This post has been a long time coming. I have always been meaning to write the next post about our journey, but it’s never come to mind. It’s been an intense few months for one reason or another and I do often find writing difficult, which is why I like to use Instagram to document our journey. I find a photo says so much and with some words to accompany it, for me it’s an easier way to get what we are doing across (so if you want to keep up in more detail with our journey hop across and follow us there :). With our future plans though i still really feel it is important to keep this blog and online space active and I wanted to update people on our journey over the past few months since our first workaway family came….
This year has had it’s fair share of ups and downs. It’s quite funny living where we do. There are many people in the same boat, all come here to escape the ‘rat race’ and to live in tune with nature. Many have very interesting projects, and all have different degrees of self sufficiency goals. Most of our friends and the non-locals in our area have a similar outlook and vision and it means that everyone is in their 1st or 2nd year getting used to this new lifestyle. As I have mentioned in previous posts it has it’s challenges but the main challenge for us this year were getting used to real off grid living and navigating home education in Portugal after we decided to leave the local alternative international school and home educate our son. Mostly I am so happy about our education choices, how it’s ended up and how the kids initiate their own learning. We started a family group at our Quinta every Friday, which initially was very small but now has grown and I absolutely love the little tribe we have and most importantly the friends we have made. We have also welcomed more workaway families, where we made some special connections and had a few families travelling in the area join in on the group which has made the dynamics really interesting, I love meeting families who are travelling and hearing about their adventures. Recently a friend has also started another home ed group on Tuesdays so it’s really thriving now. I feel it’s really going to grow and there are going to be some interesting projects for the kids.
The thing that is difficult is the Portuguese laws on home education where, by law, the kids need to take exams from when they are the age of yr4 children. This is a hard one to get your head around when one of the reasons you do home education is so that your kids don’t feel the normal pressure and control put on their learning. There are talks at the moment with a local camara (council) about one of the village schools integrating with home educated children a few mornings a week which sounds really interesting and definitely a bonus for learning the language. There is also talk of another Portuguese alternative school starting half an hour drive for us so things are really starting to change.
For us though recently we’ve had to revaluate a lot and although our dream and vision of our off grid worldschool hub/ retreat is still strong, we’ve had to come to terms that currently things weren’t working too well for us and we had to find a way to make it work. Money has for us (and for many) been an issue and although we are very lucky that I have my online business which has kept us going, Garf cannot find work and we don’t have enough money currently to get our project off the ground. This and the home ed legalities in Portugal have put massive pressure on our relationships and we both felt personally things weren’t currently working for us, but weren’t willing to give up on our project here. So, things were a bit of a struggle for a few months but, as I always believe if things are meant to be then you will find a path forward. Then the catalyst started with our tenants in our UK house moving out and we knew we had to be back in the UK to earn a regular income to pay the mortgage until we sell up. Following that things just started to fit into place very quickly – Garf’s parents said they needed him back working or them for a while, our friends said they would move in to look after our house and before I know it we’ve booked the ferry back! This all happened within one or two weeks!
This decision, although it was hard, has made me feel so much more positive and open to our dreams for our family retreat/ worldschool hub here. I know now that once we can release some money from our old property then moving forward with what we want to do here can happen – which is mega exciting for us! It also take the pressure off us a little money wise and home ed wise as we can earn more money in the UK while we are here and the UK laws on home ed aren’t as tight. It’s also funny as I always dreamed of finding a way to split our time a little between our Portugal home and The Lake District and it seems like this might be happening. We are hoping to travel a little on the way back too and maybe come back for a couple of months each year for a while – so we are kind of turning a bit nomadic which feels quite amazing!
I personally have also felt a lot of pressure being the one bringing in our income and came to a point where I want to step back a bit from my online business (although keeping all my current clients), outsourcing some work and really focusing on the kids again without the other pressures of work and keeping our project going too. I think this time in the UK will really give me a chance to do all of these things and to spend some quality time giving myself some space so I can give the kids what they need too.
All these changes over the past few months have brought some deep healing and releasing for me. I feel so lucky to have some great healer friends, Clare (from Beautiful Beginnings) and Lisa (from Sharing Your Gifts) as well as others who have helped me to heal and get over some deep wounds that needed healing and made me realise that only living your truth and listening to your heart is the only way to live. Whatever that means. I think astrologically this has been a massive thing to take note of recently (or those into astrology they will know about the many solar eclipses and the Lions gate) and since being back in the UK I have been lucky enough to spend lots more time in nature with the boys and had family around to help too which has given me some space to really think about moving forward and set intentions.
