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"Introducing the Thompson's Unsame Life Adventure"

Introducing the Thompson’s Unsame Life Adventure


On Thursday, October 31st, 2019 at 3:30 pm we arrived to our new home in Xavia, Spain nestled along the Mediterrean coastline of Costa Blanca. It was a gorgeous day: warm and sunny; bright blue skies; blooming flowers and green trees; singing birds. The heavens might have been singing for how we were feeling. We had started our journey the previous morning at 9:30 am, traveling from Montevideo Minnesota with our 2 young girls, Francesca age 5 and Esther, just shy of 3. We pulled up to our new home in a private bus with 12 bags and awaited our new friends and partners in this unsame life adventure. 


The preparation to start this adventure included freeing our household of excess stuff, tightening up business transactions, and a few trips to Chicago with literally a foot high worth of paperwork for the Spanish consulate. Really, the process of moving overseas is worthy of it’s own blog. I am surprised and grateful at how traveling with a young family and the transition of making a house a home with a different family has been so seamless. I mean my gosh, my husband and I didn’t have one argument in all of the prep to get out the door! For those of you with young kids, doing a lot and never enough time, maybe you understand what I’m saying. This feels very natural. We are completely at peace. Living this life feels like coming home.


Sometimes when I’m outside in the warmth of the sun admiring the blooming bougainvilleas adorning the white walled exterior, I think “Wow! How is it possible that we are living our dream life right now? How did we even get here?  When I reflect back on what I desired for our family life, my heart always craved community. I mean deep, real, joyous and hard relational connecting. I want my girls to grow up living in that kind of context; understanding what it looks like to serve and be served; to be loved well by more than just your immediate family. Though we have had beautiful experiences in the communities we have lived, specifically Tacoma WA and Montevideo MN, the depth of relational living I desired was lacking, not for lack of people but for lack of my time to invest in others. 


Another strong motivator for us was how we desired to educate our girls. While we were still in the dream phase of having a family, Erle and I would share the kind of life we desired to have with children. It went something like this..”Wouldn’t it be cool to travel around the world educating our kids? We could go to Normandy and learn about WWII; Rome to learn about the Romans; New England to understand the American Revolution” We even thought it would be neat to hire a photographer to follow us around, taking pictures of us just living life. 


My husband and I are doers, combine that with doers who are also dreamers and our 10 years together is filled with big aspirations backed by a lot of committed action. I was pursuing good things, some even great like opening a Montessori school in a rural community. Research had led us to Montessori. A graduate degree in Montessori called my heart to open a school in order to share an incredible learning philosophy with our community. Wildwood Montessori exceeded our expectation of an education for our girls. Yet we were not living out the intention we desired for our family. There was a gap between intention and action. 

Then, I don’t even think I could define the gap. I just knew how it showed up in our life. It looked like unrest, conflict with my husband, impatience with my girls, really overwhelmed and not enough time for one of my greatest desires: real, authentic relationship.


It was the whirl of all of this that brought me to what felt like a nervous breakdown. I entered about a 2 week period of sheer brokenness. I couldn’t sleep, couldn’t eat. I felt like I couldn’t make any decisions. I felt completely inadequate. All of this led me to my knees in prayer. Something needed to change for the sake of our family life. I didn’t know what or how. The only thing I knew to do was pray.


Scriptures like “do not grow weary in doing good” and “be strong and courageous” would come to mind and I thought “what does that mean?” “What are we supposed to do?” We thought we’d have to choose between Wildwood remaining open or us moving elsewhere. We were specifically looking at my teaching in a Montessori school in Europe or Asia in order to give us the international experience. All the while, in this time that felt like a very black hole of the unknown, we surrendered plans and just kept asking “what is possible?”. Then it happened.


I came upon a little write up describing an “Unsame Life”. I read it and said “Oh my gosh this is us!” This is US! I immediately emailed Bart. He wrote back and we scheduled a zoom call. We connected like old time friends and talked for an hour. It was easy to see how our experiences  led us to that very moment in time. We then scheduled a zoom with us as couples. Soon after, Bart and Evelien boldly flew their family from Belgium to stay with us for 4 days in a Minneapolis AirBnB. All of us connected, to include the children who are nearly the same age. We brimmed with excitement about what we could create together and for others.


Our decision was made. We were going to Spain to start a co-living, co-working, co-educating model with our new friends from Belgium. Wildwood Montessori would affiliate with a larger Montessori network called Wildflower Montessori Schools and its impact in the community would live on. The possibility of Wildwood remaining to serve the community and our family embarking on an adventure creating a new concept never occurred to me as an option. It is the result of taking action while continually being open to possibility; not holding any plan too tightly. 


The period of time up to those two solutions unfolding felt like a crazy rollercoaster; yet we received the circumstances that occurred with an openness and an acceptance and always with the question “What is possible?” As these two options became clear the lid of any limited beliefs was blown off; completely disintegrated in the miraculous spin of circumstances that allowed for two huge wins. I gained so much confidence that anything is really possible. I learned the beauty of surrendering plans. I mean really surrendering; really being okay with whatever happens, knowing we gave our best. Gosh is that a more peaceful way to handle difficulty! This experience was a huge faith booster for me. I gained even greater confidence that God does indeed care and act in the affairs of humanity.  


Here we are, a week into our “Unsame Life” adventure. Yet it doesn’t feel unsame. It feels like what we have been moving toward for twelve years. Right now feels like this perfect combination of preparedness meeting intention. It is the result of all the little decisions we made over time with a faithful heart and an intentional mindset. Intentional and believing in possibility are probably the best ways to describe my husband and I. The experiences that led us to this moment, though some very challenging, do not feel like costs. Our past is a tapestry of experiences woven together to prepare us for this present moment. We can see any sacrifice, any challenge, any victory as serving to equip us for right here and now.  Right now feels like all the things that make me feel peaceful and cozy and like we are doing the right thing for how we desire to live our life. In this story, our story, I saw a seed of our most epic adventure thus far planted from one of my darkest moments. The unfolding of it all is an illuminating reminder of God’s faithfulness, His goodness; the value of surrendered plans and trusting in a good and gracious God who does indeed care about the desires of our heart. 


I invite you to follow our story. You’ll likely learn as we learn what it looks like to live, work, play and educate with other families. Will you recognize yourself in this story? Our whole intention is that others get to enjoy living an “Unsame Life” too! We get to practice real human connection within a mesh of cultures. We get to explore the wondering questions, “what does it look like to live authentically? To act with loving intention in the care of families and a shared home? To respect differences without judgement? To practice in real time peaceful conflict resolution and truthful, yet loving communication? What will this mean for our children? How will this equip them as servant leaders in the world? As compassionate friends? How will they grow in standing up for themselves while also seeking to understand others? We get to embrace and share in an education model that equips children as problem solvers, creative thinkers, compassionate and empathetic servant leaders preparing them in the greatest way possible for 21st Century living (check out Montessori and Acton Academy). Oh and a tiny extra bonus, we get to be locals in incredible places around the world!


Welcome to Unsame Life and explore living connected.

#world schooling #family holidays in spain
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