Exploring New Directions: The Making of a Mission Statement

Thisaway BadolatoIn my post Life Lessons in Southern Italy: It’s the Simple, Stupid, I quietly started down a new path for this blog as I begin processing my journey to where I am today — physically as well as psychologically. Although I’ve been writing here for years, up until now, I haven’t really stopped to evaluate the lifestyle choices I’ve made. Various posts have touched on this theme (The Meaning of Calabrian Life, Settling Into Southern Italy, and generally, I think, in all the Love Thursday posts, among others), but there’s nothing like the seven-year (itch) mark for the expat to take account of her life.

Yes, over the past seven and a half years, I’ve been so busy simply living (no pun intended), I wasn’t really processing it all — and I thought that “leading by example” for lack of a better term could help others follow their own dreams. And I still feel this is possible, but I’m ready for a slightly new direction. I’m ready to conquer challenges beyond learning a new language, starting a freelance writing career from nothing, and raising goats; I’m ready to delve into the emotions and thought processes behind my life’s changes and more explicitly help you identify areas in your life you’d like to improve as well.

I would be honored if you would accompany me on this journey.

I will be exploring various concepts that have become central to my daily life, including simplicity, being present in the moment, decluttering, making meals from scratch (continuing this theme, actually) acknowledging feelings deep within your soul, and much more, but please know there are no obligations here. I will be writing about a highly personalized journey to be sure, but hopefully with applications in your daily life as well.

It’s a journey that may not interest you in the least, and that’s OK. Even if you’ve been a Bleeding Espresso reader from the start and you feel like jumping off now, there are truly no hard feelings on my part. I wish you the best on your own life journey, and you’re welcome to come back at any time.

A blog is a living, breathing being, and mine follows my waves because I’m the one writing it — this is where I am in my life right now, and these are things I need to write about, not only to gain some clarity and perspective in my own mind but also to hopefully encourage you to do the same.

Look at your life: where you are, from where you’ve come, and where you’d like to go.

And I don’t necessarily mean physically.

WallflowersSome of you got the impression from my last post that I believe simplicity and/or the good things in life can only be found in on a hilltop in rural southern Italy or even in Italy generally. Hardly. For some of you, life on my hilltop would be absolute hell. I can guarantee that. And life in Rome might not be much better for some of you either. Indeed, if you look around a bit, you’ll find plenty of disgruntled expats and former expats who can tell you all about their frustrations with living in Italy.

That’s not what you’ll find here, though, as I don’t dwell on the negatives naturally, but also because for me, the positives of living here so far outweigh the negatives for me that the latter are barely worth some quick Facebook rants. Always remember though, that I’ve been here for seven plus years, and I live a very particular kind of lifestyle — my experiences are mine and mine only.

I can’t and don’t speak for anyone else.

But my goal was never to convince you to move to Italy. It’s certainly not the right choice for everyone or even most people. And that’s why I’m giving fair warning that this blog is destined to veer off the subject of Italy as I explore universal concepts that apply to human emotions and actions no matter where you live; at the same time, though, I can’t deny that my location — consciously chosen by me because I felt in my very being that I was meant to be here in my ancestors’ village — has played an important role in my personal journey and my lifestyle choices, so the shadow of Calabria will likely never be too far behind.

No matter our physical locations, though, it’s important to acknowledge that we are all just doing our best to maneuver through this agrodolce vita — bittersweet life. No life anywhere is dolce all the time, but that doesn’t mean we can’t try to find some sweetness in each and every moment. For me, simplifying certain aspects of my life has helped me do that, and I’d love to tell you more about it.

I hope you’d love to listen and share your experiences as well.

51 Beans of Wisdom to “Exploring New Directions: The Making of a Mission Statement”
  1. 02.25.2011

    I’ve enjoyed reading your posts about your experiences in Italy and I’ve no doubt I’ll enjoy reading your posts as you take us in a new direction.

    Thanks for the invitation to join you on the journey.

  2. 02.25.2011

    Looking forward to it, Michelle. Can’t wait to see what you have to say!

