The Return 2015

Eleven months ago I was a bundle of nerves and filled with excitement. Final preparations were being made for my trip to Italy to meet my family for the first time. Before booking this trip my last official “vacation” was to Cape Cod in 1993, so I was more than ready to leave town and venture out in to the world. Having never flown on an international flight I was feeling unsure of how I would find my way and get to where I needed to be on time during the plane changes. Those were very minor concerns as the bigger, better task was to be properly prepared. I had been planning this trip in my mind for months and now I was down to just a few short weeks of my dream becoming a reality.

It was weeks after my return to the states before I could write about my visit. So deeply touched by the huge outpouring of love by my italian family and the people of Melfi, it took me a very long time to regroup myself both mentally and emotionally. It felt as though I was floating inside a huge bubble of the experiences I had in Italy. My sleep interrupted with memories of joy and happiness, I would wake during the night and realize I was back in my own bed and had been dreaming. The dreams felt so real and were only unsettling because I was torn between two countries and two families – both of which were my own.

Since then my life has taken yet another crazy turn. It was rough, it was tough and it sure was painful but damned if I didn’t make it through!!! Ha! YES I survived. I have paid my price and have now cleared the way for more good things to enter my life. Choosing to replace the bad and ugly with the beautiful bread and wine life has to offer.

That is Italian bread and Italian wine…..I am returning to my beloved Italy! The decision came last week. To describe how I came to the decision is quite difficult because I didn’t really plan it and wasn’t even thinking about it. I mean, I knew I’d return to Italy but with everything that has happened in past couple of months it wasn’t foremost on my mind. I guess the best way I can put it is that it was a “physical” feeling. I felt my body get light, it felt clean and clear like a beautiful blue sky. Then June 2015 came to mind and that was it. I will return to Italy in June 2015.

So I start again to over-work myself to save money for airfare and spending. This time I know what I’m in for! This time I will take gifts. This time I will speak better Italian! I’ve met everyone at least once, so this time I will spend more time with the elders. This time I will ask more questions. This time maybe I’ll fly into Rome – I’d love to see it! Maybe, just maybe I might add an extra week there….
AND this time I will go without threats from “Mr”. This time I will not be punished by him either. I am so very thankful to be free of him and his deranged mind.

I can’t wait to go to Melfi again! To spend a day or two in Naples again, what a beautiful city. We will walk in the mountains again. There are babies that have been born, one that has been adopted and a set of twins on the way, I will meet these amazing children, gifts from God to our family. I will kiss their cheeks and hug them and tell them they are cherished. I will see my beloved elder Palmina’s (all 3 of them) and my dearest Vincenza who writes to me in translated english and worries about me when she see’s horrible storms of the US on her television.

I am returning to my home of comfort and love. The place my heart feels peace. I am returning to Italy.

New to my blog? You can read the whole Italy story here:
I’ll be home in 100 years Part 1

I’ll be home in 100 years Part 2

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Sparkle

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Heading into the second month of the major change in my living situation, I am seeing greater moments of positive – the proverbial “silver lining” has started to come through. A slow process to be sure but I keep my eyes open for that glint of sparkle. Finding the good things about the change was quite difficult in the beginning – that’s normal I suppose. Especially because this move was not my choice – it was at someone else’s hand. Regardless of how I got here, my days are starting to feel routine. Priorities flipped and switched and reset. I have let go of more emotional baggage and closed a few doors, which in turn has created room for better things to come into my heart and my head. There was a bloodletting of sorts. It was not without pain and effort mind you, but it was healing and therapeutic in many ways.

Only when I rid myself of the weight of those burdens did I find the peace and space that allowed me to see a small sampling of what good is to come my way. A sparkle, a light and airy feeling in my chest. Doors appear that I had not seen before. I am moments from turning their knobs and pushing them open. I can see the little streams of light glowing from the small slits around the door. They shine like embers and sparkle with promise.

One year ago my whole life revolved around my visit to Italy. Scrimping and saving to buy my airline tickets and have money to spend while I was there. One year ago I was filled with excitement and anxiety, fear and exhilaration. I was planning and making lists, worrying about being a burden, not understanding the language, what the weather would be like and how much weight I’d put on since having to take large doses of Prednisone for my RA. Yeah, I put on almost 25 pounds. It was upsetting but I couldn’t do a thing about that. One year ago I was preparing for what I thought was to be an exciting trip. I told myself it was MY TURN and I deserved it. As it turned out it was a truly life altering experience. More than I had even begun to imagine was possible.

