You Only Live Once
Originally posted Feb 28 2020
I am realizing that a loved one might not be here much longer. My grandma, Nana, has been a part of my life for my 38 years on earth. I am beyond lucky to have her still with me. She has been my rock through hard times. She has energetically sent bad vibes to people who have wronged me. Most importantly she is my link to my favorite place on earth, Italy.
Nana was born in a small town called Farneta in the region of Emilia Romagna. Born before World War II, she had a hard upbringing. Her idea of Italy is completely different than mine. She grew up in a world where war was in her backyard, famine, and uncertainty. She never experienced the Italy I know and love. I remember her first response when I told her I was going to study abroad in Florence in 2002.
“Why would you want to go there?”
All I could respond with was “because I want to learn more about my heritage.”
She lit up when I said that.
Since then, my cousin has married an Italian from outside of Verona. My husband came into my life, a man born in my second home, Florence. I have lived in my beloved Firenze for 4.5 years as a legal resident.
Thanks to the path my Nana took from Farneta to London to America. My mother was born in a small town outside of London called Ledbury after my American grandfather swept my Nana off her feet.
I experienced life outside of my hometown, outside of Nana’s Italy, outside of the norm. I took the leap of faith and let the net appear for me to live my already extraordinary life.
You only live once, I always say to people. There is no reason to second guess your ideas, your path or even if you change your path for the better. Because we never know when our time is up. I do not want to be one of those people at the end of their life that says “I wish I started that Retreat business in Italy”.
Life is short and it is important to live it to the fullest.
Drink the wine, eat the cake, take that trip, explore that culture, spend the money.
Leap and the net will appear. It always does. I am a prime example of that saying. The net always appeared for me.
I took the leap in 2005 when I quit my 9-5 job and spent the summer in Florence learning Italian. I took the leap in 2007 when I became a nanny for an Italian family. I took the leap and signed up for a travel writing workshop in Rome with my dear friend Amanda Castleman in 2008. I took the leap when I decided to apply for British citizenship and move my life to Florence in 2009.
In Florence, I struggled, I worked paycheck to paycheck, I rode my bike everywhere, I knew all the secret side streets of Florence (to this day I can walk them in my head). I ran out of money. I couldn’t pay rent at a certain point. I was robbed. I was heartbroken. I got into bike accidents.
I fell. But I got up again. Every time. I brushed off the dirt from the cobblestones and pressed on.
I do not regret one experience, one heartbreak, one job, one mean Italian who told me I didn’t speak right, one decision, one credit card purchase. Because they all led me to this point. The point in my life where I feel like a whole person. I lived where I wanted, ate what I wanted and always chose what was right for me. On my terms.
People still ask me to this day, “why did you leave Italy?”
My boring answer is “the economy”. My actual answer is “I haven’t left yet.”
A better answer now is, I needed to come home to fully develop my dream of “never leaving Italy”.
That brings us to the present moment. I am incredibly excited to start this next chapter of my life. Living my dream of showing and teaching people about self-love and self-worth, about a country, and a city that is my real home in my heart.
You only live once, remember that. Use all the hours, minutes, seconds in your day to live your best life.
What would you start working on right now to live more fully?
Love & Light,