Cindy McCain / Contributor
I am a Southern girl who moved to Morocco and then the Dominican Republic where I write, travel, mom, teach and learn. Every sense is on high alert and I love sharing this journey of adventure, relationship and beauty–gifts that make life rich wherever we live, whatever our age. I believe there is always something new to discover whether in our own backyard or in an alleyway abroad.
Since teaching English in Italy one summer, I dreamed of living an expat life. I’d been to many countries and still wanted to travel more, write more, and learn more from culturally diverse people and places. My gypsy soul promised myself when the kids left the nest, I’d fly away too.
"I’m so thankful for the creation of another life – mine – and watching it continue to grow."
As a single mom who taught English at colleges and the K-12 school my children attended, once they were grown and gone, I was sad. I needed new. I had a great life in Nashville – an established career, friends and family I loved. Though somewhat of a helicopter mom, I also modeled life-in-motion. Post-50 I was still having firsts – a journalism award, a movie role, an English class I started for Mexican moms. But when the nest emptied, it was time to go. In August 2014, I landed in Africa.
Like many who take the road less traveled, I love Paulo Coelho’s words in The Alchemist, “People are capable, at any time in their lives, of doing what they dream of.” We may not get everything we dream of at once, but I’ve learned God fulfills desires he plants within us. I am so thankful for living my dream of having children and raising two amazing human beings. I’m so thankful for the creation of another life – mine – and watching it continue to grow.
Travel and the expat life is not all pools and palm trees. Every day there are challenges – no car, waiting months for a residency card, periodic safety warnings, using French and Spanish keyboards. I sob and physically ache every time I tell my children goodbye.
I miss my family, my friends, my pets and my house. I miss Nashville. But I’m very thankful for this time. This season. Since moving abroad in August of 2014 I’ve been stretched, I've learned and I've contributed.
My love for travel began when I was tiny and my grandmother would fly me to Paris on the arm of her rocking chair. We’d eat lunch in sidewalk cafes – TV trays set up in front of her sofa. Like Fitzgerald’s Jay Gatsby, my Mama Lou had “an extraordinary gift for hope, a romantic readiness such as I have never found in any other person and which it is not likely I shall ever find again.” She loved beauty and adventure. She was a teacher and a storyteller. She taught me to dream big and to have faith that all things are possible.
"Relationships, beauty, joy, and laughter…working to live rather than living to work…can be found wherever we follow our passions."
I value faith, family, friends. Salsa. Literature and life. Teaching and learning. And I believe St. Augustine was probably right, “The world is a book and those who don’t travel read only a page.” Writing to share beautiful people, places, experiences makes me come alive. I hope my story encourages you to travel. Or to follow whatever dreams you have. To, in the words of Thoreau, “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.”
At an agriturismo in Italy, friends taught me that La Dolce Vita extends beyond Lake Como, Cinque Terre or Capri. Relationships, beauty, joy, and laughter; working to live rather than living to work, can be found wherever we follow our passions; wherever we let go of fear and cling to gratitude; whenever we follow our hearts.
June 19, 2017