It's 8:42 AM here in Stockholm, Sweden. People in my old hometown Los Angeles, CA, still have 18 minutes left before coming into the new year. And what a year 2021 was. One year ago, Vevian and I woke up in Marbella, Spain, two weeks after moving out of the United States.
We didn't know exactly how this past year would turn out, except that our home base would be Sweden or Spain. We lived in: Spain for three weeks, Costa Rica for three months, Mexico for a month, and Kentucky for two weeks, and finally ended up in Sweden for eight months. With the most certainty, I can now say that Sweden will be our home base in the future.
Looking back at this past year
Spain was fantastic, where we stayed with a friend of mine in Marbella and we also got to meet some of my cousins in Madrid that I hadn't seen in 10 years.
Costa Rica surpassed our already high expectations. It was everything that everyone had said it would be and above. The perfect climate, the welcoming and warm people, the nature, the exotic animals, all the fruits that I've never tried before, and the list goes on. Pura Vida is not just a "saying" they have over there; it's because it genuinely is Pura Vida to 100%! The word stress doesn't exist in their vocabulary.
Mid-April, we left for Cancún, Mexico, to visit a friend of Vevian. There is so much history in that country. Seeing Chichén Itzá, one of the seven wonders of the world, was breathtaking. All these incredible Cenotes (large sinkholes/caves). The whole Riviera Maya has so much to offer.
A month later, we were back in the US, more specifically just outside Georgetown, Kentucky, where we were visiting two online clients of mine, Anne and Leigh, who had become good friends. We enjoyed the beautiful landscape that Kentucky has to offer with its massive fields of greenery, all the horse farms, the calmness, and the delicious southern food that Anne, Leigh, and their mom spoiled us with. Besides all that, I had some profound conversations with Anne. Conversations that would change my trajectory and what I wanted to focus on in the future.
Anne opened up and talked about her ex-boyfriend Josh, and the more she explained who he was, how he was, went into details of his behaviors, etc. I realized she was describing me. It was as if I was looking into a mirror when I heard everything she had to say. Josh committed suicide due to depression on May 13th, 2019. We happened to be there for the 2nd anniversary of his passing just by coincidence.
It gave me a lot of answers, a lot more understanding, on who I was. I opened up about my suicidal depression in August 2020 and then went quiet for some time. I felt the need to talk more about it again during our stay in Costa Rica, where I made some more posts about it. But it was my conversations with Anne that were the ignite. The realization that this is what I want to dedicate my life to.
When we finally landed in Sweden at the end of May, I started a Facebook group for men called Full Range Of Emotions. Not knowing exactly the destination I was heading towards, I only knew the direction. But I knew I wanted to help and work with men to overcome mental health stigma and all these fears of being vulnerable and talking emotions.
After three months in Sweden, I got presented with two opportunities that would have a much more significant impact than I thought they would have. One was a 5-month course to become a Certified Meditation Teacher. The other was to become a Group Fitness Instructor at Barry's in Stockholm.
The meditation course has taught me so much about self-awareness, mindfulness, gratitude, and my biggest takeaway: Self-Compassion. I haven't had any prolonged negative self-talk since the silent mediation retreat we started the course with at the end of August. Whenever that inner voice, the Ego, want's to talk shit about me, to trash me, to pull me down into those dark holes of negativity; My Higher Self steps in and makes sure it doesn't even pass the 2nd word of that first sentence. My Higher Self is stronger than my Ego for the first time ever. It's the big buff bouncer, standing outside the door to my precious mind, saying: Sorry Ego, you're not welcome here anymore.
The job at Barry's didn't turn out to be just a job. Barry's, my colleagues, the members helped me get back my mojo, that sparkle, that confidence, something that went missing many years ago. I didn't realize it until it returned to me after a couple of weeks working there. And damn, I needed that so much! 12 years without having work colleagues, and suddenly being surrounded by the most fantastic work colleagues you can imagine. So so so grateful.
I haven't been so active on social media during my stay here in Sweden, and that is for a good reason. I've enjoyed "real life" too much, rather than "online life." There has also been a lot of time where I have enjoyed just being present, planning for the future, and what I want to do.
New adventures are on the horizon
In 2 weeks from today, we are going back to Costa Rica. When we started planning our move out of the US at the end of 2020, we knew that Costa Rica would be our destination for the first months of 2021, and if we liked it, we would come back. To start spending our winters in Costa Rica and be in Sweden for the summers.
This time we don't know for how long we will stay in Costa Rica, but it will most likely be anywhere between 6 to 12 months. The reason why it's going to be such an extended stay abroad (without going into too many details) is because of the immigration process for Vevian and her permanent residency here in Sweden. It will take longer than expected due to an overwhelming number of cases that the immigration offices here in Sweden have, and some stupid laws where you can't apply from inside the country, etc.
If both of us could choose, we would've wanted to stay here in Sweden for the winter and not go back, at least for this winter. We are probably the only people in Sweden saying that we would choose the Swedish winter instead of the perfect climate in Costa Rica, haha!
It's a very mixed bag of emotions that I have. I will enjoy going back to Costa Rica, but I'm going to miss my family, friends, Barry's and everyone there, and Sweden in general.
I'm also very excited because I will be able to dedicate full time to my new coaching program for men that I'm about to launch in a couple of days—more on that to come.
2021 were adventurous. 2022 will be even more.
Happy New Year, Everyone!
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