This part of the dream is over (for now) and I want to thank all who helped contribute to make my dream come true. I am fortunate to have so many people in my life who offer me support in different ways at different times and they provide me with the nudges to move forward.
I wanted to post this on Thanksgiving, but obviously that didn’t happen! It doesn’t matter because every day should be Thanksgiving where we take time to be grateful for the things that matter for us most. We do have blessings all around us each and every day – it’s just a matter of recognizing them. Here are my special blessings in regard to this dream:
AJITH: He’s one awesome travel partner, friend, and thrill seeker. I can honestly say that I probably wouldn’t have ventured to Greece or Turkey without him and he didn’t have any fear. Ajith has shown me to try new things without fearing them, a quality of his I admire. What impresses me the most about him is that he left behind everything he knew to come to study in the US 11 years ago. In this time, he’s adapted to the American culture, grown leaps and bounds in his career setting up a fabulous, successful life here. I am proud to be one of his closest friends. He offers support and encouragement when needed and has never doubted any of my ‘crazy ideas.’
STEFANI: My best friend. She is exactly that – the best! When I have self-doubt, or if I’m overwhelmed, she always knows how to calm me down and feel better about whatever it is. She actually was one of the people who encouraged me to do this when I told her my crazy idea. She’d actually just finished “Eat, Pray, Love” and said she thought I should do something like that, and it was ironic that I was bringing it up with her that it was something I wanted to do. I love bouncing ideas off her because she always comes up with new things I haven’t thought of, and offers new ways of approaching it and/or different perspectives. She was one of my biggest cheerleaders to pursue this dream, and I am thankful for Stefani. She is beautiful inside and out!
TERESA and GIACINTA: I really do believe that finding Teresa and Giacinta was one of the reasons I was called to come to Seattle. These two have made a huge difference in my life over the past 3 years since I’ve met them. They have similar beliefs that I do, and that’s what pulled us together. They never look at things to be impossible, they figure out what needs to change to make what they want to happen, and have some amazing manifestation powers! They have blessed me with their friendship and no matter what, we’ll always be close friends! (Teresa is first, then Giacinta and I)
JOY AND RITA: Also two fantastic friends of mine who remind me a lot of Teresa and Giacinta (but in different ways, of course). These two ladies, as well as many others, gave me a strong foundation to believe in dreams, to reach for the stars, and never underestimate what the Universe can provide. I’ve enjoyed being a part of their growth in the past few years, and am even more grateful for their part in mine!
ANNE: She and I have been on our own paths the past few years and I’m happy that we’ve been able to share about our journey with one another openly and honestly through the ups and downs. Her true compassion and openness has been very appreciated and I thank her for also providing me with her courage as she also battles through the unknown to discover her own hopes and dreams.
ANDREA: She was the first person I told about my wild idea one morning over breakfast at Peso’s on the snowy February morning moments after I had this wild idea pop into my head. She was very excited about this, and it built my own momentum to look forward to it all.
KEREM: He is the second person I told about my idea over dinner on the same snowy day I saw Andrea. He listened patiently with a smile on his face (as he often does) to all the things I was thinking about that I’d have to take care of knowing all too well what it was about. He moved to Canada then the US from Turkey about 3 years ago and really understood what a big undertaking it is. He’d also lived in Denmark for a period of time when he was young. He has always impressed me with his ability to also fit into another culture without seeming to have difficulty. He has always very supportive of me leaving my job in pursuit of my own business, so it was no surprise he continued to encourage me to go after what I wanted because he understood my connection to Italy. I am grateful he’s in my life – I continue to learn a great deal from him each and every time. I love our long get-togethers, which usually involves a slow-paced, relaxing dinner with some wine.
JAKE: He totally gets my passion for all things Italian, as he’d lived in Italy for 2 years and found himself back in the US still trying to find what fits what he wants. It amazes me that he lived in Italy without knowing any Italian and is fluent today in the language! We both share a love for this country, and he was also very excited when I told him how things were falling together. He is fun to talk to about it, and he’s great to practice Italian with too! 🙂
I also must thank my family who pushed back a bit with my idea of chasing after this dream. Though they may not have thought I was right in doing this, I know they really do have my best interest at heart and will stand up to me when they are concerned. I want people who know me best to feel comfortable doing so. Though in this case I chose to do something they were so against, as it always seems to…it worked out, and I’m a better person as a result of breaking the mold and spreading my wings.
Also, when dreams do finally come true often the turn out differently than you expect. It’s the end result that has the most impact (at least for me). Here are some of the people who contributed to making my dream look the way it did:
DENNY: I haven’t met someone this passionate about something in a long while. He is on a similar path pursuing his dreams of winning the Green Card lottery to move to the US, being involved in the theatre, and teaching other languages. I saw his potential to reach high above what is possible (given the current situation in Italy), and I want nothing more than for he and his wife to have their dreams come true. I want to help them get that much closer to it. I spent a great amount of time providing tips I know that may be useful, such as looking over his resume so that a US employer may consider him seeing all his experience. I look from time to time for jobs that he may be interested in, and gave him some good US websites to job search. Nothing is harder to job search from afar! He showed me how lucky I’ve been to be able to do what I want with few (if any) restrictions/difficulties. We have developed a nice friendship I’m confident will last a long, long time! I look forward to seeing he and his wife’s dream come true, and will be there to celebrate with them when they do!