Now, one year later, look where I ended up! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again;
I would take that amazing journey of love, family and Italy even if I knew what “they” would punish me with! I’d do it again in a heartbeat.
I will get to take that journey to Italy again. This time without punishment, without my life being held in their balance. I will buckle to no one. I will answer to only myself. This next visit to be with my family in Italy will also be an investigation and research quest. What I can do for work to support myself there, how to become a citizen, where I can afford to live and IF I think I am capable of taking the Expat route for the rest of my life. Or do I want to go for dual citizenship?

I see a future. I see a light – and it sparkles.

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Let It Be

When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me“.
So much has changed in the last few weeks. My life turned upside down again and I have tried with all my might to take it with every ounce of inner strength I can muster up. For those of you who don’t know; I was told to leave the house I lived in because of my 100 Years Project to meet my family in Italy. I scrimped and saved to get there and spent two of the happiest weeks of my life reconnecting a family in two countries. It’s all documented here on my blog. The owner of the house became so angry that he told me to leave. My punishment for doing something he doesn’t have the nerve to do. He has obvious mental issues and I became the focus of his hate and realizations of his weaknesses and inferiority problems. So, “Let It Be”  has become my mantra.

 “and in my hour of darkness, she is standing right in front of me. Speaking words of wisdom, let it be”. 
Am I angry? Hell yes! Am I hurt? Yup, but I can’t spend time with those feelings because they serve no good to me or for me. Now I am learning to live each day a bit differently. I have lost so much with this move. There are moments I feel so sad, so lonely, so empty and so very lost in this great big world. Yet I remind myself of the things that make me smile inside, the moments I was in Melfi, Naples, San Giovanni Rotondo. The mental image of the Adriatic Sea from the mountain top. The days spent with my family, how happy they were to have me there! The sounds of their voices, laughter and chattering in the Italian language which I still do not understand. I pull my thoughts to those amazing moments of meals together, walking the ancient streets, smelling the air and feeling it on my face. Details, I remember so many details and they make me smile. My heart is so happy when I think back to my days in Melfi. It was the most incredible time of my life and NOTHING anyone can do TO me will change that.

and when the night is cloudy, there is still a light that shines on me
I have stayed connected with my Italian family. My grandmothers niece and I write letters regularly. My cousins and I group chat daily through an app on our cell phones. We send pictures, greetings, videos and even voice messages every day. They send me translations of Melfitano dialect: Kiatres=fa freddo=it’s cold. I am included in their daily life. Photo’s of my cousins newly adopted son, Simone. I was included in the celebration of another cousins birth of her son just last week, the birth of another cousins daughter in November and the news of yet another pregnancy – with TWINS!

There will be an answer, Let it Be”
So often I think I should just move to Melfi. I ponder the possibility each day. The Pros and Cons of moving to Melfi are many. America has always been my home country but I have no home of my own in America. Nor would I have one in Melfi, but I have so much family in Melfi that would help me until I could establish myself. There would be many trade offs. My small family here; what would life be like without them? My very large family in Melfi; how can I stay away? First order of business is learning Italian, which I start next month. The rest is ALL financial and overwhelming.

I wake up to the sound of music, Mother Mary comes to me. Speaking words of wisdom, let it be”
Somehow I think the answer will come in due time. If I walk each day with peace and confidence I have to believe that the answers will come. If I “let it be” to the hurt from a friend who would put me on the street, “let it be” to the harsh and difficult struggle he has put in my path, “There will be an answer, let it be” could very well be the mantra that will bring me home.

“Shine until tomorrow, Let it be”

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Unexpected Acts of Kindness

Saturday morning here in Western NY was brutally cold and windy. We had received a large dumping of snow on Thursday and by Saturday most of it had been cleared from roads and parking lots but some area’s still had a good amount of half-frozen slushy stuff.

