This week I kicked off my first learning session at Martha Beck Training and started developing the new routine that will be my life for the foreseeable future. I won’t bore you with the arcane details, however I did want to share that I will now be posting a blog every Wednesday to share my journey and provide coaching inspiration along the way!
Before I dive into lessons learned along the way in my coaching education, I wanted to share some insights into life I had while traveling in Italy. While there are many blogs and books that share the splendor of Italian cooking and culture, this blog post is NOT about the highlights, rather the creative reactions to traveling blunders. I choose this topic because it coincided well with one of the 8 core values of Martha Beck’s coaching curriculum: “We must exist in perpetual creative response to whatever exists, responding as best we can TO THIS MOMENT.” -Martha Beck
Our trip started in the wonderful city of Venice, where we arrived dreadfully sleep deprived and in need of rest from the travel experience. After taking an hour nap, we ventured out into Venice’s labyrinth of narrow and winding streets. One of the first sites we encountered was San Marco’s Square. The buildings that surrounded this beautiful square were intoxicating, lost in all their glory I accepted a rose from a nice Indian man. In my sleep deprived haze I thought, how lovely, the Italian people really are generous. Of course a moment later the man was hitting up my husband for cash. Ryan, also sleep deprived, gave the guy 5 Euros and I a death stare. I responded with, wow—5 Euros for a rose, didn’t you have anything less. For a moment we were at an impasse, both equally culpable and frustrated about getting robbed of 5 Euros for a rose.
Having the opportunity to choose our response, we decided to find humor and giggle every time we saw someone else carrying roses for the rest of our trip (there were a lot of suckers out there like us:) ). I didn’t necessarily think I was creatively responding to the universe at the time, but I did respond differently than I would have in the past. Resulting in a lifelong memory, rather than a resent ridden first night.
Tossing out 5 Euros at a tourist trap, isn’t the worst fate—however missing your bus to get to the train station can create a little more unrest. Enter situation #2, where language barriers and misunderstandings of bus pick-up spots, quickly culminated into the need to determine whether or not we wanted to miss a pre-paid train to Florence or drag our luggage across the cobble stoned city of Modena for 2 miles.
We opted for the walk and entered the station a hot mess and with little energy left to empathize with each other. On the train, I sat in my assigned seat and Ryan stood in a doorway. I had no idea why he continued to stand there, frankly I was annoyed. Then he came and sat by me and told me he had just given a sad fellow train rider a rose because she had to leave her husband in Modena. Sweaty and exhausted, he wanted to show someone else love when she felt she had lost it for the moment.
How could I stay annoyed at this man? We were both drained, but instead of letting it continue to dampen our day, Ryan inspired us both to follow the flow and continue to give the roses away. Later that day we also met a wonderful lady from Australia, destined to receive the last rose and bestow upon us great conversation, including stories about dingoes that Ryan and I continue to crack up about.
Finally, upon arriving to Florence, one of the main things I had on my tourist check list left to see was the statue of David. Growing up having seen it in pictures, it felt like the quintessential statue to gaze in wonder at and I was excited to see if it lived up to its popularity. Bright eyed and a little wet from morning showers, we arrived at the Accademia di Belle Arti di Firenze and were met with a commercial tour guide selling “an experience” to skip the lines, see David and take an hour tour through the museum for only $45 a person. To my right was the other offering, a line of hundreds of soaking people with umbrellas snaking the building.
Decisions, decisions. Do I pay $90 to see a naked man statue, similar to the lot I had sufficiently seen in a plethora of piazzas or save the money and let go of the dream that this statue would validate my Italian vacation?
Suffice to say, I do not have any glorious photos of that masterpiece of Renaissance sculpture, however I do have great memories of Leonardo Da Vinci’s inventions from his namesake museum, a breath taking landscape view of the city of Florence and a wonderful dinner and Irish Pub Crawl in Fiesole. The day that started out with a crushing commercialized blow, delivered countless opportunities to see beauty in unforeseen locales.
In the end, traveling is akin to life itself. We all come to the experience with preconceived dreams and expectations. What waits for us is a continuous opportunity to creatively respond to what you are offered at the moment. If you foster your ability to fully accept the options available to you, as the ones destined for your growth, you will find yourself increasingly enjoying the ride.