Jim and his Love and Excitement for Making Large Changes in his life

Ep 5 Jim White

Josh: Jim, thank you so much for joining me today on Let's Move to Portugal. We've become friends over the past several months since , you and Mandy, your wife, have moved here. We've. Had a real pleasure connecting with you and understanding more about your journey to get here.

But we want to have the listener understand more about your journey getting here. So where are you from originally and why did you decide that Portugal was the spot for you?

Jimmie: I'm originally from California via Baltimore, Washington, dc So we left from Baltimore, Washington where I'd been the last few years. And we decided to come here about two years ago, just as Covid was beginning. So many people our work began to change. I teach, so I do a lot of in classroom and workshops and things, and Mandy teaches yoga. So it meant being with people and all of a sudden we couldn't be with people anymore. And we realize that at our age and stage in life that there was no reason for us to necessarily stay where we were, and we began to think about where could we be, and where do we want to be? And we began to look around Europe and actually, we found your podcast. And we met you two years ago. Not online like this, but we met you via your video on getting to CVS for your passport pictures and getting to the bank as you were getting ready and you're getting your D7 Visa.

So we've been following you for a couple of years

Josh: Wow, that was early days in our Portugal content creation for sure.

Jimmie: Yeah, it was right at the very beginning and we were becoming aware of Portugal and found you because of that. And there were some reasons that we were interested and it, interestingly, it's not about the political situation as much as it's about quality of life.

And lifestyle issues quality of healthcare and the reputation of Portugal and the Portuguese as being open and warm and friendly. As we began thinking about it, it loomed more on our horizons. We were thinking about other countries, but Portugal kept coming up. And then we discovered that we had friends from the US who had moved to Portugal themselves and lived in Peniche.

And contacted them and they started talking about how wonderful a place it was. And so we decided we're going to do this. And we sold everything. We sold the house. And we gave away most of our possessions, and we came over with three cats in about 18 suitcases, sight unseen

Josh: incredible. So for those that don't know, Peniche is north of Lisbon. Maybe what, 45 minutes an hour drive?

Jimmie: Yes, an hour drive west and it's on the silver coast they call it.

And then folks may have heard of Nazaré with the big surf. That's what, 25 or 30 miles north or so? It's all on that big Atlantic coast there.

Josh: Nice. So you didn't end up in Peniche though. Where are you now?

Jimmie: We are in Porto the reason we thought about Porto is that when we were just getting the idea of coming here. Mandy is an artist and she's been very interested in urban sketching and Porto comes up as one of the more beautiful places. Now there are many beautiful places here, but was really enticing.

Because it's a large city. there's a lot of variety and it really is very picturesque. And so we started focusing on Porto and we went via Peniche because our, the folks that we stayed with, they sponsored us. So folks know about the D7 visas in terms of rentals and things like that.

We had friends who sponsored us for a couple of months so that we could get here and get our apartments and things lined up.

Josh: And are these friends locals, or are they foreign?

Jimmie: They're foreigners. Eric is the son of an old colleague of mine and we used to work together back in the United States when she worked for the government. And I consulted with them and I met him through his mother, Jill. And when I spoke to Jill way back when we were contemplating Portugal and we said, we're thinking about this, et cetera, she said, oh, Eric's in Portugal.

and that was it.

So we had this connection. We got on the Zoom with him. I'd met him before. He was very excited about it. He comes from Hawaii as a surfer. He's a surf videographer, and moved his surf videography business to the Nazaré area of the big surf here.

Josh: what were some of the other countries that you had looked at that you were interested in before you finally settled on Portugal?

Jimmie: It's interesting. We didn't look seriously at a lot of other countries. We did consider Costa Rica and we had considered Mexico. We considered Costa Rica because we had friends who migrated there. 10 years ago and set up a business down there. And Costa Rica is very appealing. And yet the idea of being in Europe in a culture that is, that is open and warm and being in a place that you have access to other parts of very different cultures and very different languages, was very exciting.

