Reality Bites

Yesterday, my entire world shifted as the ground fell from beneath my feet. Suddenly the reality of my decision to move overseas was all too real. Pride would not let me admit that I was petrified. Tears filled my eyes as I sudden saw my friends as irreplaceable. Even more shocking is what can only be described as a moment of insanity; I collapsed into a blubbering mess at the thought of leaving my biologically family behind.  In the moment they seemed for a lack of a better word “perfect”. The fact that for that brief moment I actually consider my overly dramatic family; who can be a source of annoyance to the point that I have questioned my belief in a  higher power, as the most perfect family in the world was trippy. This feeling of familial love was enough for me to realize that my life is changing for real.

Sure growing up I idolized Hemingway. I longed to sit al fresco at a cafe in some foreign country observing life will sipping wine. Naturally, this Brooklyn girl figured that if I could survive a ride on the NYC subway at night how dangerous can any country be? Now on the heel of my next big adventure a nocturnal subway ride seems like a cake walk compared to walking the streets of Europe. At least I know the language of Brooklyn a simple F-word followed by a “one figure salute” is the equivalent of saying, “I love you too buddy!”

How do you curse in Italian? I’m serious. What’s the equivalent of the F-word in Italian? Like most Americans I think everything sounds slightly sexy when said in a foreign language.

I know exactly one person in Italy and well he’s a pain in the ass. So, my current status at the moment is that once I reach Italy I will be homeless, lonely and scared but I am a New Yorker to the heart and that has to count for something.

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Still Looking

This week has been a challenge one for me one of my weaknesses is I cannot hide my annoyance when I truly do not like someone.  My face says all I am feel which can be a problem whblogjan2015en the person is standing in front of you.  I am not averse to confrontation but I do not in point of fact seek it out.  I entered into an agreement which when time came to pay the pre-agreed upon the bill the other party reneged on the agreement.

What makes this story a little interesting is once the person informed me he would no longer pay I just said, “fine”.  The other person starts to freak out.  He wanted to explain why. I said unnecessary I am good. He still continued to freak out wanting me to understand his reason I explained I need not understand his reasons because the outcome is still the same.

As I reflected on the situation more I realized the need for his explanation had zero to do with his regret for reneging on our agreement.  Instead he wanted to ease his sense of guilt.  Often when anyone myself included does something wrong we often try to explain why we did what we did to fulfill our own desire alleviate our own guilt rather than focus on the other person how they may feel.  Annoyed as I was at the broken agreement he refused to understand I was unwilling to engage in a discussion.  My unwillingness stemmed for the reality the money for the bill must come from me and thus there was no need for any further conversation.

The time taken to have regret or anger could be better focused on my goals, solutions, happiness or many other things.  From this point on I hope this approach can be applied to all areas of my life.  As for the other guy I guess he is still looking.

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Permanent Vacation

Permanent vacationThe first step is always the hardest.  First steps come with fear and trepidation.  We often psych ourselves out with horrific images of all the things that can go wrong. The concept of learning through trial and error seems antiquated in these times of instant gratification.  At this moment I am building what  I hope is a foundation for the future.

Spending less income, hitting the gym, working hard and getting more rest is fine if I isolate myself.  When I see my friend running about doing the exact opposite of myself I have to admit to feeling doubt.  In theory I appreciate the notion of having one’s cake and eating it too.  At the same time I equally understand that no one is promised tomorrow. All anyone ever has is right now.  There are times when I feel trapped between a rock and a hard place.

Having fun now and enjoying myself is always an entertaining option.  The reality is that life is unpredictable so you have to have a nest egg and a long term outlook.  Life as an expat is not easy.  It is easy to feel like you are living in a bubble insulated from the rest of the world.  One foot in your home country and another in the country you are living in. The reality is that  legally and financially you find yourself serving two master with competing agendas.

This life can seem intimidating for some but it a life I wouldn’t change for anything. I only wish I could connect with more people with a long view of things rather those who live as if on a permanent vacation.

