Portugal update: get ready for some cheesiness

I’m writing this from a café in Praia da Luz, a relaxing coastal city in Portugal’s Algarve. This area of the country is where we’ve chosen to make our home—for now, anyway. And I have to say, this place is as close to paradise as anywhere I’ve been in the world.

We’ve lived in three tropical countries: Dominican Republic, Vietnam, and Thailand. Each, we felt, promised paradise. And while we love those countries—they still hold such a special place in our hearts—they were not paradise to us. We found our paradise in Portugal.

Why is this paradise? There are so many reasons. The landscape, weather, and vistas are dramatic and surprising. The people have been welcoming. It feels familiar but exotic, comfortable but exciting. The Algarve is nature’s playground, and we love to play! Mountains, beaches, cliffs, sand dunes, trails—there’s a new place to discover every weekend, and yet we often return to the same places because they’re so incredible.

And probably, part of the paradise is the sense of being settled. For nearly two years, we were completely unsettled: moving from Boise, moving from Thailand, moving from Boise again. There were visas (which we are still dealing with) and moving logistics and vet visits and immunizations and trying to figure out what school we’d send our kids to. Moving is stressful. Moving to three countries in one year is super stressful.

As much as I love exploration, travel, and adventure, I also crave a sense of place. I crave my home; I crave my office; I crave the routine of everyday. I crave space and time with my family, without a flight to catch the next week. Two years into this wild ride we decided to take back in 2018, just now am I starting to feel that sense of calm and place. And let me tell you, in spite of all the hardships, it has been so worth it.

Today, I feel more refreshed and alive than ever. I am inspired creatively. I am in love with my family. I am getting more professional opportunities than ever before, working with people I admire and doing work that (I hope) is making this world a better place.

I deeply believe in the power of vision, and of sticking through the hard stuff, because you know what? The hard stuff leads you here. The difficult choices, the ones people question and wonder about, the ones that are so out of the norm that no one gets it—those are the ones that make life worth living. I now feel certain that we made a choice that was right and good.

Take risks. Live boldly. Persevere through hardship. On the other side of fear and uncertainty are the rewards of living in alignment with your vision and values.

I can’t wait to explore this beautiful country and the rest of Europe, and to see what’s in store for my family and me in this beautiful life we’ve been granted. Cheesy? That’s fine. I can handle some cheesiness when I feel this aligned, authentic, and grateful.

Life, I believe, is meant to be lived full-out, to be explored, to be tested. What matters isn’t where you live—but that you’re living a life you chose, and that you continue to choose every day. We chose this, and we choose this.

How about you? What choices have you made in alignment with your vision? Please share with me in the comments. I love learning about your journey.

10 Comments

  • Amanda Turner Reply

    YES! I love this and I’m so happy that you’ve reached this point in your journey. Can’t wait to see what’s in store for you all.

    • Stacy Ennis Reply

      Thank you, Amanda! It feels amazing to have reached a point of peace in this journey. I was starting to wonder if it would ever come. Here’s to many more adventures—and less chaos!

  • Laura Cesare Reply

    I am thrilled that you have found your paradise! I look forward to hearing more about your adventures. Enjoy!

    • Stacy Ennis Reply

      Thank you, Laura! It feels great to have found a place that suits us so perfectly. I appreciate your continued encouragement along our journey!

  • David Wilens Reply

    How is the freedom/rights situation in Portugal? Is there freedom of speech/due process of law there like there is here? (Don’t respond if it’s unsafe to do so!) 🙂 Correct me if I’m wrong but my impression, though I don’t know much about Portugal, is pretty much all of western Europe now is free and democratic and has all the comforts of home.
    I’m also curious as anything about why you choose to live in so many different places. What do you hope to ultimately get out of it? How have you benefited from the experience? I would imagine it’s a context builder on steroids. How does your family feel about it? Has it been rough on the kids? I guess it’s kind of like a military brat lifestyle where one year you’re in Tokyo, another year Munich, another Oklahoma City…
    Regarding the view of someplace as paradise, I had that thought many years ago when in law school. I went to U of Houston and took my first trip to Austin. I had heard about the hills there but had no idea what they were like, and on a map Austin looks like it’s in the flat middle of the country so the idea there was any interesting geography there seemed strange. So I drove to the west side of town west of the Mo Pac and went up a road that went up and up and up and up and, when I crested the top, I saw one of the most gorgeous views I’ve ever seen: rugged hills about 700-800 feet high everywhere with houses all over them, a river at the bottom and an arched bridge crossing it. Over twenty years later something keeps telling me that’s the place for me. I wasn’t able to get a job there, but I did very well in Florida since then. But I’m still wondering what life would be like in Austin. Can’t seem to shake it.

    • Stacy Ennis Reply

      Thanks for the thoughtful comment, David! I am still learning about the legal system, but I can say that Portugal was essentially under a dictatorship until the 1970s. The country is not like that today, thankfully.

      As for why we travel/move, our grand goal is to raise brave global citizens—I want my kids to feel at home anywhere in the world while also feeling a sense of place (Idaho is our home base). Moving has been hard at times, but honestly the kids are adaptable and jump right into new countries, schools, and cultures with incredible ease and courage. It’s inspiring to me. For me, I benefit from living in alignment with my vision; living internationally and exploring the world has been important to me since we first moved to the Dominican Republic in 2009. I also feel like I have a deeper understanding of the world, and greater empathy. I feel more creative and alive.

      We don’t plan to continue moving so much. We had hoped Thailand would work out for a longer period, but we were open to change if needed. Our hope/plan is to be in Portugal for a few years and then probably move back to Boise and then take extended trips internationally during summers. But we’ll see! Life has other plans sometimes.

      Austin is an amazing place. I felt similarly the first time I arrived in Asia. Something speaks to you, right? Maybe you’ll get a chance to live there someday and find out if it’s the place for you.

  • Cathy Valenti Reply

    So glad you are settled in a place that is home to you! I love living vicariously through your pictures and blog posts, and look forward to your future adventures, wherever they may take you.

    • Stacy Ennis Reply

      Thank you, Cathy! I know you have an adventurous soul as well. 🙂 I appreciate you following along on our journey—it makes my Boise community feel close, even though I’m so far away.

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