So we didn't reject other countries, we just chose Portugal.


Okay, that's beautiful.

Jimmie: and we have no regrets. No regrets at all.

Josh: Fantastic. So tell me about this this desire to have a better quality of life. What are some of the aspects of better quality of life for you, and how have you found that in Portugal?

Jimmie: What I found is that it , it doesn't feel as hurried and in chronic over-boogie all the time. The pace is different, the quality of connection with people seems to be warm. The connection that you can make with people, even without the language is is really interesting.

It's very heartwarming . I'll give you an example of something that is touching that's symbolizes, life here a bit. We're on the metro and we're at the top of the escalator and there's an old woman with a cane trying to navigate the escalator down and a young woman coming up turned around and took her arm and went down the escalator with her and at the end of it, the older woman took the younger woman's hand and kissed it and they went on their way.

And just little things like that, little touches, little symbols of warmth, symbols of connection, symbols of caring that, that are pervasive. And I know that happens of course in the United States , it's there. It's just appears to be more obvious or more apparent some how.

Josh: I couldn't agree with you more, honestly. I know that our time here I've noticed those little moments that you see, and for me, it, it changes you as a person. It's definitely changed me. Like it, it, you slow down, like you said, the pace of life is slower, but you slow down to recognize, Hey, there's other people out here around me, like in my orbit.

And to be more aware of what their needs are and to be able to meet their needs. It's really beautiful.

Jimmie: It is. In fact, it was funny. Mandy and I were coming up from the fado place a few minutes ago and we'd been there a couple hours and sitting there and they're singing the fado and we're being quiet and. And listening, these moments come over you where you really recognize. These are sweet moments.

People are connecting with each other. They're being affectionate. They're the same crowd and they're the same group there singing every Wednesday and Saturday. So they know each other, but there's a palatable warmth. It's as if in a way, in those settings you're being held. I know that sounds corny and kind of airy fairy and all, but it does feel like you're being held by the group energy, as weird as that may sound, but it's palatable.

You can feel it.

Josh: Awesome. Where do you live in the city? Let's dive into, what daily life is like for you and how you're getting on in terms of your transition here.

Jimmie: Yeah, we live in the Marish area, which is north of the center city. and not a part of the suburb. It's still city. It's on the metro line. It's a park with a metro line I think within two blocks of me each way, there must be 20 cafes or bars, restaurants.

It's quite active. And not noisy. There's a lot of bustling going on, but it's not like heavy traffic, et cetera, and so we live in that particular area. We chose it because we wanted to not have a car. . And we chose it because of the proximity to the metro system.

We can get, on Metro as you can get all over town in fact 20 miles north to beach cities if you want. Just by getting on a metro and riding and it's reasonable, it's not expensive and it's modern and. .It works. It really does work. So Mandy is an artist, who does a lot of sketching, both traditional sketching with watercolor as well as digital art with iPads, et cetera. And so she's an iPad artist and she's also a yoga instructor. She does zoom yoga, so when the business dried up and you couldn't go to clubs anymore for your yoga classes, she went online. and brought many of her clients online. And so moving to Portugal did not change the interactions. During Covid, it's, it doesn't really matter where you are as you well know, to apply those kinds of skills. So She's been doing that. So she goes out every day and sketches, goes to a cafe, meets some people. She takes a few art classes in the area, and then she teaches yoga in some of the evenings.

I'm working with, colleagues. We've written a book on designing workshops and things. it's doing quite well on Amazon and we're very pleased about that. So we're working on putting up a course that is a course that's built on the book, and the book is built on the experience of us working together in different training venues back in the United States.

I'm looking at actually getting on some podcasts to market the book. I really love the stuff that's in the book. I love the fact that it's about how do you design workshops that are transformational? How do you make classes that make a difference in people's lives?

