…by Julie Clark Robinson

 “Be still in silence and listen to your heart.
When it speaks to you, arise and go where it brings you.”
 –Susan Tamaro, Va\’ Dove Ti Porta il Cuore

I think the sound of my own voice has finally gotten to me. Here it is, four years after I sat down to write my book, (ambitiously entitled Live in the Moment), two years after it was published, and countless book signings, speeches and interviews later, I\’m finally going to take my own advice. I\’m off to Italiana!

Can I afford it? Nope. Will my husband and kids be able to stay alive for ten whole days without me? Hope so. Is this something I\’ve wanted to do for as long as I can remember? You bet it is. 

One of the things I tell people in my book is to not put off their own joy. Don\’t save that soft new sweater for a special occasion, break it out at the first sign of brisk fall air. Treat yourself to the pumpkin candle even if it costs more than the unscented one. So, after months of prodding from my in-laws to join them on their annual fall trip, I\’m going to indulge in a bit of la dolce vita for myself!

Now that the decision is made and my suitcase is nearly packed, all liquids dutifully removed from my carry-on, (thank God airline security has decided to let lipstick through!), I can\’t stop thinking about what I actually expect to feel once my feet finally touch the other side of the world.

Somehow I\’m anticipating that the centuries-old cobblestone streets will fill me with, I don\’t know exactly what. A feeling? Secret wisdom from the past? Will seeing Michelangelo\’s David change me somehow? Will watching the glass blowers of Murano give me an appreciation that I don\’t already have? If I close my eyes, will a gondola ride feel all that different from a canoe?  

I\’m betting around $5000 that it will.

My father-in-law has good-naturedly planned our trip so that it offers something for each of us. My mother-in-law is interested in art, so we will visit the main galleries. My sister-in-law is a fashionista, so I\’m hearing the word “Gucci” being bantered about. When asked what I\’d like to do while in Italy, it was hard for me to pinpoint. After some deep thought, I told him … “cheese.”

I must explain myself. Years ago when I was on the bridesmaid circuit, I started to agonize whether I would find ever someone to share my life with. Tired of feeling “half” of something instead of whole, I saw a therapist to try to fill myself up. This woman challenged me to go out and do something that interested me, and I surprised myself and chose a cooking class. A Northern Italian cooking class. To this day if I want to make any day a tad more special, I grate some fresh Parmigiano Reggiano and sprinkle it on whatever it is that I\’m cooking. That\’s it! I want to go to the home of the good cheese. Hence a day trip to Emilia-Romagna was added our itinerary, along with five days to wander the Tuscan countryside during harvest so that we have some wine to wash our cheese down with, of course.

All that\’s left for me to do is buy a little journal that I can take along with me. I don\’t want to rely on pictures that I can see in any travel book, I want to record my feelings so that I can tap into them once I return. Next month, I\’ll share them with you. Ciao!

Action Exercise: (You can pretty much guess what I\’m going to say, can\’t you?) Take one thing off of your “life list” and make it happen. And, if you haven\’t made you list of things you want to do in your life, do it now!