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Journal Post #25: June 5th 2023, Bitola North Macedonia
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No matter what the problem is, my solutions man (aka my partner Alan) will always find a way to solve it. He sees problems as opportunities. Our life is a puzzle to be solved, with infinite pieces that can fit this way or that. Working out this puzzle excites him, gets him on his toes, is a game he can never stop playing. I can see it in his eyes when he gets in “the zone”, his mind churning while analyzing every possible move.
Just living a regular life will present you with lots of challenges and decisions, and our lives are nothing but regular. The past year specially, with us traveling full time, has been a constant onslaught of decision making and problem solving. But even before that our lives were complicated - by choice of course! But for Alan, nothing is too complicated and almost everything can be figured out. And after almost ten years of marriage, I can attest that in fact yes, almost everything can be figured out.
This is the reason we now own a car in Europe.
Yup, we bought an American-made car in France and shipped it to Bulgaria and now we own an 11-year old chevy in Europe. To be honest, I am not sure how this happened. One day I was planning our three+ month route in the Balkans and casually mentioned it would be a lot easier if we owned a car, and the next day Alan already had a plan to ship our car from Mexico to Greece (this was just one of the options, which we didn’t end up doing).
Side note: owning a car in Europe is *not* like owning one in the United States. Europe is extremely bureaucratic and non-residents cannot buy cars. I will spare you the details but my point is that it was extremely complicated to buy it, even-though we have Italian passports!
When we run into these “opportunities”, Alan gets laser focused on ways to get around the challenge, tame the problem, make it work to our advantage, turn it into an adventure. I have dozens of examples of this in action, from figuring out how to rent our cars back home to becoming Italian. He is always a step ahead, and has Plan A, B, and C in his pocket. I can’t think of a time he didn’t achieve what he was aiming for, and that includes marrying me, but that is a story for another time.
The truth is that I wish us all a bit of Alan; a dash of his encouraging anxiety, much of his focus and perseverance, a sprinkle of his strong mindedness, a lot of his self confidence.
Alan took this personality test a while back; about “the voices in your head that generate negative emotions in the way you handle life’s everyday challenges”. I ended up doing it myself and it was surprisingly accurate and illuminating for both of us. You can have many different voices, saboteurs as they call them, like avoider, controller, hyper-achiever, pleaser, etc. Alan’s top saboteurs were Hyper-Vigilant and Hyper-Rational while mine were Restless and Controller. Basically, I am constantly in search of greater excitement and want to be in control, while Alan is always analyzing everything and worried about what could go wrong (hence making Plan A,B,C). Even though these saboteurs can be negative, you can also manage them in a positive way, and I think we have found a perfect match in our natural tendencies. We sort of balance each other out.
Regardless of the reason, we now own a car in this part of the world and are at the very beginning of our three and a half month roadtrip through the Balkans, specifically Bulgaria, North Macedonia, Albania, Kosovo, Romania, Serbia, Bosnia, Montenegro, Croatia, and Slovenia! I already have so much to share about the region and its extremely complicated history, but more on that next week!
Please leave a comment about anything you are curious about the Balkans and would like for me to deep dive on in the next few months!