change: forget the parachute

I never knew how much a person could actually learn before I started taking risks. When I walked away from what people would refer to as a secure life, I took on more than I bargained for.

I learned to fly.

You do not earn your wings by thinking about change. But you do by effecting it.  At first, you fall like a stone.  It's like you've finally decided try sky diving, and then, woudn't you know it, it's your parachute that has the problem.  You see the ground underneath and it's coming at you fast.  It's just then that you remember to look up and not down.  As if looking up will save you.  It does.  You land safely.  And guess what?

You get to jump again.  And again. And again.

Pretty soon you learn how close you can get to the ground without the safety of the parachute.  You learn that we rely way too much on parachutes, until we think we can't be without one.  Relying on our parachutes has made us blind to something:  we do have wings.  Eventually we can, if we really want to, throw the parachutes away.

Our wonderful friend Franco, who we lost last year, taught us how to live in the country.

I learned who my friends are.

When you change everything, you do some pretty stupid things trying to save yourself without having your parachute.  Sometimes, you grab onto someone else a bit too tightly, threatening to bring her down with you.  I flailed for a good while, scared that I was going to drown in insecurity and fright from being so disoriented and from having given up everything society tells us we need to lead a normal life.  This pushed some friends away unintentionally with my worry.  But quite a few stuck with me, flooding my life with empathy and love.  Even if they didn't always understand exactly what I was going through, they always made sure I knew that they would be there for me.  They combed and cared for my wings instead of clipping them. I could not have done what I have done without them.

So many more of you deserve to have pictures here.

I learned to recognize kindness

I always new, subconsciously, that I liked being with people who are kind.  But after so much change and adjusting, kindness means so much more.  People who take time to be genuinely kind are the angels of the day and make flying much easier because they give you a soft place to land.  I have met so many kind people in Italy.  Both Italians and my wonderful guests, with whom I share my home and my stories.  When this phase of my life has past, it will be the kindness of people that I will remember, the kindness that comes from the thread of discovering common ground.

Amanda and Jason, our first honeymooners; the Niemands, who gave Maxi more than a couple of hugs.

I learned that I am just at the beginning and I have a lot to learn

I see, through my friends and loved ones, how much there is to learn and how little I actually know.  Before this change, that fact would have intimidated me.  Now it inspires me.  I know that people from very different walks of life can be my friends and mentors.  People like Michelle Fabio.  Barrie Davenport.  Katie Tallo.  Mary Jaksch. Courtney Carver. Reading their words and understanding their sentiments give me the strength to keep flying when I am feeling tired, confused, and scared.

Suzuki gifted musicians Gideon and Lucy wrote a full program and peformed a concert for us;  William was the little boy who got the most hugs in a weekend at Baur B&B

I know I am a better person for having effected change

I am more empathetic than I was before putting myself in the position of having to change.  I understand struggle more deeply.  I am more resilient.  And I am less driven by my own egotistical need to show what I know. Letting go of my ego gave me wind under my wings. I wasn't scared to make mistakes anymore.  I learned by trying, by doing.

I discovered something very interesting with having done this project over time.   My guests were never interested in seeing this place perfectly done (good thing, too, because it probably never will be). They were far more interested in the process we live through. I never would have believed that had it not actually happened to me.  They saw the flaws in the property as future projects.  They saw the incomplete construction as a chance to come back and observe the progress.  How magical is that?

The struggles never stop when you shoot for the stars. You don't really ever stop glancing back for the parachute. But one day, you do realize that you've gone an awful long time without pulling the emergency cord, and you are still somehow flying.