What are the keys to that? What's the X-ray vision around how you structure that, and then how do you teach it so that people actually go in and come out differently, in a way that they want to?

And I do a Zoom cast once a week and have been doing it for the past three years, for alumni of some of our workshops to learn how to take experiential training online.

And how do you make what we call mind body learning and mind body teaching how do you take that online so it's effective? As if you were in the classroom, but you're not. You're on a screen. So what do you do? How do you use breakout rooms? So I'm playing with those things.

Josh: As you're talking about this, I'm thinking like, what could be the application for our listener? And I'm wondering, are there ways that they can plug into something like this to create an online course that not only benefits their audience members, but also benefits them by getting them paid so they can have some income to move to Portugal?

Jimmie: Very good. Yes. Yes.

That's what is exciting me now, taking the book and moving it forward. And I do like to teach. And , that's been a part of what I've been looking at here. I have not networked in Porto itself with regard to that kind of work.

I know. that, for standup training here in Portugal, you really do need to speak Portuguese unless you find, fortune 500 companies or expat companies. So I'm looking at how to expand what I might do online and I think one of the things that I really love about it is that you can do things on these screens that you wouldn't think .

you can have conversations that are deep if that's what you're looking for, that you would only think would be possible, in a small group, in a hotel somewhere, in a corporate training setting. But there are things that you can do online, even motion stuff, even yoga. And you can get people engaged in moving and having different experiences with themselves as also online in small group breakout rooms and things.

So there's an art craft and science to that, and that's what we're playing with.

Josh: Yeah. One of the things I'm curious about your perspective on as remote workers so removing the digital creative that me and my wife are, but just remote workers in general. As remote workers, we find that the pace of life can have us become a little less productive.

Jimmie: Yes.

Josh: We'll go to a cafe in the middle of the day because we can, we have slowed down. So do you find any conflict with that where you have a difficult time , getting things done that you need done for work as a remote worker?

Jimmie: Yes

Josh: Okay, so how do you combat that?

Jimmie: yes, indeed,

Josh: Give me your pearls of wisdom, sir.

Jimmie: Yeah. , just a bit of background. I used teach cross-cultural training things for the Peace Corps years ago, helping Americans go overseas without freaking out. So what do you do? And we had all kinds of theories and ways of approaching And at this age and stage, I've been teaching a long time, and this is different not because Portugal is different, but because what you begin to realize is the issue is not Portugal.

The issue is how you talk to yourself about what you're able to do and not able to do in this setting, and then when you think about, be happy with getting one thing done a day, maybe. that's the phrase what's happens here. What do you do when you're unhappy and you're standing in line and you're grousing and you hear yourself starting to complain about the Portuguese and you realize it's you.

Portugal's not gonna change. Portuguese aren't change, they're not wrong.

It's us. How do we manage ourselves in this new environment so that we can take advantage of all of the things that we dreamed about and we're here and we say, okay, now we're here. Now what? How do you reconcile that?

And that's an internal dialogue that I think takes place with a lot of us as expats all the time. The difference between being driven and thinking that being driven is actually satisfying and recognizing that satisfaction may come from a different way of thinking about who you are in this culture and how you go about being and dealing with your own emotions around it. That's my experience of it, and it's not everybody's but that's what's going on.

Is that helpful?

Josh: Absolutely. Well, I need to dig a little deeper. How do, you find satisfaction? How do you personally find satisfaction here? What does that look like?

Jimmie: I think an interesting thing is finding satisfaction in the fact that in order to come to Portugal, I had to change the way I operated around a lot of things just to get us here.

Josh: Okay.

Jimmie: Okay. So just take the D7 visa, you know, all, all folks know about it. For some, the D7 visa is a piece of cake.

For others, it is a real pain. And what I found is that I had to overcome a lot of hurdles around things that I had not done in the US cuz they didn't have to pay attention to them that much. And all of a sudden to pull all of this information together in a D7 format, if I don't have that information, I gotta go find it.