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Forget About Tomorrow

New_year_Eve_in_FlorenceForget about tomorrow is a life skill I am trying to adopt. It is easy to push forward moving from day to day never taking a moment stay in the present.  My life often resembles a non stop series of hits and runs.  You wake up, you go to work then you return home.  One day blends into the next until the days become a year and the cycle repeats. I took a moment reflect this New Years Eve, I realized this pattern has caused me to miss out on the moments that make life truly interesting.

When I think about my days I often struggle to remember the moments that define who we are as individuals.   The funny thing is that there is comfort in always looking at tomorrow.  If the present is unpleasant then placing my focus on tomorrow means I can ignore all that is happening around me in that moment.

This holiday was interesting time where turning off my daily alarms meant my day had less structure.  I took time to just be in the moment.  If I were to say that it was the most enlightening experience of my life I would be a liar.  I am not sure if during running for miles or taking a shower where I realized that I live each day as if waiting for the other shoe to drop.  Walking home from the gym my shoulder are hunched up to my ears (looking for a fight I guess).  Chopping onions to test a new recipe for my blog gastronomer.co my jaw hurts from clenching my teeth (life imitating art too many action movies).  I actually had to force myself to binge watch Netflix.

The most sensible course of action is to take baby steps. Very small baby steps. I will take my victories where I can get it. Mostly I am just trying to figure things out as I go along.  The only thing that I am certain of is that the answer is somewhere between living in the now and forgetting about tomorrow.

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Reflections

Boun Natale

Boun Natale

Today there is only seven more days till the end of the year.  These last seven days are going to be a ones of self reflection.  This has been a tough year in the respect that I have to make changes that including downsizing my apartment increasing my work hours to insane levels.  This may sound like a complaint but it really is not.  Problems that have solutions that you are able to act upon is a privilege.  The stress and the exhaustion has not left me much time for thinking just to react to my continuously changing landscape.

As Christmas approached so has the uneasiness in general.  Nothing would abate the uneasiness until the moment I had the beginnings of self reflection.  It was not my intention to reflect in fact I had zero desire to anything more than catch up on sleep. But the heart wants what the heart wants and my heart wants a conversation with itself.

The path that my life is on is one that has consequences. All consequences are not dire in nature but it can and often comes with self sacrifice.    Every day is a discovery of something new about myself even if the information is old like my anger regarding old wounds.  My goal is to release that anger so that I can move forward free from the burden that can at times feel like an albatross around my neck.

These moments of self reflection bear the fruit of what I hope will be personal growth. My hopes is that I will learn how to be a better version of myself.  The start of which is learning to listen to myself more without blindly charging ahead assuming that I can handle all.  Letting go of my anger is necessary but is something that I have held onto for a long time.  Anger has become a friend that I have come to rely on to drive me through no matter how insurmountable the challenge.  Anger also blinds me to who I truly am as a person while stunting the development of my other skills and talents.

Anger can no longer be my crutch.  It is time to find a new path. A path is guided by something more substantive than limited emotions of past regrets, frustrations or disappointments.  Speaking on this matter is easy it is the action that will be hard.

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Working The Plan

I have been MIA for a few weeks.  Many things have happened since the last time I wrote. My old apartment was sold so I had to make a switch.  I started with a new school which means a new boss which came with new drama.  Working 40 hours a week turned into 50 hours per week.  The reason for all the changes is that I made a commitment to reach certain goals by June 2015.

In theory this all sounds great till reality bites you in the butt.  The long hours along with the fact that my new apartment can fit into the bedroom of old apartment is not the end of the world but change is jarring. Staying the course at times seems like an impossible task. Even as I type this missive I struggle with the weight of my choices.

The words of my grad school professor ring in my ear that “life is not meant for happiness”.  Reflection of what my life was like at that time would have had an arrogant version of myself believing that I had the world all figured out.  The crazy part of the journey now is constant uncertainty.  Each day I start with a laundry list of ‘To Do’s’ at the end of the day the list often grows longer instead shorter.

A friend recently said that part of my problem is that I keep trying to manage my life as if I were still living in the States.  True self evaluation suggest that she is 100% correct.  I live in Italy not the US and my reactions and management of my life should reflect this new reality.  Stubbornness aside change in my approach is needed if I wish to successfully see my plans come to fruition. Change can be a good thing. Viva Italia.

