This year, mine was a Friday the 13th, full moon kinda day.
So, if I’m not powerful now, when can I be? I intend to harvest every ray of sunshine, every moonlit pathway, and every inner goddess power I have. Because birthdays are my New Years’ Days. You may want to consider your own special day to be the time you renew and restart, too.
What better time to look at the past year and reflect? What did I do this year that worked? What didn’t serve me or others so well? What do I want to do differently? What do I want to add?
This year, I’m adding Italy.
It’s been a lifelong dream to go there, for the art (I cried when I saw a Michelangelo sculpture in the Louve), the people, the food and the wine. I had planned on celebrating one of the “ending in zero” birthdays there, but that hasn’t happened. So here I go, on an odd year, fulfilling a dream.
I will be traveling alone, with all that entails. I get to make all the decisions and plans. On the downside, I have to make all the decisions and plans. And right now, I don’t have reservations for a place to stay for the last four nights. Which wouldn’t be a big deal were I in my twenties or even thirties and backpacking, checking into hostels.
Don’t hostels have age limits? As in, aren’t you too old?
I’m not too proud to stay in a hostel, although my sister did ask me, “Don’t hostels have age limits?” They don’t. However, I am pretty sure I might fall out of a top bunk getting up to pee in the middle of the night. Then there is the CPAP machine. Will there be a plug? Will the kids in the hostel dorm laugh? All things considered, I need at least a single room with a twin bed.
But there is a renegade part of me that doesn’t want to book those nights until I get to Florence and take some side trips. What if I commit and then want to stay somewhere else?
The grass is greener and the sea is bluer.
That’s kind of a theme of a large part of my life. There have been times I’ve been mistaken that the grass is greener on the other side. I feel sure Italy and it’s grass won’t disappoint, but I want to see all the shades of green before hunkering into a bunk. It definitely does look as if the sea is bluer at least in Cinque de Terre, even though a room there costs the same for three nights as my small apartment does for five nights in Florence.
So, there is money to consider. And stamina.
I make my living sitting face to face with clients, although I could do video sessions while overseas. But I’m not going to. I’m going to imagine I am not a psychotherapist, and will practice being more of a writer instead. Still, so far with Medium I am earning about enough for a really good mani-pedi a month. So, even though the money I am using for the trip is mostly money I saved for this express purpose (partly by using the app Qapital), there needs to be money to pay October’s rent when I return.
How far and how well I can walk to say, everywhere, is also a consideration. It is possible to hike to all five villages in Cinque de Terre, but I think I will be all walked out after the art and museums in Florence. So, I would like for my farthest walks in the villages to be to the beach and to the coffee/pastry shops in the mornings.
Lingua franca or Italian?
Then there is the exchange rate to figure out, and the fact that I speak fairly understandable Spanish, but only phrase book Italian. (I recommend the app DuoLingo to practice or learn a language.) English is the lingua franca of the world, but I love being surrounded by people speaking languages other than English. Since Spanish and Italian and English all came from the same Romance language roots, I do fairly well reading, and can pick up the basics fairly quickly. Besides, using DuoLingo and Rosetta Stone makes me use neurons I haven’t used in awhile, and that is good for my brain. Plus, maybe I’ll find romance using a romance language. Why not? It happens in all those movies of solo women in Italy.
Birthday reflections and resolutions.
While the Italy trip will be jump start on the next year, it takes more to answer the questions in the beginning of this article. However, Italy is a great metaphor for what has worked, what hasn’t, how I want to serve myself and others, what I want to change and what I want to add.
What’s worked is when I follow through on what makes me happy. What serves me and others is when I don’t wait for someone else to do what I want to do, go where I want to go, or be who I want to be. Certainly others are welcomed on my journey, but it still needs to be my journey.
Last year I added writing on Medium. This year I plan to contribute enough and write well enough to make this my actual “retirement plan.” I kind of forgot to make one in my Gulliver’s Travels of careers. I also will find more ways to reach more people as a psychotherapist. One person at a time is deeply rewarding on a personal and professional level, but reaching many, many more with the same amount of effort makes more sense. Italy will give me inspiration and motivation to find these avenues, because I will still be writing and reading on Medium while there, and you, my fellow writers and readers always inspire and motivate me.
If Diane Lane’s character in “Under The Tuscan Sun” can renew and restart, so can I.
It won’t be the first time I’ve done that, and it won’t be the first time I’ve done it in a foreign country. It will, however, be the first time in a country of my dreams.