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The first few days in Lisbon...and the Judge

I have arrived in Portugal! After smooth travel with empty seats next to me on both flights (bonus), I landed Saturday morning. I immediately set out to explore the city. It was mid-50’s and sunny, perfect for walking and outdoor dining. I needed to move and nourish my body. Learning about my home for the next 5 weeks and experiencing something new.

Lisbon is stunning. The streets are filled with outdoor cafes where people enjoy espresso, wine, pastries and being social. Walking around feels both peaceful and historic. I sense things were created for beauty more than functionality and that expression of love and art pulses through the city. The people are calm, respectful and friendly. Over the last few days I have walked many miles and tried to take it all in.


There is a quote in Eat, Pray, Love where Elizabeth Gilbert explains why she is traveling for a year. “I want to go some place where I can marvel at something: language, gelato, spaghetti, something.” This longing is a reason I chose Lisbon and embodies my lust for life. Marveling at new places is deep in my soul and as I walk the hilly, cobblestone streets looking up at iron balconies and colorful tiles I can’t help but feel this.


Timing of life is always interesting. I received a coaching grant to train in Positive Intelligence that started last week. The theory is within all of us are positive, discerning and resonant sage powers plus saboteurs that aren’t as nice. They are the voice in our head generating negative emotions in reaction to everyday life and the reason we self-sabotage. These patterns engrained in us from childhood shape how we think, feel and respond. Saboteurs cause stress, anxiety, doubt, frustration, restlessness and unhappiness. Eek, right? While they may have protected us when young, they rarely serve our wellbeing as adults. The master saboteur is the Judge affecting how we view (and judge) ourselves, others and situations.


How does the Judge relate to me being in Lisbon? The saboteurs get really loud when we try new things or go through change. And let’s get real. Lisbon is beautiful and I am marveling, yet it is different and uncomfortable. I’ve never been here before, I don’t speak Portuguese, I don’t know anyone and all the little things that aren’t perfect can build up. The Judge is great at telling us, “we will be happy when ______”. Yet the when is always a moving target that we never truly reach. So in this new experience with the loud construction next door or being lost and frustrated or feeling lonely, the Judge loves to creep in. I have the choice to listen to the Judge and say the next time will be better when ______ OR lean into my sage powers and handle new experiences with a calm mind and positive emotions like being patient, compassionate and curious.


The Judge and other saboteurs never go away yet we can quiet their chatter. We can take the perspective of being grateful in the present moment especially when trying something new. I am also honoring simplicity in this new place. The olives with orange peel at a cozy restaurant, the strong coffee and custard filled pastries, the yoga studio offering classes in English, the conversation with a shopkeeper, the warm ramen noodles I eat while writing this.


The Judge can have us chasing the next big thing, taking us out of the beauty right now. Or we can choose to look around and see what is in front of us. Maybe that is a cobblestone road in a far off country. Or maybe it is the coziness of our home. Having a sense of peace for where we are in this moment, whether new or familiar.


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