So learning to go back into the detail of things. And begin to find satisfaction with doing those planning, organizing, controlling tasks, which was not a part of my makeup, wasn't a part of my makeup. That was a real shift , and after two years of doing that, then while I find satisfaction, now, I really enjoy trying to figure out how to get through the Portuguese bureaucracy so that I can get what I really need to do. And so that's actually frustrating and satisfying at the same time. Satisfying because it's something that I hadn't come to kind of naturally so I'm applying new skills around getting on here in Portugal. So that's one of the things that comes up.

Josh: Great.

Jimmie: dealing with that bureaucracy , moving into recognizing when there's a conflict of, I gotta get this done, I gotta get this done. I was just pointed to the third room or the third building, and it's still the wrong building. And learning to be okay with that, , it really is okay. You know, Nobody's dying . So it's an internal journey.

Josh: It sounds like you've definitely grown in

Jimmie: patience

Yes, exactly. patience

Josh: I'm curious, to know about, , language, maybe struggles or successes that you and Mandy have had. You all are both practicing Portuguese and learning it. Are there any successes that you've had and then what are some of the bits of advice that you can give to learning Portuguese and also setting up realistic expectations for people because some people are gonna move here and have some real language issues.

Jimmie: We're the ones that, do have language issues and we are beginning to study of a little more systematically than we have. It is difficult.

Part of the challenge has been setting up the structure , and being aware that in order to progress on it, you need a plan. And that within that plan you need a structure and then you need instruction, and then you need connection with other people. And we are just at the beginning of seriously looking at learning the language we've played around with various apps, to get the sounds and that we've realized that those are as good as far as they take you. But they're, I think it's necessary to do more and the challenge is doing more, without making it a have to, gotta do it, if I don't do it, I'm a terrible person. And doing more, because it allows you to connect, it allows you to learn the culture, it allows you to meet people. It allows you to facilitate your life there more effectively. Coming to grips with the higher purpose of why am I learning the language?

It's beyond just being able to order a sardine. Way beyond that. How do you glom onto that higher level why do you wanna learn the language? Because you can get on without the language. And if English is widely spoken as we've heard, through the years. And it depends on the part of the country that you're in.

Josh: Yeah,

absolutely. As a whole, Portugal's ranked 7th in the world in terms of their language proficiency. It's one of 13 countries that, that ranks highly proficient. And giving a quick comparison compared to Spain, which is moderately proficient, if language is an issue for people and you're wondering, do I go to Portugal or Spain? Portugal, you're gonna have a much easier time in terms of language. Now, Spanish for English speakers tends to be a little, , faster of a learn just because there's more media out there, there's more exposure. lot of Americans are exposed to it, in the US. But yeah, Portugal's language proficiency is way, way up there.,

Jimmie: yeah.

Josh: We don't talk


it enough.

Jimmie: We've heard other people talk about this, any little thing that you do in the language is appreciated, It's subtle. It's like being kissed on the hand by the young woman who takes you down, it's , the subtleties of the connection that are important.

Just trying gets a smile.

Even if they have to correct you, you get a smile. If the communication after the smile is not there, there's been connection Even though they go back to English or you to pointing and smiling or whatever, the connection is made and it's just little kinds of things mean a lot In these particular situations.

Josh: And that's the cool thing about language is that it is The purpose of it. The is for connection. You're trying, you're communicating something to someone else for connective reason. something you said Earlier Keeping the why out in front of you and remembering why you're doing something can really help with some of the, just the mental stress that happens with making a move adapting to a new place. If you remember why you moved and you just continually remind yourself that it will really allow some of that stress and anxiety to dissipate much more rapidly.

Do you

get that?

Jimmie: I've got that? and it it started back, with you all going to CVS and we're deciding on Portugal and we've got a house to sell. Many years of crap in the house. And we don't want to take much of it with us.

