Tapping away on my keyboard, I reread phrases, type and delete words, and feel a range of emotions in the span of a few hours as I write. Sometimes my emotions are a reflection of the content itself. Other times they are conflicting expressions of belief and doubt in my ability as a writer. One moment I am on top of the world as I conquer another chapter. Then I read a beautifully written poem, or finish a classic novel and wonder . . . What on earth do I have to say that anyone would want to read.
The doubts pile up as I watch an online writing course. Published authors advise, “Don’t turn your life upside down and quit your day job to write. That rarely turns out well.” Ouch! Despite the tiny pang of worry those words give me, I smile and let them go.
The decision to start fresh percolated within me for a couple years. It began with internal shifts in my mind and heart that led to holding myself accountable for my life. I made a lot of good changes for sure. But, I continued to allow my environment to derail me. I clung to familiar roles and comfortable patterns that kept me stuck in a life I had outgrown. I was anchored to family, an expensive home and career, and wondered why my life wasn’t changing. The all familiar comfort zone kept change at bay and me safe from the possibility of failure.
It turns out that cutting off all my options was exactly what I needed to jumpstart my life, a change of scenery was necessary. An idea that both terrified and exhilarated me. A little phrase of advice I had often given others played repeatedly in my head. “Wherever you go, you take you with you,” suggesting that changing geography doesn’t necessarily change your life. I told myself again and again, what I was doing was different. I wasn’t running away from life, I was starting a new life. At least that’s what I hoped I was doing.
As the plane left the runway, I looked out the window. The magnitude of my decision hit hard, no job, no house, no return ticket and on my own. Teary eyed, I made a promise to myself. I had taken this leap of faith, and I had better damn well commit to the adventure one hundred percent, no turning back. The beginning was really tough. The me I brought with me, was still driven to action by feelings of guilt and responsibility. I continued to search for my worth in the love and approval of others. I fought homesickness and loneliness. But I would not go home.
Instead, I focused on the beautiful distractions of Italy, and dove into my writing. More importantly, I made conscious choices every day, throughout the day, about my thoughts and feelings. I meditated, stayed positive and grounded in my work. I looked inward for love, worthiness, and answers. I made decisions that served me and my goals.
I adopted a standard response for the question I am always asked, “How are you doing?” I consistently reply, “I am having an amazing adventure AND I miss home and my family.” No “BUT,” always “AND” to emphasize that happiness , missing loved ones and chasing dreams are not mutually exclusive. At first the words were scripted to keep me brave and on track. Now they are my own authentic words, heart felt.
Living in Italy is inspiring and beautiful. AND missing family and friends has made those relationships stronger. Distance and time have changed the me I brought with me. Giving and receiving love comes more easily. With the time difference, voice to voice calls are few, spoken words are precious, I use them wisely and listen more intently. I send lots of love notes too.
Not everyone needs to quit their job, sell their house and move halfway across the world to realize their dreams, good fortune, and worth. But I did. And quitting my day job has not yet produced a published book . . . But, it will.
As cliche as it sounds, it really is true . . . It’s not the destination, it’s the journey.
Italy is amazing AND I love and miss all of you.