These days I'm…
Planning :: A girls’ trip to Paris with my mother/sister-in-law and a week in Tuscany over Easter break.
Listening :: To birds chirping in the mornings along with Haim, St. Paul & the Broken Bones and a variety of podcasts.
Moving :: Thanks to yoga, Barre 3 and a crazy loop from our town, up a hill ( small mountain) to the next town and back.
Dreaming :: Of a vacation somewhere tropical, just Jeff and I and knowing that I need to be dreaming of southern Italy, Croatia and the UK (with kids).
Thinking :: About summer plans and our last year in Italy.
Watching :: Scandal and House of Cards. I’m no longer shocked by any news I hear out of DC.
Enjoying :: Each of the kids’ right as they are at 10, 8 and 7. (Though I could do without some of the sass.)
Noticing :: How easy it is to get used to the sunshine and how much I miss it when it goes away. I think Colorado spoiled me and moving back to the Pacific NW may be a tougher transition than I think.
Pondering :: Love, justice, why people focus on “the minors” and grace.
Loving :: That all three of my babes are downstairs making birthday "surprises" for me.
Feeling :: blessed, grateful, loved.
So, there went October. Here's the thing about living in Italy. We're actually living in Italy. That means that work demands (or in my case, volunteerism) get crazy. Soccer practice and games take place. Friends throw parties and we have a tire blow on our way to Austria for the day. (That was today's dose of real life.)
The fact is, we've been in survival mode for the past two weeks. Life has been crazy busy and I've been working hard to stay off the computer when the kids are home.
Here I am.
October came and went along with my 31 days…and I'm ok with that. Even though it didn't all get put in writing or caught through the lens. We lived out each day.
Sometimes barely squeeking by but that's life. In Italy or in Seattle.
Now we start stepping toward the holidays. For November and December don't just mean Thanksgiving and Christmas but several big birthdays (10, 60 and 70!) with a few others thrown in, a visit from dear friends, travel, a few additional projects all along with the usual merriment.
It will be good but it will be full and I want to choose each step carefully.
We're enjoying a low-key Sunday here in Northern Italy. After a late breakfast we jumped on our bikes for a ride through the country. Just as the we turned onto the farm road, the church bells rang out.
There are many aspects of our life that are exactly the same
as they were when we lived in the states.
We have the same furniture, I cook mainly the same things, our habits
are essentially as they were two years ago.
The one thing that is sure to remind me that we are in fact living
in Italy is the sound of the church bells.
While the ringing of the church bells is traditionally done
as a call to prayer, we also view it as a very practical way to know what time
I don’t notice them each time they ring, nor are we home all
the time. But we almost always hear the first bells of the morning ring
at 7:00 am. Time to get up and start
your day. (My personal rule for the
weekends is that I don’t get out of bed until I’ve heard the bells.)
Typically I hear them around noon. Yes, this is a reminder to pray but I also
often think of it as a way to remind the community to wrap up what you are
doing and prepare for lunch.
The final bells we hear are around 7:00 (time for dinner!) and 9:00 which
signals the end of the day.
I love the tradition and the rhythm.
There are some days when the bells ring at unusual times. Today was one. When I heard the bells ring at 2:45 I knew
that there must be a funeral taking place in town. And just as I sat to write, the bells rang
again signaling the end of the mass and the beginning of the procession to the cemetery.
While the gentle nudges to shift focus during the day are
nice, I think learning more about the specific types of prayer, Praying the
Hours or Liturgy of the Hours, would be really interesting. It seems like it would be an amazing practice
I know it's sounds a bit morbid but I love the traditions Italians have surrounding death.
The stopping and honoring.
The candles in cemetaries.
Beauty in ashes, indeed.
Our experience living overseas is a bit different from most expats who pack up and move abroad. For those families, once they board that plane and leave the US, their life shifts to that of the country they are moving to. Because Jeff is Active Duty Air Force there are parts of our life that will always be tied to the "American Life" simply because he puts on his uniform every day and drives to base.
Clearly, there is nothing wrong with having an American influence. We are proud of Jeff's service and our home country but we also know there is no one "right" way to live.
No one best country.
Many people assigned to our base go the entire three years (or so) of their assignment without shopping on the economy or eating in a restaurant where only Italian is spoken. I respect that choice but if I'm honest, I think it's sad because there is just so much out there to experience.
So, for our family, our mindset has been that if we are going to live here for four years, we want to truly live here.
Sure, we shop on base for some things (peanut butter and oatmeal are hard to come by in Italy) but we also go to our local corner store almost daily for fresh bread, cheese and milk. It's great that we're able to take advantage of our town's library (awesome for the kids to practice their Italian reading) but I'm so thankful for the library on base where I can borrow many of those books on my every growing to-read list. Similarly, being able to gather with friends for burgers and fireworks on the 4th of July is great when you're far from "home" but you can bet we're just as likely to hit the festival in the town down the road.
And so, we live in middle.
The collision, really, of two worlds.
The result is more than I could imagine.
The best of both.
This Saturday marks the second anniversary of our arrival in Italy. That simply blows my mind. Each day, every adventure and every low point we've experienced has just gone by so quickly.
For those that may not know, we're a military family assigned to Northern Italy on a four year tour. While this would seem like a dream to most, I initially resisted embracing this opportunity with all that was in me. Our previous assignment was one that we should have been able to stay at through retirement and we loved where we were. We embraced our community and lifestyle. When that call came (the one that we had debated working towards getting but never jumped on) I was strong but deep down so sad. All of our plans were out the window with four months notice.
(And there is so much in between.)
Two years later I've fully adjusted to and embraced this gift we've been given. It truly is the one that we'd gotten too comfortable to dive in towards. My hope over the next 31 days is to share tiny pieces of the country that has changed my perception of life.
La bella vita.
31 Days Living in Italy
2. Two Worlds Collide
3. Slow Living
4. On Mourning
5-8. Sick Days!
9. On Laundry
10. Ring the Bells