It's easy to get bogged down in the details until you go on and listen to you and Kaylee talking about Portugal or the Good Morning Portugal Show people, , Carl Munson and Group, or even the Facebook pages allows. us to do exactly what you said, revisit the why. You need to get back to the why, otherwise you can get caught up. And the connection with the expat community has been one of the major things that kept the Y in front of us. We know why we're doing it.

We look at the videos, we listen to your podcasts. We are re enthused about it, and it allows us to access that creative part of us again and won't be great when, as opposed to getting bogged down in the detail.

Josh: And do you feel like the expat community in general in Portugal is a positive place to spend time and connect with people?

Jimmie: Yeah.

Very much. what I found is that for whatever reason, we're all in this together. and when we come together to talk about, the D7 , or, the problem with the NIFs or getting the housing kinds of stuff, you're connecting. You've got something in common, not just being North American or just an expat, but you've got something that you share in common and that's How you are solving problems, how others have solved problems, and then in the community, how we help each other solve problems. Because you can go online, and you can go to your site and the courses that you have, et cetera. There are challenges and issues, and the community provides that as a service.

It's invaluable. And it creates connection. It creates community. It helps create safety. It creates familiarity in terms of people who've we know, people who've gone before, we can do this too. They had the same problems that we did.

We can do this too. And now on this side of it, looking at the questions and concerns that people have, we're now on the other side.

We have the same. We have other ones, but we can be a little helpful with regard to what we did

Josh: No, that's


So it sounds like you, you have an easy time connecting with locals, so I'm wondering how you connect with expats off platform. Cuz during Covid we were all living our lives online a that, can be, good and bad, right? It can be a bit one dimensional.

So what do you do now that you're here to connect with people in real life?

Jimmie: There's spontaneous things that kind of emerge sometimes, and then they're the planned things. So the meetups that we have in Porto the physical meetups that you are fostering. are very helpful.

And there are other groups here that are fostered as well, but the physical meetups and sharing in real time what's going on and yourself, et cetera, it creates a familiarity and a sense of connection and that we're not alone. I used to work in the world of, Peace Corps volunteer training, and about one third of the volunteers, joined the Peace Corps and got in country, about a third of them left early.

They had two year commitment. They left at three to six months, and a large part of that was because they lack the connect. Once they learned the language, they connected better and so they could adapt to it. But a large part of it was not having the connection. And so what we discovered was that if we got them together once every three months in groups and they talked about their concerns, they didn't leave as early.

So the expat community also provides that kind of, of structure and support. We've all gone through the same kinds of things in a sense, and this sounds really weird, but this is the hero's journey.

If you look at the heroes, the Joseph Campbell stuff around, the call to a new place, all of a sudden the honeymoon is over and all of a sudden it's conflictual.

You have all kinds of problems at the bottom of the trough, and then you make friends. and then you make more friends. And once you've made the friends and the connections, you've moved into a different existence in the country. The expat community provides, a sense of appreciating our common journey and appreciating our common aspirations.

Cuz everybody's come for different reasons and the same reason. The different reasons are specific in terms of, I had a mortgage here and I had this and that. The same reasons are I'm needing a change in my life. Seeing new possibilities and opportunities that would emerge from my being in a different place, just intuitively knowing that if I'm in another country and I'm open enough, it will change me and I want to.

So the expat communities provide a lot of. A lot of support for that. So along with the meetups that we have, Mandy is starting to take some art classes here in Portu, and so she's made friends in the art community doing, urban sketching she's also part of a woman's group of expat women here in Portu who get together once, I guess it's once a week now, and just talk about how you solve problems, et cetera.

And I, I've met the men of the group, and so we chat. Then there's the spontaneous stuff that comes up. I walk out the door, I heard my doorbell ring. I thought it was mine. I opened the door and I see a gentleman going in the, apartment across from us that had been empty, but I knew somebody was there, happens to be from America.

