I travel…a lot. But, I hardly ever go on a vacation. Nope, this type A travels on business or in an effort to take care of family or friends. But to just recreate? To relax, reevaluate, and re-commit? I’d rather lose a limb. I am the poster child for the if-you’re-not-moving-forward-they’re-gaining-on-you theory of life. If you want something done yesterday, I’m your gal. I am goaded through life by the reality that, although I work hard, there is always more I could be doing.
But that was before Italy. <sigh>
Actually, I started the trip in Prague, one of Europe’s most beautiful cities. All dressed up for Christmas, this hidden gem was straight out of a fairy tale—a resilient, boisterous city with a horrific history. At the crossroads of Eastern Europe, oppression and war have been ubiquitous in Prague. Heck, this is the place that developed the quaint little ritual of throwing people out of windows to kill them.
I arrived with no expectations and was overwhelmed by the sheer optimism in this country with a population no larger than the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. Unburdened from the yoke of Communism, capitalism and a strong sense of pride run free in the Czech Republic. This is the country that talked its way into membership in the EU, signed the papers saying they would adopt the Euro, then promptly ignored that trifling little agreement, sticking resolutely to their own currency. Gotta love it. And I do.
On our last night there, we had the privilege of breaking bread with a prominent local businessman. He had lost a third of his family to the Nazis, then another third to the Communists. Needless to say, he was motivated to help his country chart its own course from this point forward.
HERE’S WHAT I LEARNED FROM PRAGUE:
1. Bend but don’t let life break you.
2. Rebound with a vengeance.
3. Keep believing.
4. Work hard.
5. Reevaluate, reassess, but NEVER give up.
Okay—this gal was good with that.
Next stop, Italy.
To be honest, I’m not sure two countries could be more different. Italy is light and passion, history and pleasure, food and wine… and joy. You’d think this workaholic would’ve been more attached to Prague. But, if the years have taught me anything it’s this: just when you think you’ve got it figured out, life will toss a monkey wrench into the mix just to see what you will do.
What an amazing city. Layers upon layers of history, passion, art, perseverance…and pleasure. Time is dedicated each day to enjoying food and wine and the company of friends. If the work didn’t get done today? The Italians purse their lips while contemplating this great disaster for a moment, then reach for a bottle of wine, pour you a glass and encourage you to relax. There’s always tomorrow. Nobody seems to care overmuch. And now I fully understand the saying, Rome wasn’t built in a day.
HERE’S WHAT I LEARNED FROM ITALY
- Value where you came from.
- Appreciate where you are.
- Love those who’ve stuck with you through the journey.
- Step off the treadmill to savor life in all its glory.
- You have a head, a heart and a stomach—all three must be fed.
- Live with passion and joy.
There’s this great superstition regarding the Trevi Fountains—my personal spiritual place. If you turn your back to the waters, put a coin in your right hand, and, while tossing it over your left shoulder you make a wish, your wish will come true and, most important, Rome will call you back and you will return.
I’ll be back. But, in the interim, I will try to live a more present life.
Where do you take restorative time? Why?