When I sat down to write my newsletter this week, I struggled to find the topic. Having come back from Italy, I knew I wanted to tell you about my trip. Talking about the rich history, beautiful landscape, breathtaking art, phenomenal food, and the delectable coffee, would end up the length of a novella. And truth be told, you could open a book and read about much of those items from anyone. But I’m a writer and a seeker, and I search the layers for motivations. The why. So I didn’t want to talk about the visuals. I wanted to talk about what I really took away from this wonderful trip. And that was the importance of gaining a different perspective.

I won’t lie, the prospect of leaving my home to travel across the world, daunted me. But having returned, I truly believe everyone should make that journey. Maybe you don’t have to get on a plane and travel 15 hours one direction. It may be to another state. Or another town that doesn’t look anything like where you live now (although I will encourage that it be an entirely different country). The important aspect is to get out of your comfort zone and see the world through another's eyes. Gain a different perspective. Appreciate the diversity. Seek for those similarities that unite us—not the differences that divide us.

Italy was full of those similarities. As a whole, they are a warm and generous people. They don’t like their government much, believe it’s corrupt, and wonder where their taxes go. They also have a major issue with immigrants coming in from their beaches and are looking to curtail that. Sound familiar? But they also savor the preciousness and fruits of life. I may never enjoy a better cup of coffee than those from Italy. For them, it is an art form. They believe in family and making time to be with them.  They believe in taking a couple of hours in the middle of the day to enjoy a good meal and connecting with friends. Explains why lunch and dinner can be three and four course meals. Connecting is important. Instead of bringing you the bill to move through the tables at a restaurant, you have to ask the waiter for that bill when you’re ready. They don’t want you to rush.

I also learned how I take communication for granted. I won’t ever look at another person struggling with my language the same. While I’ve never been an impatient person on this subject, I will strive a bit more to find a way to connect. I now know what it feels like not to be understood.

I think that’s what traveling abroad does for you. It allows you to look at life through another window besides your own. Appreciate what you have, but come away with a more colorful view of what’s beyond your own four walls. Makes one more compassionate and, for me, has added to my self-confidence to move outside my box. I don’t believe I’ll ever have the same anxiety about leaving the U.S. as I did before this trip.

Finally, as I sift through my vacation pictures, I’m reminded that to seek joy is as important as any other task we face in a day. Probably the most important. Without it, the world is a million shades of gray, and I’d much rather let the light in. Wouldn’t you?

My question: Where could you plan to go that would give your world view an entirely different perspective? And what’s stopping you?


P.S. Here are just a few of my favorite moments in Italy. Ciao.