Thursday, September 13, 2018

Changes in Latitudes ~ Changes in Attitudes

‘If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.’
                             -- Dr. Wayne Dyer

Our Maggie Mae watches the world from The Stone House on the Hill
We are now a few weeks short of our first anniversary as full-time expats. By whatever measure: One year. Three hundred sixty five days. Twelve months. Four seasons. We've managed to make our goal of ‘living differently’ before old age, health or common sense prevented us from doing so.

As I’ve told you periodically throughout the year, our change of latitude -- from a suburban Pacific Northwest city to village life among the olive groves in the rural Greek Peloponnese -- has prompted new behaviors in us both. We’ve developed new skills and been surprised by the resurfacing of some of the long lost talents within us.

From Seattle suburbs to Agios Nikolaos - a change in latitude
It isn’t the latitude, but it and the way of life, that has prompted most of the change in attitude.  Some of the changes have happened so gradually that I was rather gobsmacked by just how differently we – especially, me -- see things now.

I'll look back on this
and smile
because it was 
and I decided to 
live it.
                     -- Unknown

Less is More (than Enough)

A small rectangular glass casserole is my serving dish, baking, roasting and marinade pan.  If I bake a cake in it, I plan my subsequent cooking to synch with when it will be empty. In our previous life I had stacks of such dishes, which I didn’t ever really use but I sure liked knowing they were there IF I needed them. Our tiny Greek kitchen just doesn’t have the space for all the gadgets I once routinely had stored away for occasional use in our U.S. life.

PicMonkey Collage
Old-life walk in closet; new life cubby hole.
Speaking of tiny, take our bedroom closet. Well, it isn’t a closet. It’s more an armoire and a definite downsize from the walk-in closet in our old life. No walking into this one. In fact the bedroom is so small there’s no walking past it either if the other of us is standing at the end of the bed. Our far-fewer clothes co-mingle in this tiny space. Seasonal items get folded up and put in storage bags until they are needed. A small clothes rack holds daily wear. Shoes -- instead of lining the length of a closet – sit together on a small rack.

I remember last year wondering how we’d (I’d!) ever be able to  live – full time!! -- with such little storage and so few things. Now, I wonder why we/I had all that stuff?

The local junk man collects unwanted metal and hauls it away

It's those changes in latitudes,
Changes in attitudes nothing remains quite the same.
                 -- Jimmy Buffett

Paciencia manana es otro dia – Patience, tomorrow is another day

I’ve concluded, by watching us deal with situations here, that our American upbringing and lifestyle encourages a lack of patience.  We expect a quick fix/repair/response to all problems and situations.

However, Greece – like Mexico where the phrase above was a daily mantra -- is still attempting to teach us to have patience. If it doesn’t get done/fixed/repaired/solved today, there’s always the promise of tomorrow.

And what’s the rush anyway?  We wait for parts to be delivered to stores, we wait for repairmen to appear, and wait for our mail to arrive once-a-week, on Thursdays. We even wait in our car when the driver of the car in front of us stops in the middle of the road, rolls down his/her window and chats with the person driving the car going the opposite direction.

Life continues on and we are really no worse for not getting things done with immediacy.

Kalamata coffee houses - no rush, no worry
We collected another example this week in Kalamata when we had back-to-back appointments at the dentist and the hair salon. We had them synchronized down to the time it would take to walk between the two places. Then the dentist arrived at work 20 minutes late.  As the first one in her chair, I told her I had only about 40 minutes until my next appointment. Her response, “You want me to call your next appointment and tell them you will be late?”

I was late to the salon, as was The Scout, who followed in the scheduling progression, but we seemed the only two to care about it. The teeth were cleaned and the hair was cut . . .paciencia, manana es el otro dia.

You get time to appreciate things.
Perspective, you start looking at things differently. .
  -- Tupac Shaker

Building a New World

I’ll admit now that I was the one who fretted most about ‘leaving friends behind’. While I wanted to live differently, I also wanted to keep things the same when it came to ‘my world’: I had friends I met for coffee and others for lunch and others with whom I chatted on a regular basis.

