How not to spend an hour in Florence.

You know how to make God laugh? Tell her/him your plans. This is one of the best scenes in Evan Almighty. Plus Morgan Freeman plays a very dapper God, don’t you agree?

Photo courtesy of https://www.imdb.com.

I love making and executing a well thought plan. It’s a little neurotic, but not quite to the point where I’m seeking meds (ask me next week though). When the trip I had been dreaming of for years changed with take-off in less than 2 weeks, I scrambled. Luckily, the major components fell into place, such as, where to sleep for example. But the rest? Ah, the rest was figured out on the fly.

Not my favorite way to operate.

I was completely out of my comfort zone. Not only was I in a foreign country, I didn’t speak the language, and I didn’t really have a plan. And the ones I kind of had, did not exactly work out.

There are so many stories of adventures, left turns, missed trains and the like. I’m not sure what value it would hold for you, my sweet reader, but I know what it holds for me.

Lots and lots of lessons about letting go.

Control is just an illusion anyway, like holding onto running water.

Some of the most beautiful moments of this trip were totally unplanned. Some of the most frustrating moments of this trip taught me the biggest lessons.

Missing the Uffizi Gallery was not something I planned at all. In fact I spent money so that I would NOT miss this. But here’s the story, which now is funny, but at the time was most assuredly not.

Photo courtesy of Trip Advisor

We left Riomaggiore a little later than expected. I naively thought that we could get to Florence in just a couple of hours. We had pre-purchased tickets to the Uffize online for a 3:45pm entrance. By the time we made our 4th transfer of the day, we knew it would be close.

If we could just get to Florence, check in to our hotel, dump our luggage, we might just make it. Also, it was unbelievably hot and we had our share of cars lacking air conditioning. A shower was calling, but would risk doing without one if necessary.

Lesson #1. Pay attention to the train schedules, stops and maps.

The train came to a stop, but we did not see any signs. So we waited patiently for the train to resume. People got off, and more got on. The cleaning crew actually passed through with a cute little vacuum. After 30 minutes of sitting still, we came to accept that we were going to miss the museum.

Then much to our horror, the train began moving. Backwards.

We were going back – away from the city center. You know, the stop where we were supposed to have gotten off. And could have, like 30 minutes ago.

We ended up traveling back, getting off, going back around on the next train, and kicking ourselves the entire way. Had we realized where we were, we probably could have made it.

Lesson #2. Give yourself plenty of time to arrive.

The entrance lines for these major attractions are excruciatingly long, and there were no other available times to purchase online. Uffizi, you’ll have to wait until next time.

Um, no. Just no.

There were several times where Lesson #2 came into play. We learned as we went along. And isn’t that the hope? Not to avoid failure entirely, but to learn, and then perhaps we won’t have to repeat it.

Stay tuned for more lessons from Italy. Thanks for reading!
Sherri

Advertisements

Not a contestant this year

The end of the year is typically a time for reflection of what is behind, coupled with anticipation of what is ahead. I’m faithful to this practice. Even if the “Publish” button isn’t clicked until days after January 1, it still counts.

While the list of personal accomplishments of 2018 is not short, the value of reflection is not in reveling in self-admiration. The value is in what I learned and how these experiences are shaping me. Honest evaluation shows me how to improve, which is the ultimate goal for me.

  1. I completed 36 credit hours of college this year. Two of the three semesters I landed on the Dean’s list. I learned that I can meet high performance levels when there are clear objectives before me.
  2. I served as a Sea Turtle Patrol volunteer once a week for 6 months. I made a great friend and thoroughly enjoyed the morning walks on the beach. And saving turtles. I learned that early morning commitments can be magical when you’re doing something you love.
  3. I ran an entire 5k without stopping once as part of the Wanderlust Mindful Triathlon. There was so much pride in setting this goal and meeting it. I learned that running is a mental game – along with just about everything else.
  4. I lost 25 pounds and dropped from a size 12 to a size 6. This happened mainly because turning 50 (oh yeah, I did that too!) was a number I could not change. I learned that I can apply the Serenity Prayer to everything.
  5. I entered into a romantic relationship (hey Prince Charming). While there have been a few bumps here and there, it has been a wonderful experience with the hope of more to come. I learned it’s okay to be vulnerable and I can still be myself while being a partner.
  6. I discovered that I have a green thumb, and am now the proud caretaker of 8 indoor plants as well as about a dozen outdoor plants. While there have been a couple of casualties along the way, overall it feels amazing to see green happy plants in my world. I learned that my past doesn’t define my future.

So…all this explains why I feel tired. And why binging on Netflix lately has felt so fabulous. I’ve spent more time on my couch in the past month than I have the previous 12 months combined.

While 2018 was big and I learned a lot, I missed out on more than couch time. There were fewer sunsets the beach, only a dozen-ish blog posts, and a handful of finished canvases. I know I cannot do everything. When I look back, it feels like I was in a contest for who could do the most things in a year. If there was such a thing, I should have at least gotten third place. Either way, I’m not repeating the frenzy of 2018.

My life and what I put in it is totally up to me. Next year is looking good, but different. It holds only a couple of big things, like graduating college and a trip to Europe. Beyond that, it’s more about what I will not be doing.

I am not raising my hand for any new hobbies or projects or volunteer opportunities. I am not making endless to-do lists. I am not saying yes to more things, even when they are good. I am not stressing myself out. I am not entering the contest this year.

How are you approaching your new year? Is your list ridiculously long? Are you content with where you are and what you’re doing? Change the things you can, friend, and let go of the rest.

Happy New Year!

Thanks for reading, until next time,
Sherri