Today, I was supposed to board a plane back to Holland. I was going to continue living what I thought was my dream life. Instead, today is the day I give up on that dream, for now.
A few years ago we ditched the American Dream for an entirely different dream. We left EVERYTHING behind for a backpack and a dream of living in Europe. We somehow managed to turn that dream into reality when we moved to Italy in 2009. Then, the crisis hit the Italian economy, finding work was difficult and finalizing our permanent status was beyond challenging. So last fall we moved to The Netherlands. We saw it as a nice middle ground between Italy and the US. We would have Italy close by but we’d have some economic and political stability, plus a dash of what we consider American culture. This past January we came back to Miami to finalize our paperwork to get our residence there. After four years of back and forth we were finally going to settle in Europe. YAY!
Then life happens, as it tends to. A set of career-changing offers in Miami and a very sick mom changed everything in one second. That got me thinking that whatever decision we made would have to be pretty permanent for the next several years. Once your child starts kindergarten, the constant travel and moving needs to be exchanged for some stability for a while. So there it is, we are staying in Miami, and for some time.
Although I knew we’d be staying for some time now, today was a difficult day. It’s the day I finally came to terms with the reality that this is happening now no matter how hard I try to fight it. I am giving up on my dream to live in Europe and raise my kid there. When I saw this might be coming, I felt sad, mad, disappointed, and at one point I almost had a panic attack. It seemed like I was giving up, like I was failing. Now that I have had some time to breathe, and it’s pretty much a done deal this is my take on all of this…
What we want is not always what we need right now: My European adventure was incredible. Living in Europe was truly a dream come true. Amazing schools for my kid, cheap, delicious organic food, all grass-fed beef, cheap yet amazing healthcare, incredible sightseeing, travel for close to nothing, and culture flowing from every corner; how could I not want that for good?I may want all of those things but we now know that our future is not entirely in our hands. I am not sure where my human experience is leading me. I do believe in a higher being that gives us many paths to take and when you’re following a path based on faith and not in reason, you don’t get to think you have control over what tomorrow brings. Every step of this journey has led me to greater and greater successes. Just when I think I’ve lived something amazing and it’s too good to be true and it must end, another blessing comes my way. I realize I have had hurdles and struggles but I can’t complain because my adventure is far from over. What I REALLY need is to live mindfully taking it a day at a time. This experience, having to leave all my belongings in Europe to stay here against all my planning has taught me that what I want to do right now is not the same as what I need to do and that’s ok too.
I can plan all I want but I can’t control a darn thing: I realize we make a variety of choices that create some increase in probability that we will head in a certain direction, but there are no guarantees in life. A few years ago I saw many people lose their entire life savings, their jobs, their homes, and some even ended up on the street. They had taken every safe step and nothing had worked out how they though it would. There is no way we REALLY know how our life will turn out. Luck, choices, and opportunities are REAL, control and planning are the only fantasies. None of my plans this year turned out the way I laid them out. Thanks to that, it has been a crazy and adventurous year; but I wouldn’t change a minute of it.
If you are not ok, we’re not ok: I realized a few weeks ago that we can’t put our kids first, above reason and common sense but mostly above everyone else. I knew that the Netherlands would be the best place for my child for the main things like education, healthcare, and food, but there are other things here that are more important right now. My sick mother needs me here, my business grows faster here, and my husband gets a chance to get back to his career (being a stay-at-home dad is not for everyone) and we all get to spend quality time with some pretty important people on our lives. If one of us isn’t feeling entirely fulfilled or secure we have to look for choices that best fits the most of us. If my mom’s health is failing and my days with her are counted, I need to be there for her. If my family is here and my son has a chance to get closer to them, that’s a pretty good reason to stay too. Besides, Miami is not a horrible place to live by any means. That leads me to my most important point.