The boys have also been totally fab during the decision to move back for a while, especially as it all happened so fast. We always talk about things in front of them so they always know what is going on and we just explained it is something we needed to do for a while and even though like me they said they’d miss the Quinta, they were super excited to see family and so were just really accepting and excited for a new adventure. It did take a little while for them to settle into life here though. Being on the quinta they are pretty wild and can go out and play on the land as much as they want and we pretty much let them have free reign with it and let them explore and they also are welcome to mostly help themselves to food within our house too. We have now moved into Garf’s grans old flat which is under his parents house and next door to his parents B&B and his sisters (and their cousins home) so it was difficult for them to adjust to new boundaries that they can’t just go see daddy at work all the time/ run off to anyones house/ help themselves to food in anyones house etc! After a few weeks they are finally getting it and I am also trying to get out and go camping as much as I can as we are so happy and feel at home being surrounded by nature and used to living that way now! It’s just a new and exciting adventure and as I see it always lots of new learning opportunities for them too!
Here are some of my favourite photos from the last few months for those who don’t follow us on Instagram.
I also wanted to share my intentions for the rest of the year and moving on with our project. (I would also like to write a different blog about our long term vision for the future and how we see the boys future when they are older as this is something that has just come up as a question on a Facebook group. Next blog maybe!)
Slowing down online work and reconnecting with my boys – This may seem odd as it may seem like I am with my kids all the time. I am mostly, but running an online business when the kids are at home, I have felt is stressful recently and I constantly feel torn. I just really feel like I want to concentrate on them fully again now. This is a big bonus for returning to the UK so Garf can work more and me less for a while and I can be with the boys going on adventures in the Lake District and doing lots of camping 🙂
Spending time with old friends and family and exploring the Lake Distirct – this is something that I thought might feel like ‘going back’ but it’s actually been amazing seeing all the people we love and miss and also exploring the Lake District with the boys for a while – especially now they are older and we can go on some fun adventures. Being back I just feel like I am at home here again.
Living Frugally and Keeping things simple – Being back in the UK it is so temping to buy things and fall into a busy life again but I am determined to keep focused on the end goal that we want to save for returning to Portugal and that I want to reconnect with my boys and focus on them so lots of simple zero plans days – the best adventures come from these kinds of days! I do find charity shops, Ebay and all the new and yummy health foods hard to resist though!
Planning an organising family retreats/ holidays for next year. – This is mega exciting, once we sell our house and know we can make our family retreat happen here then I will be planning and organising some family retreats and educational world school holidays for next spring/ summer here at our Quinta in central Portugal. I have already been drawing up plans for this and the boys have been drawing some of their own too.It’s going to be amazing!
Doing more of what we love and loving ourselves– I truly believe people should follow their calling and do what they love and that in that way they will be successful if they trust in it and don’t have the fear of money and lack. With this is mind I feel it is only right that I do this, not just talk about it. Doing design online isn’t what I truly love anymore, creating flower essences and my family off grid retreat is, so this is what I will be focusing on much more when I reconnect and get the balance back with my boys again. I want them to know I am always there for them without work getting in the way, but also want them to see me and Garf doing what we love and it lighting us up, to inspire them to do the same. I’ve learnt once we can truly love ourselves, we can give ourselves the permission to do what it is we really enjoy and even though it’s hard – what a good thing for our kids to see this, rather than their parents being unhappy and struggling to make money doing something they don’t really enjoy.
Living in the Now – Although I have these intentions I also want to make sure I always bring myself back to living in the now, not worrying about the past or planning the future too much (which is what I do everyday in my head – total dreamer!) and going with the flow if plans have to change. I think the experience of living in Portugal in our off grid lifestyle has taught me to really trust in myself and in things working out, not to worry and not to be too busy or to do things just to please people too much.
What are your intentions for the year – do you have any after the summer solstice or after this new moon solar eclipse? If you don’t today is a great time to make some intentions for your future.
P.S. I want people to know our family group isn’t ending – our lovely friends are moving into our place and the family group will still be going after a break from the summer heat.