  3. 02.25.2011

    Sign me up! I’ve been a follower (who rarely comments) for some time now. Some days I feel that my life is headed in the same direction — others, not so much.
    Looking forward to the journey with you —

    D

  4. Lars
    02.25.2011

    Great!..looking forward to it

  5. How can I resist? I’m at the 7 year stage, too, although it’s France I moved to. I’m wholly for exploring new directions and so very much of this sentiment goes into my compass creations as well as my life. It’s “living it” in every sense. Really looking forward to seeing, hearing, reading more! Thank you, Gee.

  6. 02.25.2011

    I’m really happy you want to share it with us. I am in a very messy and confused period, and anyone that can offer some insight into the choices they have made, and help me reflect on my own, will be hugely valuable to me.

    I perfectly understand what you mean about Italy – I’m pretty sure most of your neighbours have a very different perception of their life style and their choices, but it is clear that that place has a very special meaning to you.

  7. Can’t wait to read more!

    x

  8. 02.25.2011

    I’m along for the journey Michelle. I look forward to following the unexpected path, and hope for surprises around the corner.

  9. Ciao Michelle! I am so excited to follow along with you on your journey. I am honored that you would take us all along with you!

  10. 02.25.2011

    I will still be here to read and enjoy what ever you decide to share with us Michelle. I admire you for being able to write about your personal feelings in this way…..

  11. Karina@Motherhood and the Creative Life
    02.25.2011

    I think this is a great idea and I’m so looking forward to what you have to share!

  12. connie
    02.25.2011

    Michelle: love, love, just love reading your posts…you know I’ve been following BE from the start and I have to say that since then my outlook on life has much changed for the better. Would love for u to include me in your journey, always wanted to write, still do..and u know how much in love(again) your writings made me fall with our village..would love to contribute.

  13. Cathy
    02.25.2011

    Michelle,
    I think this sounds like a really interesting direction that you are taking, and I will definitely be reading your future posts.

  14. Imani
    02.25.2011

    Go for it, Michelle! I’m sticking around as I have for the past few years. even though I don’t often leave “my two beans of wisdom”.

    Imani

  15. 02.25.2011

    Hey I luv your blog honey! I am a faithful reader…keep on sharing!

  16. 02.25.2011

    Well, my whole journey with you has been about aligning my life with my values, so this makes perfect sense. From the time I started reading your blog, through the period when I was bound and determined to go reclaim my Italian citizenship, and then when Berlu and the financial crisis changed that and I moved East, you’ve somehow always been a part of that… including finding me a job which makes it that much easier for me to stay home and take care of my pup.

    So hells to the yeah. Sign me up.

  17. Kelly Hope
    02.25.2011

    Michelle – Greetings from Washington, DC! I’ve been a reader of BE for about two years now. I really enjoy reading your blog :) With March just around the corner (and hopefully some warmer weather!), I am going to be doing some ‘spring cleaning’ of my own and would value any words you have to offer. Good luck to you and I look forward to whatever you have in store for us…

  18. I find it extremely refreshing to see someone your age who has already figured this much out. You can find happiness almost anywhere. I have a relative who is a lifer in prison and I have watched him (via letters) in the last 15 years get closer and closer to happiness and spiritual growth. Of course living in Calabria (or Seattle in my case) is nothing like living in a California prison, but once we sit back and take a deep breath we can examine what freedoms we have and what we can do with them. I will enjoy listening to what you have to say.

  19. 02.25.2011

    I can’t wait to see where you and your blog go now. I think the ability to change when you need to is what makes people and blogs interesting. Too much “same old, same old” is the kiss of death.

  20. saretta
    02.25.2011

    Ok, count me in. Can’t wait to see where we go on this journey!

  21. Lynn
    02.25.2011

    I can’t wait….I so enjoy your writing and look forward to going along with you on this journey

  22. Caterina B
    02.25.2011

    Yup, Michelle! I’m with you all the way! Sounds like this is going to be very interesting and I look forward to your next post.

  23. 02.26.2011

    It’s brave to go into uncharted waters. I think we all get more reflective and less reactive (and plain old less active) as we pass through various stages in our lives. Looking forward to your journey.

