Well, hello friends. I hope you have all had a wonderful holiday season with friends and family. Christmas has come and gone, but my beautifully lit tree still stands, proving us with warmth and cheer, reminding us that the holidays are not quite over (which I’m actually happy about). As I sit here and sip on my delicious cappuccino, and enjoy the peace and quiet of our home this morning now that my in-laws have left, I thought about how this year has literally flown by. We’re about to start a new year and a new chapter in our lives, which made me start to think about all that 2014 entailed.
Ciao 2014, You Were Grand!
It was quite a year! I moved to Italy last fall: yes, it’s a beautiful place with gorgeous cities and sites that I’m in love with. We’re just a short drive away from Lake Como, Lake Lugano and Lake Garda… and a day trip away from Cinque Terre, Venice and Florence. The Italian food is delicious (I’m emphasizing ‘Italian‘ because, well, it’s mostly just Italian and I miss San Francisco’s diverse cuisine), and I have new friends from different parts of the world. I have much to be thankful for, and many things to love about my new life in Milan.
I’m happy to be ending this year with a content and peaceful heart. However, I remember the fair share of lows I experienced earlier this year … adjusting to the new culture and an incredibly frustrating bureaucratic system, was tough, (maybe more so when you’re from North America or Northern Europe?) especially since every time I had lived abroad in the past it was for a relatively short, determined period of time, whereas in this case, it’s indefinite.
It’s the little things you wouldn’t normally think about on “holiday” that really start to get to you …
Wait five weeks for wifi at home to be up and running?
Pay bills at the post office after pulling a number and waiting in line for over an hour instead of online bill-pay?
I have my codice fiscal, passport, apartment contract, long-stay visa but still need a residency card for a bank account?
Almost everything is closed in the middle of the afternoon?
Nothing is open late except restaurants?
Wait three months for a doctor appointment?
No iced drinks or really hot lattes? Everything is lukewarm?
Nothing is 24-hour?
I can’t choose my own PIN number? I wait for it in the mail?
Pull a number to wait in line to pull another number to make an appointment?
I’m not ‘supposed’ to drink cappuccinos after 3pm?
Pay $2.50 per minute to call an airline customer service?
Take away food? Coffee?
I always thought I adapted to change well. But actually the reality of my need for ‘accepting the differences’ in this case rather than being angry or overly irritated really hit me toward the end of the summer – and that change of perspective has really helped me adjust as I’ve remembered we can choose to just BE happy.
I was (and still am) learning a new language, the ropes of marriage, and of course, I’m long flights away from friends and family on other continents – but the most difficult thing for me has probably been the career change (in terms of being “fulfilled”). Luckily, I have an encouraging husband who reminds me that this is a whole new life, a completely different path and direction. I can’t think of where I could be/should be, because that (i.e. comparison) is the thief of joy… and where I’m meant to be is right here, right now.
Adventures like these, changes like these: these are the things that make up life. And here we are, just days away from the start of a brand new year: 2015. There’s a passage that my dad would always share with us when we were younger (Ecclesiastes 3) about how there is a time and a season for everything:
It’s so true. We all have moments when life feels like it’s on cruise control, just smooth sailing and all highs, and then we have the tough times – but as I mentioned in previous posts (Embracing Life’s Seasonal Changes and The Moments In-between), they all come to an end at some point… we can think of the “seemingly bad” moments as times when our character is being strengthened and our patience is being increased … and before we know it, that thing that once caused so much pain is over. It’s the beautiful thing about this life.
So, here are some important things I learned this year:
1) Adjusting to changes takes time
2) Accepting the differences is key
3) Altering your perspective changes things
4) Deciding to “be happy” empowers you
5) Learning to be more patient … is hard 🙂
6) Realizing that comparison is the thief of joy is important
7) Letting go of (some) expectations is crucial
8) Finding contentment in the little things makes life more beautiful
9) Appreciating the beauty & positive things ‘now’ makes life more enjoyable
10) Loving life is fabulous!
I love that I can look back on 2014 and literally see the different stages unfold. Are we ready to enter 2015 thankful and excited to embrace all that it has to offer? We just never know where life will take us.
And welcome …
Feel free to share your 2014 highs, lows & general thoughts 🙂