it's an old country and that's to be expected. The only real way you'll be able to flow with it is to be a sponge and notice everything.
Now, I've heard that you're concerned about what exactly you're being asked to do there and to that I can tell you, anyone that calls themselves an artist has no idea what the fuck they're doing. I don't care if they're a painter, a magazine photographer, a graphic designer, a director, a writer. The distinction does not matter because creativity as a source of income is the riskiest thing out there and you know what? The people who say they have it figured out are either lying or being coy. Because it takes a long time to learn your craft, to learn your abilities and strengths.
Forget a career in art though because I'm not sure that's where your heart lies.
Here are some tips when receiving an assignment:
1) Pull inspiration from everywhere.
From books, nature, people, advertisements. Everyone plagiarizes and no one has original ideas. So start taking pieces and notes.
2) Creativity is fun and don't you forget it.
Being paid in any way to create something from your imagination is the single greatest thing there is. Or one of them. Relish in the fact that, success or failure, you're in fucking Europe on an internship that no one else has. Screw the idea that you're fucking up, throw away the notion that you don't belong there. You are already there. Make the most of it. Try, try, and try.
3) Breathe.
No assignment of any kind is fostered properly through haste. Yes, haste can be a huge benefactor when under deadline but it is not what guides the product, only the source of inspiration. Don't ever run yourself too hard or too low. You're your greatest tool.

I know it's scary out there, especially by yourself. You have no relations, no peers. Realize that you do not have everything and cannot be expected to give everything.

Just be honest with yourself. Don't berate any of the ambitions you have out there. Be honest about what you want from this and who you are in this moment. The future is on its way, who gives a shit. Think about now.
Here are a few things to help get some inspiration and ideas flowing.

First is an awesome channel called the Art Assignment run by author John Green's wife. It facilitates art projects from disparate fields and concentrations. This one in particular talks about Psychological Landscapes, something I think you can relate to right now.

This one is pretty close to my heart. It's Neil Gaiman's speech about what it means to create art and to be an artist. Of any kind and at any rate, whether professional or amateur.

Some fun little blurbs here and here.

This is an abstract one, not really meant for inspiration but for perspective. You are living outside of a country that craves square footage and charges for it by the inch. Just something to think about.

This is another abstract one, it's about first times. You're in a first for lots of things right now. There is a beginning, middle and end to it all. And hey, maybe you'll come out the other not only a survivor, but a true adventurer.

And this....well, this is for any other time.

Get up, walk around, feel everything. You're a fucking bursting ray of sunshine that is glowing outside of the universe's asshole right now. You can do it.
Don't let anyone boss you around. Be humble but stand up for yourself. Be honest with yourself and the people around you. If someone asks too much, that's it. There is no conceding it. You know your limits. Push them but do not break them.
And know that all of us, every single one of us, is here if you need to talk or cry or shout or vent or laugh. We can help as much as we can but this is your adventure. And I think I can say with some measure of certainty that we are all incredibly proud of you.
Chin up, love.

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Nick and I danced to the sounds of Arcade Fire and Local Natives in 2011. Marcus Mumford was dancing in the box seats over our heads. It was magic.

Posted by mirandabarrie 05:36 Archived in Spain Tagged spain Comments (0)

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