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My Brothers Keeper

I live in one of the most beautiful cities in the world.  My parents worked hard so that I would receive a quality education.  As an expat that commitment made by parents has paid off with dividends.  I am fortunate to have a stable employment but there are times when food security is an issue. Food security is the ability of having reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food.  For me it’s a matter of chicken or steak. More expensive or less expensive food.  Around me are people for whom the decision is more severe meaning to eat or not eat.  We are all faced with growing concern over food sustainability.  At the rate that we are over harvesting and wasting food the reality is that we are creating a problem not just for the future but here and now.

Based on a report by the Natural resource Defense Council (NRDG) transporting  food from the farm to the table uses 10 percent of the total U.S. energy budget, 50 percent of U.S. (www.nrdc.org/food/files/wasted-food-ip.pdf) land, and swallows 80 percent of all freshwater consumed in the United States. However, shockingly 40 percent of food in the United States today goes uneaten.  Americans are throwing out the equivalent of $165 billion each year, but also that the uneaten food ends up rotting in landfills as the single largest component of U.S. municipal solid.  In the UK  households waste 6.7 million tonnes of food every year, around one third of the 21.7 million tons are purchase for the home.  The type of avoidable food we waste in the largest quantity is potato; 359,000 tons of potato goes uneaten every year, including 177,400 tonnes of potatoes thrown away whole and untouched (49%). Other commonly wasted types of food are slices of bread (328,000 tons a year), apples (190,000 tons including 178,800 tons thrown away whole and untouched), and meat and fish (161,000 tons). (www.ifr.ac.uk/waste/Reports/WRAP%20The%20Food%20We%20Waste.pdf)

The reason for my urgency is that I have teamed up with 20 other people representing seven different countries to raise $2500 USD by September 16th, which will serve as seed money to start addressing these issues.  Through Copenhagen School of Business we are seeking to create a social venture to make positive changes on a global scale.  We ask that anyone with a shared interest please donate $5 dollars at www.betternow.org/dk/en/sustainablefood4all.  If you cannot donate then please help us spread the word by reblogging this post to help raise awareness.  Maybe even become active yourself by helping to reduce food waste.  If you think you cannot make a difference please watch the video below and ask yourself how do you want to be remembered.  Thank you.

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Terrible Two’s

I am on the express train heading home to Firenze.  It is a journey that I will make many times during this school year.  In fact I just came from interviewing with a new school.  You promptly learn that one source of income is not enough to follow your dream you need a backup plan to survive.  My mother and father where immigrants to America, each had two or three jobs to achieve their version of the American dream.  Now that I am the immigrant I expect to do no less than they did, conceivably it because I am the child of immigrants that I view my journey in a different way from my fellow expats.  The idea of a full time job being 20-25 hours per week just doesn’t cut it, especially when the cost of living doesn’t support the economics of the situation.

 

Travel time

Travel time

I work with two different schools always.  On average I work 35-45 hours per week.  I can and have put in 10 hours days with no break.  This is not about martyrdom instead it is about personal expectations.  If I want a house, car, vacation then I must provide the means to make these things a reality.  The emphasis is not on acquiring possessions but creating a full life as define by one person, ‘me’.  Setting goals are the things we often do because we feel that the hard work will lead us to a place of fulfillment.  The second my foot touched Italian soil my goal was and still is to accumulate to my new home and become apart of the country.

Nonetheless my slow learning curve for becoming fluent in Italian is a small part of my commitment to success. If I am going to live here I need to learn to speak the language well. The same is true for building the foundations like a home and other adult stuff.  I read a blog today that speak of reverse culture shock.  My mother asked me again if I was sure I wanted to live here Italy.  There are days when I long for things that are culturally familiar as well as smells, taste and the unique energy of New York.  In moments of pure honesty I having lived outside of NYC for so long it no longer pulls on my heart strings as it once did.  The noise of the city that never sleeps is too loud.  The people are a bit rough.  The food is still great but I long for something different.

Walking home

Walking home

When thinking of home to my little apartment in the tourist packed center on a busy street.  The thought of my humble  home makes me smile.  The everyday struggle to build a life stokes my competitive fire. To venture forth seeking out a new piece to the puzzle of my new life is my reason for living. Viva Firenze!

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