We all vowed to stay in touch.

Of course that wasn’t going to happen.

We knew it as we said it.

But several of us do stay in touch by writing long chatty emails (almost as good as face-to-face). Other friends have thrilled us by making the effort to come visit – most by combining a visit to our place with visiting some other destination on this side of the Atlantic. We’ve had quality time with those guests and spend hours in conversation and laughter that we likely wouldn’t have made the time for back in the U.S.

Off for a morning coffee with my friend
In our new world, I  now have a regular coffee date with a friend here and instead of hopping in the car as I used to and racing to the coffee shop, I walk our twisty road down our hill, through olive groves to a beach cafe. My friend follows a similar route. The walk and the coffee take most of our morning – but, why not? There’s always tomorrow for the things we don’t get done today.

A new world is built: friends gathering for Easter Dinner 
As a couple, we have new circle of  friends with whom we socialize regularly and to whom we know we can turn to for help if needed. Coffee, lunch or dinner with them can span hours – and again, if something doesn’t get done because of it, there’s always tomorrow.

Chelan, Washington: 48.027 latitude
The Mani, Peloponnese: 36.84 latitude


It seems somewhat ironic that as our first year comes to a close we are heading back to Washington State to move those remaining belongings from our suburban storage unit near Seattle to our new house in the Chelan/Manson area of  rural eastern Washington State. We’ll be out of the internet world for awhile next week, but I’ll report back on our Northwest moving adventures as soon as we are again 'connected'.

And by mid- October we’ll be back to our hillside home in the Peloponnese to start the next chapter of ‘living differently’.

Safe travels to you and yours. And thanks for the time you spend with us on these adventures of ours and for all the support you’ve given us through your comments and messages. It is good to have you with us, no matter which latitude we find ourselves.  See you soon!

Linking this week with:
Through My Lens
Our World Tuesday
Wordless Wednesday
Communal Global
Travel Photo Thursday – 
Best of Weekend


  1. I'm still loving hearing about your living differently experience. Keep sharing!

    1. Thanks so much! Now that we have a full year under our belts, I might be inspired to focus on that book. . . ;-)

  2. Simple, smaller, slower are all good things for a life to be. I agree.
    Good on ya for making the right choice. Thanks for articulating the differences so well.
    Shalom from Dina not far to your east, at latitude 31 degrees North.

    1. I do hope one of these days Dina that either you make it to my latitude or I make it to yours!!

  3. Yep. Yep. Yep. I thoroughly agree on all points. When looking for our US nest, we purposely bought small. We've done the big house thing - too many times - and at this stage we're keeping it small. We have downsized several times and have it down to exactly what we need - and our family treasures - and no more, nor do we want anything more. That, and we have no room for anything more so it's a win-win. And, I buy new clothes when my old ones fall apart, literally. We share 1 small closet in our new nest and I couldn't be happier. Good luck with your journey back/forth across the pond and the move out of the storage locker. Having just done that a few months ago, I completely "get it". We are heading back to Portugal next month to renew our residency, which will give us 2 years. We have no idea where this path will take us (especially now with grandbaby) but we'll keep it alive as long as we're able to line up the ducks to make it happen. Safe travels!

    1. Oh I have to admit that I think of you every time I write one of these introspective looks at downsizing, life changes, travel through time. Our stories/lives are so different but so many of our experiences are so similar that I do look forward to meeting one day face-to-face and sharing tales and laughs over this new phase of our lives! Safe travels to you as you return to Portugal next month!!

    2. Looking forward to the day our paths cross!

  4. You said it well. Life can get so complex and full of stuff. Glad I got rid decades ago. Yet even my mobile home gets to overflow far to easily. This last year has definitely taught me to take life one day at a time. Sure feels good, doesn't it. Hope you are safely back in WA. I loved Chelan when living in both Tonasket and Wenatchee. Life is good. Keep it that way. Cats have the right idea.

