I was interviewed for a radio show this week and was asked what I learned from my trip in Italy…
Well, first, I learned to stop and smell the roses. This is about so much more than a flower. It is about the little things that I know I like, the things I know will make me smile and the things that I constantly miss. The anxiety and chaos of life kept me from enjoying the little things like the scent of a rose for years. I want to say that I am going to keep fresh cut flowers in my house at all times from now on, but I think we all know that is unrealistic. However, I can have them as much as possible and I can notice them where they are, outside of my home. Today, I went to the cemetery to visit my Aunt and stayed on my knees until I no longer had any circulation working in my legs. As I talked to her, I noticed the overwhelming number of flowers around me. I have been there hundreds of times and I was just always so focused on getting to her grave, talking to her, saying my prayer and moving on to the next task of the day. First of all, the thought of that is just sad to me now, but second, I just never noticed all the beautiful flowers. I guess that was a good example.
Next, I learned that I should sit and enjoy my coffee. This was one of the top things that stood out to me while on my trip. That girl at the winery said something like, why get coffee if you aren’t going to sit and enjoy it? Although she was speaking English, this was like a foreign language to me. I have to say, I have not really enforced this in my coffee grabbing trips. However, there have been a few coffee visits from someone special since I returned that have reiterated the point that she made while I was sitting in that winery in Chianti. Happy interactions in the morning make me chipper! This is one of the things I missed when I moved back to Pennsylvania from Alabama. I had to train myself to stop talking to people and saying, “good morning,” when I went into the store. In Alabama, everyone talked to me, everyone was pleasant and everyone was smiling. The East Coast is very different. Everyone is in a rush, most are looking down at their phones and if you try to talk to people, they look at you like you are crazy. Anyway, I have this hope that the smile will be contagious and people will be more happy and encouraging to strangers in the morning. I’ve seen crazier things happen!
Last, I learned to listen when the birds are chirping. This could fall into the concept of stopping to smell the roses too. It is a little thing that most times we overlook and ignore. Last week, I had the hardest time getting back to Pennsylvania’s time zone so I was waking up around 3:00am and starting my day. So, one morning, I was sitting at my dining room table trying to get ahead of the day’s work and at some point, the birds started chirping. I literally stopped working, closed the computer, grabbed my coffee and went and sat next to the door and just listened for about 20 minutes. I’ve never actually appreciated the birds chirping before Italy. While doing that radio interview, they said that a study was done that showed that the sound of birds chirping makes people happy. Well, yeah, it does!
Life after Italy has been so interesting. It is almost like my body came back but my brain is still in Italy mode. I think that is a good thing but we have a joke lately about my head being in the clouds. I think I like it. There is no anxiety and stress, there is no lingering frustration, there is just life… and it goes on. So, things that would normally bother me, just don’t. That is not to say I have not run into challenges, I will always have challenges. I just have a new perspective. I just go with it. We only have one life and we are meant to live it and love it! I plan on doing just that.