Well, it’s another sunny day here in Italy where I live and, like most, today began with the idea to sit down in front of the PC and write. The “blog that never was” has persisted and remained empty throughout most of the Summer and Fall despite there being so much grist for the mill since March when this site got a new look.
But today, with September quickly coming to a close, I would like to share a few things before going off to the gym now.
If you’ve been following me on social media, you know that I spent six weeks this summer in the US with family. Yes, part of it for 3 gen: three generations (my 95 year old father, my son and I) kicking back and enjoying time together; but there was more.
In the language of Japanese management and organization philosophy, it was also a time for 3 Gen: time for me to go to the Gemba (my home), observe the Gembutsu (see and experience how my father is settling into his 90s after his short illness a couple of years back), obtain Genjitsu (facts about how he lives and is being supported) and for my brothers and I to all share our insights and solutions together for his ongoing care into his 100s.
It was an invaluable time for all of us and for me a concrete example of how listening is a fundamental skill for living happy lives. Mindfulness is an one of the most important tools we can develop for learning how to listen to ourselves and others, and it plays a vital role in nurturing and sustaining the relationships we have.
With the Labor Day weekend signaling the end of summer in America, it was time to get back to Italy and my life there.
Stepping out into the airport at Fiumicino is always the first reminder of being in the place that has been home for me for almost 30 years now. The sites, smells and sounds are so familiar, as well as, how my mind moves toward “liking” or “not liking” what I see and feel. Of course, everything is slightly off after a “red eye flight” across the Atlantic. Nevertheless, the stark contrast of the countryside along the Pontina going south is always another reminder that I am back.
These are not the rolling Tuscan hills one might think of when conjuring up images of Italy. Gone is the lush green of my hometown north of the New York City. In its place is the brown of summer droughts, overgrown grass and patches of scorched earth from the roadside fires I missed those past weeks. But being back holds the promise of other familiar things, like being with my wife and son, and revisiting the sea.
The sea is one of the greatest blessings of my life here, just a short bike ride away from my home. And it’s still a pleasure walking along the beach and even going for a swim in September. It is also a time of reconnecting, meeting people, hearing their stories, planning and dreaming a bit. September has been all of that for me, and shortly the sense of beginning again will be there too, and of settling back into the familiar rhythms of seeing students and teaching.
In October there will be a modest reboot at S4BT. For ten years, I enjoyed coaching and developing personnel there and I am very grateful for the opportunity to contribute there again. October will also be a time to launch live Facebook events, to meet people on-line who have been reading my posts and using my YouTube videos to explore practice. And a colleague and I will also introduce the Mindfulness protocol to a new group at Ospedale dei Castelli.
For now, the month of October is scheduled to come to a close with my participation at a Mindfulness Forum in association with the HRCI group in Rome. I will do a segment on “Mindfulness and language learning” at Bosch in Milan and hopefully have time to meet some old friends who live in the area. Phonemic awareness is into something I have been teaching for most of my professional life here in Italy and it is one of the things I mean when I talk about “applied Mindfulness” and Mindfulness “cross training.” I am looking forward to it.
And yet, through it all, looking back on these past few weeks and looking into the future, the in and out of our breath, and the expanding and contracting of our bodies are constant reminders of our changing natures and of the comings and goings of thoughts, feelings and experiences. Enjoy the show. This is really what it means to have our feet planting firmly on the ground.
So may this short sharing find you all well. And may there be occasions each day for gratitude and joy.