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April 29, 2018
Today, on April 25th, I sit on my sunny veranda and the wild birds are so noisy and happy. They are chirping, cawing and singing all at once. Each species toot their own horn, as if to say … “hey, you are not the only free bird flying around these pretty blue skies” … over the Adriatic Sea in central Italy. Birds of a different feather, Italians, are celebrating Liberation Day, also called the Celebration of the Resistance, marking the end of the Italian Civil War and the end of the Nazi Occupation of Italy during World War II. While this does not compare whatsoever to being at war, liberating yourself from something that holds you down is worth celebrating and you don’t need a national holiday to recognize it. These kind of holidays make me think about all the things we are willing to fight for .... freedom to live and work in a healthy environment, express your opinions or to bring your dreams to reality can light a fire within us and push us to do things we never thought we could do.
I admit, I love how Italians celebrate. Today's holiday showcases parades, music and special presentations and for many communities throughout the country, they are on a big break. Families are having long lunches and walks on the beach. The celebration goes beyond today … it goes through next week for some. Today is a Wednesday and on Tuesday, May 1st is Labor Day, which happens to also be the day that the Americans arrived to help push out any remaining Nazi forces on Italian soil. My son doesn’t return to high school for another week. Yes, a week of liberation for him, before facing year end exams. While we can’t shirk responsibilities, nor expect life to give us handouts, there is something quite attractive of living a free life. This means something different for everyone and sometimes it is a mindset. When we started traveling to Italy for extended vacations, the busyness of work in the States disappeared. All those busy people were sleeping while we were out having fun. More often than not in my global work, Michel and I wake up to a flurry of activity that occurred the day before. Most of it can wait, a lot of it already got resolved, and very few urgent messages are truly urgent. America “wakes up” around 4 or 5 pm Italian time and more emails start rolling in, the automated promos fill up the inbox, and social media comes alive. There is something blissful having an entire day with no interruptions. Studies have shown that we are truly only productive for three hours per day. This may be strange, but I find I get more done in a day 6,000 miles away than when I am sitting directly onsite at one of our businesses.
Lifestyle choices for each individual's definition of freedom involves sacrifice and effort. When we made the big move overseas (gigantic effort after selling beautiful Oregon home), it was liberating to move to a place where people don’t know you, have any expectation or preconceived opinion. It was liberating to let go of many materialistic things and comforts that required so much protecting. It was liberating to sit down for a meal at a restaurant and not worry about the quality of the ingredients. I am grateful for these first world opportunities and being in Italy certainly keeps this in check as large waves of immigrants and refugees enter the country needing a safe place. As an individual, I quietly try to do my part while juggling family and business. I have a dream to live this life as long as I can. Only time will tell as businesses go up and down, as aging parents need more assistance and growing children turn into adults. I have this notion that I can share this feeling of freedom by dropping my walls for privacy and showing that life can be different. I've been told I am idealistic. I am. But I find that I am not alone. There are many who venture beyond a traditional work and lifestyle. I've heard their stories first hand as I now run in that circle. Even now, as I excitedly tell our story and share our treasures to others, but know that they don’t have the same enthusiasm. That's okay. Many have an appreciation or curiosity but not full comprehension of the deep impact it made on me and my family. We stretched our wings, went through growing pains and broke through barriers. We became liberated in a way we didn’t even know was possible and it has irrevocably changed us. It is a mindset and often can only be changed through real life, physical experience.
A liberating life is where you feel comfortable and you can be yourself. So whatever that is for you, it is yours and truly does not belong to anyone else. It doesn't have to be in a foreign country or be defined by an epic journey. You may have that feeling right in your hometown. As always, I invite you to take a break from your day to enjoy something special or to do something to remind of you that time you felt free. If you are in Oregon, drop by Fratelli Ponzi for an aperitivo, enjoy a wine flight or pick up some coffee and chocolate. We, me and my team at Fratelli Ponzi, are happy to be a part of your moment to day dream, to share knowledge, introduce to you something new, or simply to offer a nice place to relax. We know little things can make your day great!
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