    1. Oh Gaelyn, I have laughed at all the stuff I have managed to collect in a year's time here in a much smaller space than I ever imagined I could live in. One day I must do a good clean out before I need to downsize from here. And you are right - living in the day and for the day and all the joy it holds is the best approach to life these days. And yes, cats have much to teach us!

  5. Hello Jackie,
    Your new life in Greece sounds wonderful.
    Hope you have a great trip back to the US and every good wish for your second year in Greece.

    Best wishes,

    Helen xx

    1. Oh Helen, how good to hear from you again! I checked your blog to see what you'd been up to but I suspect I should have checked one of the other's listed. Thanks so much for the good wishes. And life in Greece is pretty amazing!! Jackie xxx

  6. You have the best of two worlds...what we ALL would love to have...

    1. It has been good seeing the world from two perspectives. . .especially when it comes to what really is important to making day to day life livable. Spending money on gadgets isn't necessarily the key to doing that I've found. Thanks for the visit, BJ! xxx J.

  7. I love reading about your is effortless and I pick up so much value. It makes me wonder about the changes in us, too, as we cruise past 70 and start our second "home" in January Mexico where the phrase originated!

    1. Don't know why it says unknown. I am Carol Esguerra Colborn!

  8. I think I'm in the same headspace as you are when it comes to downsizing in favour of a lifestyle that is rich in other things. But I don't think I could convince Henk to let go of all his computer gadgetry and hobby stuff! Good news is we have some time to work on that. ;)

    1. Start now and go slowly. . .already we are thinking of things we shouldn't have kept and other things we shouldn't have discarded. Good luck. Let us know how it goes!

  9. Congratulations on the one year anniversary! You made it. It's great that you have the best of both worlds. Spain is so similar to Greece with the attitude. It's great not having to rush about. Funny, we've just made 5 years and just wrote a reflection post. Good luck with the storage and have fun in the U.S!!!!

    1. Oh KemKem I will go back and read that post as soon as this hectic week of travel and moving calms a bit. It will be fun to read your reflections. Thanks for the visit!

  10. We seemed to have downsized just about the same time as you but our move was far less dramatic...we moved about 5 miles away from our old home. Even this, has created some lifestyle changes. We were able to keep our hairdressers, doctors and friends. You've made a wonderful adaptation!

    1. Thanks! Now the task is to fit all that we kept into a space none of it was intended for. . .let the downsizing continue! Thanks for the visit, Irene!

  11. Great landscape shot . Please tell something about my capture on my blog .

  12. We once lived on an island in the South Pacific. It was so remote that it didn't even have a port. The island's supplies were unloaded by lighter from a ship which called once every six weeks (seas and weather permitting) and stood out at sea while the unloading took place. Your description of life in Greece reminds me very much of that time.

  13. Gorgeous! Thanks for sharing! Have a great week!

  14. You’re so right about travel changing the way we see things. We’re so used to “the way things are done” that it’s always good to realise that there are lots of other possibilities.

  15. I guess we would be called ex-pats as well, but I never think of myself in that way. We still have ties to Washington State with a condo there, we have chosen to become Canadian citizens. It has advantages over permanent residency. One, we can vote now. Two, we don't have to renew our residency every five years any more. We can come and go as we please. We are coming up on winter travel season to find sunshine once in a while. Maybe one trip to Southern California for about a week, and a daring RV driving trip from Bellingham to Tucson. That will be the longest time away from home in our float cabin. It will be a new experience. Before we've only tent camped. Contrats on your one year anniversary. Are there any restrictions on the amount of time you can spend in Greece? - Margy

  16. Always interesting to read about the realities of ex-pat life! Hope your trip back to the states is a good one, and all goes well with your move. Thanks for sharing this at Best of The Weekend!

  17. You are leading an enchanted life.

  18. Love your photo of the junk man which is a great analogy for carting away your old lifestyle along with the things not needed and changing it up for an entirely new life in a country once foreign but now home. Leaving your things behind is one thing but, as you've found out already, there are many friendships that can survive the distance. And making new friends that share and can understand your experiences in your adopted country is a real treasure!


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