I bundled up and ventured out just to get a couple of things; dog food, gas and one of the medications I needed. I had only 20 bucks for gas this morning. I pulled into line with only one car in front of me at the pump. It appeared empty with no one around but I thought I’d wait a minute to see if the person would return. I sat there looking at all the people pumping their gas and holding on for dear life with the wind blowing so hard. It took what seemed like forever, but finally the driver’s door of the car in front of me opened, two small feet gingerly swung out to the ground and an elderly man stepped out. The wind was blowing so fiercely his coat almost blew off of his body as he stood upright. He had old sneakers on and the ice and snow under his feet made him walk with a shuffle as he held on to his car and his coat. Realizing I was holding my breath as he finally got to the rear of his car, I got out of my car, I couldn’t watch another second. That frigid high wind hit me with such impact I gasped. I walked up to this poor old man and asked if I could pump his gas for him. He said “oh, would you please”? I told him I’d be happy to and asked him to get back in his car. He shuffled back around his car and I was torn whether to help him or start filling his tank. The attendant walked by and said “you don’t have to do that”. “I know” I said. I stood there in that cold and wind and wondered what this old man and his wife were doing out in such conditions. I had only ventured out to get three things. It really bothered me to witness this fragile old man fighting the elements just for gas. As I was standing there pumping his gas the lady next to me blessed me for my kindness saying “not one person offered but you”. There were a lot of people there, it’s a busy place any time of year or conditions. When his tank was full I grabbed his receipt and gave it to him. He thanked me and off they went.
I pulled my car up to the pump, put $20 worth of gas in my tank, paid the attendant and left. It took me a while to digest what had just happened and to stop wondering about that couple. Thinking to myself how a simple act of kindness – less than 5 mins of my time – is more personally fulfilling than the act itself. For a few short minutes I forgot how miserable and stressful my life is at this moment. I realized how much easier it is to smile, hold a door, offer to do something so crazy simple like pump someones gas for them!

I wonder if we just don’t pay attention to our surroundings. Are we that caught up with ourselves that we can’t see what’s right in front of us? Maybe because it did happen right in front of me I couldn’t ignore it. I know for a fact that I had visions of that poor man taking a face first dive to the icy pavement and people just passed him by. Including the attendant and the lady on the other side of my pump who blessed me for helping a little old man just trying to take care of himself and his wife.

It’s amazing how one simple little act of human kindness offered to another makes you feel so good about yourself. It wasn’t planned, it just happened. That makes it all the better. So, I guess the only other thing I want to say is “Pass it On” please.

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Italy puts love in the mail

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My last long and torturous Thursday night at work was last night. Of course appointments got behind, there were treatments to be done, a lot of hurry up and wait moments and I watched the clock tick thinking what a mixed blessing it is that my hours are being cut to accommodate a new staff member. I’m sure gonna miss the pay but will not miss the misery of this particular day of the week at work. It’s long, difficult, filled with bickering and tension. No, I won’t miss that part.

Those are also the moments when my mind goes to Italy. Thinking about my family, remembering their faces and trying to remember the sound of their voices and laughter. I pull up a particular day of my visit in my mind, try to relive the moments, the sounds and the smells. It gives me a sense of inner comfort that helps calm me, keeps me from reacting to all that is going on around me in that moment.

Last night as I pulled my car into the driveway I looked, as I always do now, for signs of “him” coming to snoop. Nothing, good, I could relax, feed my pets and eat my very late dinner. I went to the mailbox and in the dark pulled out a white envelope which was cold and sort of, well, “traveled”. An instant rush – it was from Italy!

A ray of warm sunshine in an envelope, just for me. Who would think a person could feel so much joy, happiness and excitement from a letter? My dear Vincenza, thinking of me, writing me. It couldn’t have come at a better time, the day after Christmas and I take this as a sign that all will be well in my world.

Vincenza does not know the English language but her son-in-law is fluent. She asks me to write in English and tells me he will translate for her. Then she writes a letter to me in italian and he translates it to english, word for word. Vincenza will then hand write her letter to me in english. I am so humbled by this effort put forth to keep our communication going. She makes me want to learn italian even more, makes me want to be better and try harder. I want to learn her language so much so that when I get to see her again we can talk and understand each other freely.