  24. 02.26.2011

    I love the direction you seem to be leaning towards. I think the things you’ve mentioned in this post are very important to finding happiness.

  25. Rhonda
    02.26.2011

    Ciao from Australia Michelle ! I’ve enjoyed all you’ve shared with us on BE for about 2 years now .. love reading about your lifestyle and also your adorable little goat family. I have visited Italy twice, and the call to return is always there! Looking forward to ‘joining you’ on your new journey. Good luck!

  26. Gil
    02.26.2011

    Don’t worry about me going anyplace too soon. I’ll still be here to bug you!!!

  27. So looking forward to your journey as you choose to share with all of us. Making choices and changes is all part of a life being lived and that is what makes it an interesting life! We have often talked about returning to Valentino’s hometown in Italy – and we talk about the beauty of life style in Italy and how precious family is – but as Valentino often reminds me, even there folks disagree and argue as well as love and live their lives freely! So even if you take us places we may not always agree with or enjoy, you will be sharing something precious! It’s a part of you!

  28. 02.26.2011

    I think this is fantastic and I really can’t wait to see how this journey unfolds for you. I moved to Italy to make a big change in my life, one that involved finding a simpler life. I’m still struggling through my first year here trying to find my groove, my balance, my way, but I think everyday I get a little bit closer. All the best on your new journey of discovery! :)

  29. I am coming to this post only tonight (early morning), I’ve been sick for a week and I quite literally only turned the computer on 2 or 3 times during that whole time. I admire what you have created here. I have always found your posts open and welcoming, no matter what the subject matter happened to be. For that reason I am pretty sure that I will always find something that will speak to me here. Auguri and in bocca al lupo!

  30. Claudia
    02.27.2011

    “Universals” are always welcome. We all lead such diverse lives, but there are so many things that bind people together. One of the joys of writing about food has been the interaction from people all over the world chiming in. I expect that one of the happy songs about writing about “universals” will be the many voices contributing.

  31. 02.27.2011

    I think this is going to be great! I love simplifying, and so I look forward to seeing where your new direction will take your blog. :)

  32. Jill
    02.27.2011

    I am really looking forward to following along with you! xo

  33. michelle
    02.27.2011

    Just want to thank all of you for your support and kind words; it’s especially wonderful to see names here in the comments I’ve never seen before or haven’t seen for a long time, so thank you, thank you for coming along. I truly appreciate your taking the time to not only read but let me know you’re here :)

  34. 02.27.2011

    I am SO with you on this Michelle! I’m really excited to continue this journey with you and looking forward to seeing where it takes us. : )

  35. 02.27.2011

    Michelle, You’re such a compelling writer that I’m all ears. We’re always evolving, and so good not to stay stuck but keep the flow moving. I’ve been thinking a lot about how to simplify my life also, so looking forward to meeting you in that space. Beginning to plan my next retreat in Italy. May we meet in Calabria someday soon.

  36. 02.28.2011

    Even if I haven’t commented in a while, I do read your blog and am interested in seeing where your journey takes you. Since I’m at home on mat leave, I’ve been leading a somewhat simpler life. So simple, in fact, that I don’t have the energy to write a new blog post ;) Best of luck and looking forward to reading more.

  37. Ann
    02.28.2011

    Please, take me on the journey with you! I can’t wait to read what you discover. I, too, am ready. . .

  38. Lark
    02.28.2011

    Looking forward to following you on your new journey! Can’t wait to watch it unfold…

  39. Rose Marie Milcetic
    02.28.2011

    Michelle, I would love to come with you on you new journey. It is certainly a better option than sitting here alone in my home day after day and night after night. Don’t want to be one of your “drags” though. Since I am now on the other side of 60 years I have been feeling kind of down, feeling useless, abandoned by three grow children who have no time even for an occasional phone call and by a workaholic husband who leaves our home a 6 a.m. and returns at midnight 24/7 to supervise the two shifts of employees that work for our construction company. Perhaps following your journey will help me to find a way to make peace with being at this stage of my life and can help me to love my life again. I’m ready to go!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  40. 03.02.2011

    I look forward to enjoying your journey through your writing. As Bette Davis said, “fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy night”. Congratulations on actually LIVING your life and noticing both the bumps (may they be slight) as well as the warmth and joy.