I am not a tree: I am not stuck ANYWHERE at any time. I am giving up on this dream for now, but maybe not forever. Moving countries three times in one year is insane but moving again in a few years is not entirely irresponsible. I moved my whole childhood and it opened my mind and taught me a great deal of skills. That’s not my point. The point is this. I need to live THIS moment in THIS place without any fear that I am somehow stuck. That’s what made me take some premature steps. I can stay here watch my business flourish to its fullest potential, make sure my mom is in a place where she is stable, and give my husband some time to find a career path that fulfills him as well. Most of all, my child’s greatest source of physical and emotional nourishment is his village. My family, friends, community, and city are all a big part of what will make his time here enriching. How I nourish those relationships and experiences is what will make him flourish too. When the time is right and with all of our ducks in a row we can move again knowing full well that the world is our oyster. Dreams and people change and as long as this is our dream we can keep pursuing it. However, in the mean time…
I will live the moment to the fullest: Sounds cliche right? I’m sure you’ve heard it a million times. “Seize the day!”, “Live life to the fullest.”, “Live in the moment.”, “To each day its own worries.” Then there’s mindfulness, the concept of ONLY focusing on the RIGHT now, this very second. Yes, you heart it everywhere because that is the most important life skill we can all live. I am not saying we must stop planning and never think of the future or ever reflect on the past. The point is I have to remind myself to live in the right now because my past and future consume, exhaust, and distract me from being mindful. I am living in one the most amazing cities/countries in the world. There is so much to experience and explore! I choose to love this moment and live it to its fullest potential. Don’t believe me? Check out my instagram! 😉
Freedom is a choice: The biggest lesson I have learned in the journey of moving to Italy, moving back here, moving back to Italy, moving to Holland, and then again moving back here is this… Once you have the courage to detach yourself from what’s material, understand that your life is yours and your choices, and realize that in the end nothing is completely under your control, you will finally realize what freedom really is. As my brother admired how much I’d simplified my life when I moved overseas, he remarked that the richest person is not the one who has the most but the one who needs the least. Freedom is making the best of what you have and making something out of what seems like empty space to the rest of the world. The more wealth I accumulate the less I need it to make me happy. Oh the irony! I am free and that is something that I can never lose because it is by choice that I am free.
New Dreams Come Every Night: I can live a dream every day. Happiness is a choice too. Many people dream of living the life you have. Just because you are reading this from some smart phone or computer that already means you have something many people simply dream they had. I realize that I can’t dwell on the sadness of others to realize how blessed I am. I can be simply grateful for what I am given. This moment is a blessing because I am breathing, because I have the opportunity for another day and with it endless possibilities. It may seem like I gave up my dream but that is not the case. I am living the dream because no matter where I am I still have a smile, a grateful heart, and a passport. An important part of achieving a dream is its pursuit. Don’t misinterpret me though, I think the “pursuit of happiness” is crap as it has been sold to us. To be happy we don’t need to be married, with 2.5 children, a picket fence in the suburbs and a stable job. A dream can be any life you choose to appreciate or pursue. Being single, childless or houseless is not incomplete, it’s just different than the sales pitch. The pursuit I’m talking about is that for the time being I will make a dream of the life I have right now. I know I have the courage to change and mold my life if I am persistent. So why be sad by this small step in my path?
Be thankful; that’s the way we live a dream life even if it seems we’re not heading towards our goals.
A friend of mine recently told me I tend to be preachy when I write. Well, yeah that’s kind of true. So here’s the disclaimer from now on: This is called “Mavi Says.” It is simply a compilation of opinions and feelings I get from living the life I live. This is therapy for me. This is the place I write to preach to myself first in hopes others will also learn from my trips and falls in life. I am far from perfect and so are you. I just share what wisdom I pick up along the way and hope you share and discuss too. I will change my mind as I grow older, as I see new far away places, and meet new people. My passion and zest when I express my opinions are a big part of what makes me, me. The only thing that will remain true is that this is simply what Mavi Says, nothing more, nothing less.