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3 posts categorized "Madelaine Steber"

Kilometre Zero

Last weekend I had a tranquil saunter through the chilly city, under Christmas lights, and in good company. We had no destination in mind, yet found ourselves in an Irish pub watching the Barcelona vs. Real Madrid game. We moved farther towards the center of the city to find pizza and papas fritas. We noticed a small bus cruising around the center and thought, why not? So we jumped on with no place to go, ate our food, and engaged in a nice conversation with a Spaniard. We jumped off once our food was finished and our hands warmed to satisfaction. Every now and then, no destination can end up being the best.

The next day we set out for coffee and postcards and I had a little side mission to find the zero kilometer origin of Spain.


I found Kilometre Zero, or in other words the “zero mile marker” used traditionally to measure distances for roads and guidebooks. It’s located in Puerta del Sol in front of the old Royal House of the Post Office. I found it in a tourist guide magazine before looking for it in person and sure enough I stumbled upon a huddle of tourists looking down and snapping photos.

Sometimes we’re so busy planning our weekend trips and vacations that we forget to have a simple jaunt around the city we’re in. So please, this holiday season, make sure to enjoy the sights in the area you’re in. Sometimes the simplest pleasures hold the least amount of pressure and bring the most joy.

What Routine?


What Routine?

I despise routine. I think it’s boring, predictable, and if you’re following one everyday, then you must be living a boring life.

Okay, so that’s a quote from my younger self…

After moving to a foreign country, working and working out travel plans, I find myself craving a routine. I’m craving the protection and security that a routine can provide.

Where am I traveling for the long weekend? What am I doing tonight? What am I eating for dinner? These simple questions are a breeze and easy to answer but from time to time, they lead me into more difficult topics.

What am I doing with my life? Where will I settle down? What big girl job will I have as a career? Do I want a big girl job?

These questions deter me from my beautiful present life here in Madrid, Spain! So I’m going to break down my day.

Here’s my typical workday at a primary/elementary school in Spain:

  • I wake up, like most people do and I get ready for work.
  • I arrive at my job before 9a.m.
  • I have three classes
  • I have a coffee break
  • I have another class
  • I have an hour break
  • I have another hour for lunch
  • I have two more classes

I work Monday-Thursday and two out of those four days, I teach private English lessons after school.

After classes I might go for a jog around Retiro Park, get a coffee with a friend, explore a new area of the city, or sometimes I go salsa dancing.

It changes day-to-day, night-to-night, and weekend-to-weekend. Balance is a moment-to-moment challenge no matter where your “habitat” might reside.

I think it’s natural to crave a familiar routine to recharge, especially in a thriving capital city. I’m not sure when a new place stops being new but I enjoy the time I spend in figuring it out.

Writer's Block


Photo by: Megan Budweg 

Writer’s block: “a condition, primarily associated with writing, in which an author loses the ability to produce new work or experiences a creative slowdown. The condition ranges in difficulty from coming up with original ideas to being unable to produce a work for years.”

Here’s the truth. I love Madrid, I love Spain, and I love traveling. So much so, that the pressure to record it all down with words or in a photo is difficult to do. How do I express to you everything I’m experiencing in a way that will be simple to understand? Well, it’s not simple. There’s a pressure here and so often with social media to document everything we’re doing, from what we’ve had for breakfast, to our next vacation, to our wedding day…

What can I say that hasn’t been said before? What can I share that hasn’t been shared before?

Let’s start with why I write, I write because it’s my favorite creative outlet. I have countless journals with my thoughts and stories all written down. Journaling has been my outlet since I was ten years old when my grandma Heidi bought me my first journal for my 10th birthday.

So what do you do when your favorite creative outlet has shut you out?

Find another outlet I suppose…

Okay, cool. So what’s another outlet?

For me, I hesitantly decided… exercise?

So I went for my first jog in Madrid. My thoughts have been tangled for some time now and trying to write any of them down started to feel more like work and stress rather than relaxing and therapeutic. I decided I want to experience the city of Madrid in a different way, through sweat dripping down my face and the pulse of my heart in hopes of heightening my senses.

I come from a very small woodsy Michigan area where outdoor exercise was once a revitalizing and stimulating resource in my life. Here in Madrid the green is scarce, not unlike most cities but I was more accustomed to breathing in the fresh pine scented air, especially throughout Michigan’s ever changing seasons.

The streets of Madrid are always full with a lot of cars, streetlights, crosswalks, and narrow sidewalks. Listening to music helped drown out the city noise but the waves of people slowed me down. Weaving in and out of blurred faces and cigarette smoke made me nauseous. Nonetheless, I was ready to accept this as my running reality when not a mile in I hit Retiro Park. Gated in by a historically beautiful black iron fence and just like that, the city changed:


fresh mint

leafy cool chill

Fall launching from

tree branch and stem

saturate nose

filling lungs full chest


unlike outside


Maybe it was the nostalgic outdated playlist on my phone or maybe it was Retiro Park itself. Maybe it was the timing of the evening but this small cage of green was filled with a community. People running, walking, training, stretching, playing with their dogs, each with a purpose unknown to me. It felt like one large and strange support group. As I jogged around the park I could see the rest of the city passing by through the fence. It was like watching a trailer to the movie of your life, a place you’re temporarily separated from but will join again shortly. I moved along the trail in the park with the restless runners, the restless like me and just like that, I could write again.

Screen shot 2016-10-22 at 3.10.40 PM

Retiro Park via Google 

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