Right now it seems like just another crazy dream of mine but who knows where life will take us? Who would have ever thought I’d make a dream come true? It all seems so far away at this point but so did my amazing journey in May. In the meantime, I will follow the same disciplines I used before. And again will find myself sitting with Vincenza and the rest of my family in Melfi. I found love in Melfi and Melfi mails love to me.

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Goodbye 2013

2013

Twelve months of an amazing roller coaster ride of ups, downs, uncertainties, certainties, fears conquered, new beginnings and experiences. I accomplished new goals and a few old ones. I learned so much about myself and sadly, about others who have been in my life for many years.

Starting in January and February the focus was about getting my Passport. Nervous about the process, I was lucky enough to have  “Passport Specialist” Janet take my hand and walk me through. It arrived in record time and sealed my plan to go to Italy.

March brought me a big mixed bag of accomplishment and hurt. Thanks to my stepfather, the last $300 I needed to purchase my airline tickets was gifted to me. I sat in the Travel office with cash in hand, booked my flights and told my story when asked why I had to land in Napoli on 12 May 2013. The realization of my dream was emotional that day, I cried and she cried. The Travel office was buzzing when one agent heard our conversation and quickly everyone was filled with smiles, tears and best wishes for a great trip.

As of that point less than a handful of people knew of my 100 Years goal. I believe some didn’t really think I’d go through with the trip period. I guess in some ways I can understand as I tend to be a dreamer and a wisher. As I shared my steps with more people they started to believe.

April held true to its lore; “April Showers bring May Flowers”. And it showered in April. The first storm came with a phone message from my dear friend’s husband. He owns the house I live in and we have had a “housesitting” arrangement for a few years now. Not wanting to sell or rent it, he (they) offered me to live here, keep it occupied, pay the utilities.  When he realized that I had booked my flights he went over the proverbial edge. Came to the house while I was working one day and tore the laundry room apart. Why the laundry room? I think he was looking for a stash of some kind, but things were tossed all over. Then he went through the living area. My Passport that I had so proudly displayed in a glass cabinet was moved; my airline tickets all messed up. Then the voice message; “I thought it was just a dream, I never believed you’d go through with it. You must be rolling in the dough if you can afford to take an International Vacation. I guess it’s time I re-access the deal with the house.” Ending with “Ciao for now”
I could spend a lot of time writing about the aftermath of that storm – I have a lot to say about it and will post more in the future. For now, I will let that river of muck sit.

April also brought me lists, lots of lists. Packing, pet sitter, research papers and photos to take, organizing and making sure everything here was covered while I was gone. Above all that my animals would be taken care of.
It also was when I finally let the world know of my 100 Years journey. Mouths dropped, eyes revealed shock and tears and the same words came out of each mouth; “I just got the chills”. Everyone said that, I was amazed to hear it so many times.

May finally came, the months of research, finding of family in another country, bonding with them via the internet for two years, Passport, tickets, spending money and nerves it was all coming together. I was scared about the actual travel process. Not being in the plane but how international flights actually work. Questioning in my head “how will I know where to go, what is Customs like?”
So many people were excited for me. I received cards of best wishes with gifts of money and each signed “I am so happy for you! Have a wonderful time. Have lunch/dinner on me” or “Here’s a little something to help insure you have the trip of a lifetime.” I was not expecting those gifts, it was humbling yet I was grateful and honored.

On May 11th my sister picked me up and off we went to the Rochester Airport. It’s kind of hard to describe how I felt that morning. I was nervous when I woke up but as soon as I hugged my sister goodbye and went through security, there was a huge sense of peace that came over me. Yes, I was still nervous about the process but deep inside I felt an overwhelming calm. An intuition, that all was as it should be. You can call me crazy but I did feel the presence of both my Dad and my Grandfather.
After leaving Philadelphia and arriving in Brussels on the 12th (with no sleep, because I can’t sleep on planes) I was energized and filled with excitement! I was in Europe!! Okay, so it was only the airport, but to me it was a big event! I sat and waited to board the final plane that would take me to my destination; Napoli, Italia. 100 years exactly to the day that my Grandfather arrived in America. To have a window seat was thrilling to me. I watched the landscape change, white to green. I saw Naples underneath me and as the plane hit the runway, tires breaking and speed reducing to a taxi mode I could feel my heart racing, my tears welling and my hands shaking with excitement. I had done it; I landed on Italian soil 100 Years to the day. It was incredible.

