Friday, August 6, 2010

Bigs and Littles

A few years ago I read an article about someone's involvement with the Big Brother Big Sister organization, and it occurred to me that being a role model to a child in my community was something that was very doable at my stage in life.  I'd like to say the article was about Andy Baldwin, aka the Best Bachelor Ever, and his involvement with the organization, but research has turned up no such connections, so the person in the article will have to remain unknown.  Either way, I decided then that I wanted to be a Big Sister to someone in my community.  It seems like we all so often want to help others, and the easiest/fastest/most mass-friendly way is through the giving of tangibles, whether it be money or food or clothing donations.  We never really seem to devote the time or have the opportunity to develop true, genuine relationships with the ones we want to help, when so often that's exactly what they need most.  Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Central Florida seemed like the perfect opportunity to not only help someone else, but to develop a personal relationship, and to be challenged as well.

I filled out my application to be a "Big Sister" over 2 years ago, and was full of enthusiasm and excitement for the following weeks until an e-mail came explaining that there was really no need in my area, but that I would be contacted if anything became available.  Bummer.  My Big Sister high balloon had been deflated.  I still received e-mails about updates and events in the area, but they were all the general, non-profit organization, keep-you-up-to-date type mass e-mails, and nothing was written specifically to me.  Until today.  I had long given up hope, when lo and behold, in my inbox this morning was an e-mail from the BBBSCF saying they had a need for me!  I was so excited you would have thought this was the career of a lifetime just begging me to accept.  

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

This I Learned in Italy...

Traveling is 25% sightseeing, 25% exploring/getting lost, 25% experiencing and learning the culture of the area, and 25% building personal relationships with the people you meet.  And, as always, 100% living in the moment.
Family is the most important thing in the world, and should be the foundation of YOUR world.  Everything in Italy revolves around the family unit, and the relationships are of the utmost importance, as they should be.
Even if you’re traveling on a budget, take just one day to have a nice, sit-down, relaxing meal.  So much of culture is in the food, and so much relationship building and bonding is done over meals.
Fresh is best.  Since returning to the states, I can honestly and truly appreciate fresh, unprocessed foods.  My body went into a state of shock after the horrible things I fed it for the first few days of being home.  Now, it’s fresh/organic as much as possible, and I carry a lunch box with me everyday so I have healthy foods available.
Don’t hold yourself as high as you think others see you.  Nobody really cares how you’re dressed or what you look like.  Italians are not as self-conscious as us prudish Americans, and they’d rather wear what they like than worry about what others are thinking.  The important thing is to be yourself, and comfortable with who you are.  “To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself." Thich Nhat Hanh
Live simply.  Forget about all the things that you “need.”  It’s just stuff and you don’t need it.  Life is so much more pleasurable with the simplicities; Chatting outside with the neighbors, riding your bike to the store, cooking a home cooked meal, etc.  The pleasure from experiences and relationships exponentially outweighs the pleasure from acquiring new “things.”
Travel is all about discovering yourself and who you are.  Even if you think you’ve got yourself defined, discovering new people and places has a strange way of showing you just exactly who you are in this world, and where you stand.
Without being open to the above mentioned form of discovery, travel is nothing more than a picture taking excursion unless you have someone you love to share it with.
With THAT being said, Italy is not a good place to visit without the one you love.

Every day is an adventure.  What you make of it is up to you, but the adventure is always there.

I learned much MUCH more about myself and the beautiful country I was sharing with you every day.  There is too much to put in writing, but in sharing my stories each night, I discovered that I really truly enjoy writing and blogging.  I love being able to share what I've learned and experienced, and I didn't want to stop just because I've returned to the states.  So how do I keep a "Life in Italy" blog alive when I live in the United States?  I've decided to take what I've learned in Italy and apply it to the new format of "Every Day is an Adventure."  I will post about my Central Florida adventures, including info on things that really interest me, like health and nutrition, and I'll do my best to make it as interesting and enjoyable as reading about beautiful Italy.  Every day really is an adventure, whether you're in Italy, Timbuktu, or Florida, and I want to continue to share that passion and zest for life that I've acquired in Italy.  I understand that some of the things I write about may not be the most interesting things ever (I mean, seriously? Can you really top Venice?), but I hope that you'll continue to read and learn along with me.