We just spontaneously chat and we just went to Fado together. So it was that running into somebody and the coincidences and the synchronicities that began to emerge through this being here in this country actually overseas, but being open to, yeah, we can go to lunch. Yeah. Let's give that a shot. So a part of it is intentionality

and being

intentional about connection.

Josh: It sounds like your community here is super strong. Is there anything that would take you out of Porto? there another city that you would go to that you're interested in trying? Do you have that kind of wonder lust within the country itself?

Jimmie: Right now we don't, as we're getting settled in Portu, and though one of the things that was intriguing to me is being down in the Peniche and the Silver Coast area. I'm intrigued by that because it reminds me of my upbringing in California, and it reminds me of the California coast in the sixties, seventies, and eighties, and the feel is that the plants are like that.

So, it's very familiar. So I'd like to spend some more time there, not necessarily to live, but I'd like to visit there some more. and the other place I want to visit is the Azores or Açores and Madiera. Now I lived in Hawaii for a year or so, and it reminds me very much of the topography of the big island of Hawaii. And it's, it pulls me

Josh: Definitely. Absolutely.

Jim, at expats Everywhere, we believe that living abroad transforms lives. How has living abroad transformed your life?

Jimmie: I've lived abroad off and on for, most of my career. And so the first transformative experience was being a Peace Corps volunteer in India, and that was living abroad with a language of very different culture

that was beneficial to others in that new place. What you ran up against, but I didn't know it at the time, and I think we do it here, is it's transformative because it, forces you to rethink how you show up. And rethink how you're gonna be in this moment, in this new situation. living in Baltimore or Washington or whatever you, many times you don't have to think about that. You can get to the supermarket and you can get everywhere. You can get in line and. Do all of those things, but then all of a sudden you're here and it's all different and you're the conversation in your own head about it. And so it's transformative in terms of the way in which you think about yourself in terms of your capabilities. It's a, real eye open. And it's not necessarily negative. You may see some things that you might, oh my God, really? Am I thinking that? Or am I doing that? And that can be transformative, if we get past it a little bit, if we let it stick us, then we get stuck and we can be stuck.

Josh: That's right. Yeah.

Those negative things can many times make us a better person in the end, once we get through it, once we gain some perspective, maybe

Jimmie: perspective and distance Exactly. exactly.

Josh: Yeah. Jim, thank you so much for just the inspirational chat that we had and I think the listener's gonna get a lot from this.

Jimmie: Well, You're so welcome. It's a pleasure to be with you again. Very much,

Josh: Thank you,

Jimmie: and I want you to know, you're really doing good, good work for the community. It's really necessary. It's needed and what you do transforms lives. What you do matters really does

Josh: thank you,

that that gives me chills. I appreciate it. I really do mean, Kaylee and I definitely set out on this journey to honestly help as many people as we can experience what we have experienced while living abroad. And, the fact that, we've turned this into full-time jobs is a complete blessing.

But, it's also something that is, is not lost on us. and we still keep the why out in front of us, which is, helping people move abroad because living abroad transforms lives. And I think, I hope that if we keep doing that, we'll continue to grow as a business and continue to help more people

Jimmie: yeah. It's working.

It's working

Josh: Thank you. I appreciate it.

Jim, if you would tell us how can people connect?

Jimmie: They can connect with my email, and I'd, be happy to connect with people who are interested any aspect of coming to Portugal or our experience. We've hosted a couple of folks, friends who've come through and we show 'em around a little bit, so they're most welcome to connect on that.

I'd be more than willing to answer emails or get on Zoom or whatever it happens to be.

And I guess I would say to that, if you're thinking about it, do it. If you're thinking about it, do it.

Creators and Guests

Jim White
Author, collaborator, and champion of transformational workshop design. Contact him at jimmiewhite1@mac.com.
Jim and his Love and Excitement for Making Large Changes in his life
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