This picture is the last winter photo of the season, taken during a hike in my home town of Milford, PA while here for a book signing event.
I love doing my work. I often find myself surrounded by the most interesting, multi-faceted people, and because flow happens when we least resist it, doors open. Nothing happens unintentionally. It's how we step forward, heart first, into our work, that sets the tone of what happens next.
This doesn't mean it's always easy. There's a skill to not resisting and moving forward at the same time.
Often, we want to move forward out of a desire to control the outcome. Which almost always means resisting real events. Because events can never mirror what we hold in our imagination to be the way things should go. So walking forward and accepting, walking forward and surrendering, is an acquired skill. A muscle to develop.
Years ago, when we first moved to Italy, I had a very strong idea of how things would be, and how I'd "manage" events. I had a vision, a solid one. But problems started to occur almost the minute we landed on the ground. We were confronted with so many traumatic things, none of which were on our radar screen at all:
An unprecedented and unpredicted drop in the Dollar against the Euro meant a completely unplanned-for evaporation of our working capital in the first two years.
We grossly underestimated the cost of renovation. We had bad advice from dishonest people. And we were just naive enough to believe them for a little too long.
We didn't have the proper equipment. We lacked, and still lack, a 4x4 or pick-up truck.
We had no idea what it meant to have a house carved into a mountainside, how water runs down, how it effects foundations and structures, how it finds a way into everything when you don't want it to.
We didn't know how hard it would be to clear woodland. We lost over 30 trees in our first snowfall nine years back and didn't either own or know how to use a chain saw.
Every job that we thought should have taken a week took a month, and the tougher jobs took years. I, in particular, worried endlessly about money, our health, the future, and what we had gotten ourselves into.
In short, we moved forward every single day. But I personally put up so much resistance, every moment comparing the way I thought things "should be" with the vastly different reality that I ended up drained, injured and sick. For several years.
Now juxtapose that against the fact that within a very short time, we had managed to open what is a successful B&B and all the people who came to us just loved it, despite the fact that it wasn't perfect or even close. Everyone could see the blood, sweat and tears. But the only one who could not really enjoy a single second of it?
I couldn't see how taking on this seemingly impossible project under difficult circumstances has forced me to grown in ways I had never anticipated. I couldn't appreciate what my situation was teaching me. All I could feel was pain - intense pain - because my reality wasn't matching up to the thought of how I felt things should be.
One day, in a session with my coach Amy Oscar, she said to me, "You know, I've never had an inanimate object try to speak through me. But I think your house is trying to tell you something. It's trying to tell you that it's OK." My house would let me have my pain, let me beat against its stone walls as it had done for generations of women before me, and would let me stand up, get my bearings, and move forward. If I could only accept its lessons and not fight them continuously.
If I could only stop crying and start understanding what the real message was of why I had come to Italy in the first place.
If I could only stop resisting.
I am in America right now, where I gave my first book reading, where Amy and so many other of my loved ones were in the audience, and I realized something: This house in Italy - it gave me this moment. This moment filled with love and gratification, with so many beautiful people in my private and professional circle. This house helped me retouch with people from the past, and led me to shake hands with my future mentors and friends and partners. This house, this impossible, beautiful place on a hill in Italy turned out to be my salvation.
You don't need a house in Italy to stop resisting while continuing down your path. It is possible for you to move forward and to stop resisting at the same time. My dream upon coming to Italy is vastly different than how it's turned out. In many ways, it's a far deeper and more meaningful experience than I ever could have imagined. I know more now. I trust my instincts more than ever. I can sense people's pain and blocks and reach out to them and help them understand their own knots, and untie them. Before I came to Italy, I was so knotted up myself I could barely even stand up straight. But I didn't know that then. I needed to drop myself into a nearly impossible situation and find my way back to myself.
Your goals are your goals. They are good. But they are not necessarily going to be the result of your work.The result might look completely and totally different to what you have in mind at the outset. This is a good thing, my friends. A very good thing. Because if you move forward, listen, accept, surrender to what is, and keep moving forward despite the difficulties and the obstacles, you will end up with a level of personal success that is beyond what you are even capable of dreaming right now.
Remember who you are as you move forward.
Remember to listen carefully, not only to what people are telling you, but what your inner voice is trying desperately to communicate to you.
Remember to put love forward, including loving yourself, as you move along. Taking care of yourself as you move into new things will keep you well during what might be frighteningly uncertain times.
Remember that you can do many things, but you can't force anything. Take reality at its word, absorb its lessons, and adjust your plan.
In the end, you'll find yourself exactly where you are meant to be.
This past week in America has been an emotional roller coaster. I had the most amazing book signing with over 60 people in attendance. My cousin Lisa Rolleri of Domestic Diva made the Italian cookies, most of them gluten free, family & friends came from far and wide, and we raised money for the Pike County Public Library. It was a fantastic event, the first of what I hope will be many.
After that, my mother and I travelled to visit an ill family member. It was an emotional reunion, and one that brought many feelings of both love and sadness. On the heels of the book signing, I was reminded of the fragility of this time we have and how important it is to project love as often and as much as possible.
I look forward to returning to Italy to exorcise winter out of the house, and to prepare, once again, for visitors from far and wide.
I wish you all, my dearest readers, a wonderful week, whatever your goals, and wherever you are.