Monday, March 12, 2012

Pushing the envelope

Arrivederci a tutti! Vado in Italia!
So long, everyone, I'm going to Italy!

My world in Zagarolo
Getting ready for a three-month stay in Italy is always a bit stressful, especially when work projects take up a lot of time in the weeks before I leave. This year I've had some last minute hassles with a new computer and my Italian cellphone to add to the mix. Planning my stay in Italy once or twice a year is an exciting, but anxious pursuit: sometimes I think it would be easier to just go, once and for all, and not come back. But since I'm not yet able to do that, I tread these uneasy waters in order to at least spend part of the year where I most love to be.

In the last week before I leave, especially, I begin to question my sanity. What is this compelling force that pushes me to challenge myself, year after year, when others seem more content to hear about adventures than to have any of their own? The urge to become more has been such a strong force in my life, from an early age even, that trying to understand it was the focus of my graduate education, as well as the career I chose as a psychologist/personal coach. Indeed, the name of my coaching practice is Become More, as is the title of this blog.

As I learned techniques that allowed me to challenge myself more effectively, I was able to develop classes to teach others how to do the same. As I learned about effective risk-taking, developing a tolerance for ambiguity and building mental toughness, I shared these concepts with clients and students. For several decades, I helped others to crystallize and then go after their most cherished dreams. After a time, however, the need to achieve my own dreams became more compelling than helping others to do so.

living the dream, Firenze, 2010
Thus, here I am, pushing myself into the unknown once again, eager to enlarge my world, yet uncertain of the outcome. However, there are some certainties along the way, which pull me forward. For instance, I will spend two weeks visiting an unknown region of Italy, giving me the chance to see unusual villages, spend time by the sea, and enjoy the renowned cuisine of Puglia. I know that I will have a lovely place to live in Zagarolo for two months and I will be able to explore Rome and its environs as much as I like. I have many Italian friends eager to spend time with me, some who are even willing to travel across the country to visit me in Zagarolo. In May, several friends from Kansas will come to visit, and I'll have the chance to share my Italian life with them. For these factors alone, it is worth the stress and anxiety that inevitably comes with my travels.

And on the horizon, another opportunity has presented itself: a chance to live in a villa! The family of one of my Italian friends has invited me to live in their family villa, located in a small village south of Padova. In fact, they would pay me to do so. The villa is quite large, and has some historical significance, as Napoleon once spent the night there. It sounds almost too good to be true! And yet there are some challenges to consider: the most pressing ones are that the villa has not been modernized and there is no internet connection. Due to the thickness of the villa walls, an internet key would probably not be sufficient for the work that I do. However, since the opportunity has come up, I need to check it out, which means I need to plan a trip to Padova sometime this spring to meet with the family and see the villa. After all, an aged aunt lived in the villa until recently, and she was almost 106! If she could cope with the place, surely I can!

If there's one thing I've learned about making dreams come true, it's this: it is essential to act when an opportunity presents itself that is aligned with your goals. Perhaps it will not work out, or perhaps it can never know unless we put ourselves out there, push through the anxiety of not knowing what comes next, and see what happens. Since my goal is to spend more time in Italy, and living in this villa could offer me a more permanent residence, it's compelling me to consider the possibilities.

It's time to go, to push the envelope, embracing the chance to become more, eager to enjoy more of my new life in a new land.


LindyLouMac said...

The next chapter of your adventure is about to start. I will be following you with interest as always.

marybeth said...

grazie, I am honored by your presence.

a presto!