You know, when we started this project in Italy, I was wracked with fear. Back then, we sold our condo in Germany, sold our second car, got rid of about half of our worldly possessions, and moved to a partially renovated four hundred year old farm house on a hill with a terrible dirt road during the rainiest December Italy had seen in ten years. But before we sold our condo, when we were "between lives" -- this one and that one, I could not see how we would ever, ever get to the point where a. we would be able to rent a room to anyone, b. would be able to convince anyone to come to stay with us and c. be able to make enough money to support ourselves. After all, the investment, at least for us, was monstrous. It would take everything we had just to get the place into reasonable shape. And we hadn't counted on the awful weather, which kept the moving trucks from making it up to our house, or the dampness in the house (new plaster isn't dry just because you can touch it -- stone and plaster can take months to really dry out) which meant heating and heating the place while the actual room temperature would never get above miserable. We hadn't counted on the chimney flues being blocked with centuries of resin and soot, and we had not counted on the mud and the fact that the telephone wouldn't function for weeks, or that the electricity would go out on a regular basis. If you had asked me in February of 2004 whether we would make it through the first year, I would have simply started to shake and would have gone back under the four down comforters piled on my bed. I had nothing left. Nothing but abject fear of the future.
Then one morning, in the shower, I had what was sort of a revelation (no, not that kind). As I was allowing the steaming hot water to loosen my joints, I thought to myself, OK. This project might just kill me. But if it kills me, then I want to a. have a good looking corpse and b. go down fighting. I started, in the shower that morning, to face the fear head on. So. If there were to be any guests at all, I better get busy.
So, for the next months, from February to August, we plastered, grouted, painted, spackled, and invested in exterior stone work and the pool. And the first guests came in September, and although nothing was really finished, they seemed to like it.
And so it continued, slowly, baby steps, and it continues today. I have been walking away from my fear for four years now and counting. Walking towards love. Because on the other end of the spectrum from fear is love. It's that simple.
And love is the food on which projects like this thrive.
In 2008, several in my circle became seriously ill. There is nothing like illness to bring on fear. But something strange is starting to happen to me.
When I took up the collection to get my friend's cats back to the states because she had been living in Italy but would be treated for cancer in the states, I was the recipient of a watershed of not only donations of money and time, but of love. People wanted to do the right thing to help this person. The motivation was pure. And we got something very concrete done, something which was very important for my friend. So many contributed, my mother helped, and Becky and Michele went and got the cats, and Kim and Marian brought the cats from the airport back to their mom. A massive group effort, fueled by love.
And now, people like my friends in the blogosphere have opened me up to a new kind of energy, an energy connected with giving. People like Michelle Fabio. Like Jenn from the Leftover Queen. Like Sara from Ms. Adventures in Italy. Like Jerry with his O menu. They are showing me that if we connect together, then love grows exponentially. And there are tangeable results.
I am now working on an art project to support research for the fight against Ovarian Cancer. I am propelled by the love which I sense all around me. I will be posting more about this in upcoming days.
And I have noticed, with all of the giving, I fell less scared. I feel more boundless in my ability to give generously and lovingly. I can feel love more now, from guests who bring their worlds into mine, from neighbors who bring me the last of the garden bounty, from my husband, from my dog.
Love expands. Fear contracts. There is a time to give, and a time to take. Be aware of where you are in life, and what you have, and what you need. If it is your time to give, give knowing that the love will come back to you again and again. If it is your time to take, take knowing that it is energy you are receiving, energy which will make you strong so that one day, you will also be able to give again.