GIUSEPPE: Though he and I didn’t really know one another, I got to see him in action every day as my waiter in the cafe I’d go to daily for a cappuccino in Sicily. I saw the devotion Giuseppe has for his family because he works at their cafe day in and out. I have no idea if he ever wanted to get out of Catania and do other things besides work for his family, but I do know that he was one hard worker with a pleasant smile on his face daily. It was a constant reminder to me that not all of us have it easy. Sometimes you need to give up some things to do what’s best for where you are, and more specifically in his case it was doing what’s right by his family, and assuming he has goals/dreams, they take a back seat. I take for granted the idea that in the US we often can just pick up and go elsewhere just because we want to and/or because we can – not in this case for Giuseppe. He may be perfectly happy where he is, but it helped me realize that if he’s not, he’s stuck. What a position to be in. Either way he has a smile on his face every day, and that’s one of the best ways to go about life. 🙂
GRAZYNA: A student from Poland I met during my time in Sicily. She never has traveled without her husband, and as a gift he sent her to Italy on her own for 2 weeks. She was a reminder to embrace independence (one of my own goals for this trip) though it may be scary at times, and also that it all works out in the end. It was also a lot of fun because she speaks Polish, Italian, and a bit of English, so Italian was our only common language. This significantly helped my ability to speak without worrying about making mistakes and in the process of it all we had many laughs, and shared a lot of fun times. We are thinking about meeting up in Italy again next year to study some more (probably in a different place) together. How fun would that be?
ANTONELLA: She was my teacher in Tropea for 2 weeks. She was a sweet person who presented the ‘real life’ perspective of Italy to me in the many conversations we’d have. She pointed out that life in Italy isn’t always as sweet as the world thinks it is. She pointed out how challenging it is to be there forever (especially given the economic state the country is in). She told me when someone retires, there is nothing more available that helps them grow as people, quite the contrary to how it is in the US. She said many people there let themselves just get old, they sit on a bench watching people go by with little (if any) outside stimulation. Many who retire here in the US travel, discover the new hobbies they were too busy to get involved with, or move to their favorite place in hopes of living carefree and finding the happiness they worked years to achieve. Antonella pointed out the challenges of growing old in the country and how sad and lonely it can be. Quite a different viewpoint that many of us hold of life in Italy simply because many never think beyond the fabulous 2 or 3 week vacation spent there. She really opened my eyes!
NICOLA: The director of the last school I went to in Tropea. He and I also developed a friendship over my time there due to we’re similar in age, and he’s very friendly (as were most people in the South of Italy). He introduced me to many of his friends and brought me out to enjoy some of the other things Tropea had to offer – lots of fun! It was a perfect way to end my time in Italy solo. By the end, he (and Antonella) both commented how much I improved my language skills, and asked if I’d ever considered working in Italy. I was flabbergasted as you could imagine, for 2 reasons: 1) I didn’t think I was that good…yes I could get around and have conversations and actually know what was going on, but really!? and 2) Italians can’t find work here, why would I be able to? He told me that if someone has English skills and can speak Italian they’re in much higher demand in the tourism industry. He suggested getting a job like a tour guide or something. At first I dismissed it, but now that I’m back it the US I’m missing the simplicity Europe has to offer. I’m considering going back again in the Spring at the start of tourist season (which ends around September-ish) if I am able to find something with my skill set. If it works out, why not do it while I am open and free and know the language as well as I do? I am grateful he opened up a new possibility to me to explore.
Lastly, I’d like to thank YOU, my readers, for coming with me along the way on my journey. I’ve heard from some people I haven’t heard from in years, I’ve received a lot of kind words of encouragement, and have heard a lot of “I kept up with your blog…” but had no idea as many people were reading it as there were. I still may never know who all this blog reached, but whomever it did, I hope you have enjoyed and that somehow you were inspired/intrigued and that you had fun!
In summary, I feel incredibly blessed to have encountered everyone mentioned and to have all these people in my life. You never know how someone you meet (even just once) can affect you and/or what you may learn from him or her. Some people come and go from but often impressions are made that last a lifetime…
This will be my last official blog entry about this dream, though I am working on what my next “dream” is. I am at a crossroads at this time – the world is open and anything can happen. I’m very excited, as 2012 is a year of projected shifts and changes for all of us.
I will be updating my blog periodically with thoughts/ideas/stuff about my next steps but I will not publish them on Facebook again until there are plans in motion. If you’d like to keep checking back from time to time, you’re welcome to.