The story of my journey is in these two posts;

 http://mountaingypsy.wordpress.com/2013/08/15/ill-be-home-in-100-years-part-1-draft/

http://mountaingypsy.wordpress.com/2013/08/20/ill-be-home-in-100-years-part-2/

June and July were filled with feelings of confusion and the inability to unravel the thoughts and powerful emotions of my journey. I tried to write, tried to share the experience but just could not get it flowing. Feelings of being in the wrong place, America, were more than I could comprehend or understand. When I was in Italy I was home. There were strong feelings of peace, belonging, love and comfort in Melfi. I wanted to go back; my Melfi family wanted me to stay in Melfi. Another dream formed; Move to Melfi.
These two months also brought me back to the sucker punch of the house deal. He came up with all kinds of ridiculous stories to instill fear and threats in me. Emotional manipulations and lies were tossed at me. I did not for one second believe a single word and I saw through every one like the holes of Swiss cheese. I let it ride as the beginnings of something I could not define were starting to spark in my head.

August brought me the amazing and glorious gifts of clarity and flowing of thoughts. Finally, I was able to organize my heart and my head into one cohesive unit. The words came, the music came and most of the story told. First here on my blog, then upon requests, copies printed and given out. It was a good month for me overall but something was lurking in the shadows of my mind. A strong sense of doom grew within. Again, I let it ride.

September and October brought light. I missed my Melfi family; I wanted to start planning my next trip, to set a goal date to return. And then the light shone itself; As long as I live in this house I will never be allowed to return to Italy. There it was, the nagging shadow had stepped in to view. It was in that moment I realized I needed to do two things right away. First was to find a better paying job. A job that would allow me enough money to pay rent and be able to eat, drive and have my pets. Second was to move. Get as far away from this once friend, now foe, as possible. I needed to find a place where no one would enter when I wasn’t home and go through my things. I needed to find a place where my things would be just as I left them when I returned home. A better paying job is hard to find at my age with little education, it’s not gonna happen overnight. But nothing is impossible and I need to make more money, get above poverty level and make a better life for myself.
I had received my lighted message and plans started to form.

But then came November…..A surprise visit from “him” on the Sunday before Thanksgiving. “I want the house back” was all he would say. I asked 3 times “what did I do?” and got the same answer each time. I knew EXACTLY what I had done; I went to Italy, but I wanted him to say the words. I know that was silly to expect, but I really wanted to hear it anyway. Verbally he gave me until Dec 31st. Two days later the “formal letter” stating we’d get together in mid-January to set an out by date. (Guy can’t even keep his own words straight!) One week later the same letter delivered by Certified Mail.
He; the judge and jury decided my fate, his punishment for my crime. His wife; my “friend” of 20+ years – never heard a single word.   

December; it is now just a couple of days before Christmas. No decorations here, no presents to give. No Christmas music playing. I have been packing up my things. Little by little each day I clear out a shelf, a closet and make decisions about what to keep and what to toss. What goes to Thrift Stores and what goes into storage. I cry a lot when I’m alone. I pray a lot because I am scared to death. I pray a lot because I am angry. I keep telling myself this will turn out okay; something better is on the horizon. But it’s hard to believe my own words and thoughts right now. In some ways I feel like I’m in a state of denial, that two people I have been friends with, shared laughter and tears, funerals and puppies, enjoyed spending a lot of time with could do this to me. Alas, it is done and here I sit looking at the great unknown, Mountain Gypsy on the move again.

Maybe it’s an answer to my prayers for peace, guidance, understanding and love. It could be that I am being protected from evil by leaving here. The evil that snoops around my things when I’m not home, the evil that judges me because I did something HE couldn’t do, the evil that tells lies and uses his position of power to hurt. Well, so be it.

As December fades and 2014 begins to come into view, I will be out of here. Maybe even back to my family in Italy, a better job and a place to live where I don’t have to check if someone’s been snooping. Maybe not, maybe I could end up much worse off, but either way; I will pay the price for what I did, what I accomplished, the love I found, the peace I felt and the whole incredible and epic journey I made happen.  

Here’s to good things, happy times and a lot of Peace and Joy in 2014

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We Learn

We Learn

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