There have been many days in my life that I have been unhappy; truly, deeply unhappy. There were a lot of these days in the last few years. As I talked about in a recent post, there were days I literally wanted to give up, feeling like I lost myself, lost my happiness, lost my soul. I think remembering those days, being able to remember the details, the feeling is why days now feel like such a blessing. We all go through things in our life. I’d say about 90% of the people in my life at this point have faced some significant type of trauma in their lives. The key is how we deal with it all, how we choose to move forward, find the lessons or purpose in it, find our purpose in life itself and most important, find ourselves.
Anyone who has been following this blog for a while knows all about my trauma. And if you have been following it all along or from earlier on (any time before April 2014), you know just how much I was struggling, just how consumed I was by it all. You also know how much my life has turned around. You know how I’ve come to find this incredible happiness and peace despite the trauma and despite my illness. You know that I am thankful for it all and appreciate my life and myself more than I ever have.
I especially appreciate this trip. I have been to this village 5 times now. I have always wanted to spend more than just 3-6 days here and really experience it without feeling rushed to “see everything” through the whole Cinque Terre. In the Spring, it became obvious to me that this was the time for it. Read about that here: The Universe has a plan.
So, here I am, in this beautiful medieval village on the sea. It feels like home. Every morning I get up, open the windows and look down on the street and up at the colorful buildings and am thankful for this gift. I walk down the street to get my coffee and now have many people who are familiar to exchange a “Ciao, Buongiorno” with. I get my coffee at one of two places, both where they recognize me. I visit the butcher and the store to buy fish/fruit/everyday essentials where they know me and even though there’s still a language barrier with some, I’m finding it easy to communicate with them.
In my time alone, hiking, sitting in the harbor or on the beach, on the train, or simply in my apartment, I have been thinking about how lucky I am. How lucky I am to be alive, to have had many great experiences, to have the family and friends I already have and to keep meeting so many amazing people. I’ve said before and I’ll say again. We meet every single person for a reason. I’ve had my share of people who were in my life to teach me lessons, but I have many more who were and are in my life to just simply make it even better. That already includes people I’ve met here.
There are jokes from people here and at home that I would move here. I have to admit, I have thought about it many times. It is tempting. Someday, maybe. For now, I’d settle for a few weeks every year. If I just learn Italian, I know I can do photo shoots and get business to come back. I’m definitely going to work on that idea. ;)
I realize now more than ever that experiences like this, seeing beautiful places, meeting new people from around the world, and being open to it all is a lot more important to me than most everything else. I found this quote the other day: You don’t get to choose how you’re going to die or when. You can only decide how you’re going to live.” This statement is true. We get this one life. We decide what we do when we’re here and we never now what can happen or when to take that away. I choose to LIVE and do the things that make me happy; truly, deeply happy. I had too many of those unhappy days to let myself do it any other way. Some people find their main joy in their family, their kids, their work. My family is amazing. They bring me joy and I love them. They are one of the main reasons I haven’t picked up and moved to Italy by now. I don’t have kids and I love my work but it’s not the most important thing to me. It brings me joy and taking pictures in conjunction with traveling is what brings me immense joy. So, the goal now is to figure out how to do just that.
Now, to my days here.
I went on a beautiful hike on Sunday. I was slightly hungover when I woke up but all the more reason to get up and face the day. I had done this hike for the first time in October and did it from Riomaggiore to Manarola. This time, I decided to do it the opposite way. Weekends are so crowded this time of year, it’s awful. I can’t imagine how bad it is in the summer. I walked to the train, having a general idea of the time the train would leave, but forgetting how packed it would be. There was a long line for the ticket machine and I got lucky that, since the trains were so crowded, they were running a few minutes late. I made my way up into Manarola to the trail. This trail is the ancient Beccara trail. It is steep and full of uneven “steps”. That’s in quotations because mostly, it’s just rocks that are sort of like steps. You’ll see below. Again, I had some amazing views of the village of Manarola as I hiked up and of Riomaggiore as I went down the other side.
* I have to reduce the size so much on these photos in order to upload them with the wifi here that they are a little poor quality. :(
The rest of the villages are right on the sea, but Corniglia is set up on a hill. Once off the train, you can take a bus, walk up the winding road or walk up a bunch of steps. I always walk. Today was steps. The grape harvest has started for some people, so you see containers of grapes around and I will hopefully actually see people harvesting them soon while on the trails.