  41. michelle
    03.03.2011

    Thank you to those who have commented more recently; your support is great appreciated :)

  42. Eliz
    03.06.2011

    Michelle,

    I cannot begin to express how overjoyed I am that I decided to stop by Tartlette’s blog after months of neglect and then get directed to your blog. A blog that feels as if written by my future self. You see, I lived in Firenze for a few months two summers ago, taking a cooking and wine course and falling in love with a place that felt like home the moment my feet hit the cobblestone streets. I spent days walking in the fields of Lucca and Pisa, exploring the un-touristed paths and finding out the way of life rather than the history of the region. I found true peace there and since coming home, getting back into the 9 to 5 pace of the publishing world in the buzzing Manhattan streets, the only thought that makes my efforts worth it is that one day I will save enough to move back for good.

    Your blog speaks to me unlike any of the people whom I shared my experience in Italy with. It is as if you feel that peace I felt when I was there and as if you are exploring the road I know, and hope, will one day be my future in Southern Italy. I cannot wait to read about your life, about a busy American making a life, successfully, in Italy and hoping one day to follow in your path. Thank you for your blog, it is truly an inspiration and a lovely delight.

    Ciao!

    Thank you so much for sharing this, Eliz; I hope you continue to find value in what you read here, and I wish you the best of luck in your own journey as well :)

  43. 03.09.2011

    Wow! Timing is indeed everything. I felt as if I were looking inside of a literal mirror. I do not have enough words or time to express my appreciation for your honesty and transparency. God Bless You! I truly look forward to the unveiling of your journey.

    Thank you so much, Shantay; I hope you continue to enjoy the posts :)

  44. Cathleen Crawford
    03.24.2012

    My first time to read your blog–funny how just the right thing falls into our laps when we need it. I am an avid reader, have read at least a couple of thousand books and I really find your writing style just right. I want to read everything that you have written and here I am looking at homes for sale in southern Italy and who’s blog did I run into? My Grandmother was born east of Napoli in a hill town so who knows? maybe I will end up there. I will retire or at least go part-time in the next ten years, so I am looking and dreaming of all my possibilities. I am looking forward to your writing, I love your style and the information morsels about your life there. Thank you.

    michelle Reply:

    Thanks so much for coming by and commenting, Cathleen; hope you make it back here sooner rather than later :)

  45. Peggy
    04.24.2012

    Michelle – we met when I spent a month in Badolato during Easter-time six years ago. (Not sure if you recall.) I have longed to find a way to return and have often thought of the life you chose and how I might accomplish something similar for myself. I just found this blog today, can’t believe it’s been out there all this time! I am at a bit of a crossroads right now and in a similar place on my life’s journey that you mention in this post. Having added a son to my life three years ago, I am ever-more compelled to find a way to live a more simple life, alive in the moment. I look forward to reading the posts that have followed.

    michelle Reply:

    Thanks for being in touch, Peggy! I hope you can find a way back or at least a way to simplify your life as you see fit :)

  46. 07.03.2012

    Michelle, I just found your site (through a Twitter search for expat blogs) and am LOVING it!! You have an interesting, broad approach to your website, you write well and your voice rings true, and I just felt an instant affinity for you. Perhaps it is one former lawyer to another, one blogger to another, one expat to another. But I also love your Mission Statement and the shift in direction for your blog. Although my blog is premised upon life on a tiny island in the Bahamas, it’s evolved into expressing underlying themes of living life with an appreciation for the simple things, finding joy in every day, and choosing to live better lives – however best defined for each person. Thank you for sharing yourself with us. I look forward to reading more!

    michelle Reply:

    How wonderful to see you here, Dawn; will be sure to check out your place as well :)

  47. 12.05.2012

    If you could pass this along it would be much appreciated  

    Italian Yoga: Art of the Moment
    http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1894325341/italian-yoga-art-of-the-moment

  48. I love that… “agrodolce vita”. I have always appreciated the honesty of your writing. Hope we hear from you soon


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