2015 year review. A new life

Overall, 2015 was a good year. A year that brought a lot of changes for my family as a whole, and on a personal level for each of us. This review will focus on the personal and family aspects, leaving the professional for last since that didn’t go at all as I had planned at the beginning of 2015.

This is the first time I do a formal year-end review, because previous years weren’t as focused and a lot went very wrong. I find this to be a great exercise in achieving clarity and a jumping off point to accomplish goals that resonate with who I really am.

What went well

By far, the biggest success we had in 2015 was that my husband finally got the job he wanted, entirely in his field of expertise, and doing something he is very good at. This probably doesn’t feel as a high achievement, but in his case, it resulted in a boost in his confidence and self-esteem. This is highly significant to us as a family, because he’s always been on a path of professional accomplishments, but he quit his steady and well paid job to leave our home country and move to Portugal to conduct research for his PhD. The years that followed in Portugal were extremely challenging and hard. We had a few successes, but one enormous failure. But I won’t write about that in this review, those things happened and are already in the past. 2015 was the year we started to recover from this tragedy, and we hope is the beginning of a path to steady growth and achievements.

This new job meant that we had to leave Portugal and relocate our family to Madrid. This came as a huge surprise to us because we never intended to move to Spain and it was never in our plans when we left Venezuela six and a half years ago. Time does, indeed, fly. Moving here also meant this would become a great opportunity for our children to learn Spanish, our mother tongue. Finally we are able to communicate in the same language, not in a mixture of Spanish and Portuguese, as it was before.

After the tragedy, we felt very uncomfortable and unhappy living in Portugal, we knew there were too many sad and painful memories there, and by the end of 2014 it became evident we had to move to a different place. Our best bet was to return to Venezuela, to the comfort of our parents and the rest of our family. By the end of January we almost followed through with this decision. I knew my husband wasn’t sure of it, but I was, and he was going to follow me. But the first week in February something unexpected happened: this huge company in the field of energy and renewables contacted him to set up an interview. And the best thing was, the interview was going to be in Spanish.

I was so ready to return to Venezuela and start over, even if this meant not taking the career opportunities that were starting to unfold for me.

Two months passed, and after an interview via Skype, and a trip to Madrid, to conduct two more interviews, he finally received an offer. We talked about it for like 30 minutes, and as a family, we decided it was best for his career to take the job in Madrid. And the rest is history. He moved in April to start a new chapter in his career, taking an opportunity he might never have in Venezuela. I stayed in Portugal with the kids a few more months, doing my research at the University of Porto, and in June we decided it was best to relocate the entire family to Madrid as well. Living in different countries is not good for a family, and I was exhausted from going to work every day at the lab, and then taking care of the kids day in and day out all by myself.

Another thing that worked well was that I received a grant to do a research at the University of Porto in the field of information visualization. This research was the starting point of my PhD, where I had to make a proposal for the research I was going to conduct. Sadly, I was supposed to start my Phd in September, but as I said before, we ended up moving to Spain.

Since we wanted to start our lives over, we sold our apartment, and became free of Portugal. This was very good. That place reminded us too much of the tragedy and we didn’t want to have things that tied us there.

We have been living here together as a family for five months now. I’m very glad we found a great school for the kids, just a ten minute walk from home, which is a great improvement to our quality of life. We like the place we live in, although the apartment is not as comfortable as the one we had in Porto, but it’s Ok, because rent in Madrid is very expensive, the most expensive in Spain, and we feel very good living here. Finally we can feel normal again, doing the normal things families do. We feel calm.

What went wrong

As I said before, my career didn’t take the turn I had expected and I didn’t start my PhD. To be honest, I was growing more exhausted by the day taking care of the kids and work all alone. I don’t have family in Portugal that could help me so it became evident that I wasn’t going to be able to do it all (my kids were 4 and 2 years old at the time).

I contemplated starting the PhD and take a plane every 2 or 3 weeks to Porto to catch up on the work and the classes, but this was an expensive alternative since the 4 year scholarship I applied to was not granted, and I don’t have a steady job in Madrid that could help me afford the tuition and the trips there.

Conclusion

When conducting an analysis of the year, we think this was a positive year. The first good year after the three worst years I ever had in my life. We feel this is a year of transitions on every level. We know the reality we are living right now won’t be permanent, but we also know that you have to start somewhere.

At the beginning of the year we were still feeling defeated, depressed, with no direction. Just existing and breathing because our eyes opened every morning and the kids needed to be taken care of. Now, one year later, we are filled with hope once again, more aware of our dreams, more intentional in the way we raise our children, with a clear definition of what we want for ourselves as individuals and as a family, with values in mind. We found each other again, and the best part is we are having fun and smiling, and our children are happy again.

2016 is the year I will focus on my career and I already have plans in place for this. It will also be the year I will put my faith and intuition at the forefront of every decision I make.

2016 is the year of taking action.

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