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  • Writer's pictureMark Tedesco

Our Italian Adventure. Puglia and California: What we are Learning

Updated: Jan 5

PART 75: It might be interesting to share how we pulled off living in Italy for part of the year. I will post some steps we took.

We live in Puglia in the summer and then back again in the winter, but soon to be spring and fall.

Step 1: Priorities. The decision-making process of establishing a life in Puglia required us to clarify our priorities. It would be much easier to remain in California and continue the calm and tranquil life that we established. Life in Palm Springs is much less stressful than in Los Angeles, where I lived and worked until recently.

But the question kept arising: is calm and peaceful enough?

What we wanted out of life was a question we couldn't escape, so we went on a quest to understand our priorities.

So far, we have come up with these priorities:

Step 2: Priority of relationships.

Investing in our relationships in California and Puglia.

Establishing a base in Europe that would become like home, I wanted something other than a nomad lifestyle.

Exploration and travel to areas we have never been to.

Coming to understand and also assimilate another culture and language (Italian).

Grow, let the experience transform us, and have a bigger life.

Step 3: Priorities and the News.

Until we moved to Puglia, I was a newsie. I felt like I had to keep up with every political or social event during the day to ensure the world wasn't falling apart! I didn't have much peace of mind during that period.

Being in Puglia and so distant from the day-to-day churning of news has diminished my desire to follow the news so closely. When we return to California, I look at news website headlines to get the gist of what is happening rather than watch hours of news.

Don't get me wrong; I am not advocating ignoring current events and giving power to those who abuse it. I am an avid voter, but Puglia has changed what I am willing to fill my mind with every day.

Living here shows me what I have power over: my own life.

Step 4: Take nothing for granted.

I am grateful for my 25 years as a high school teacher because the students have taught me so much.

I remember a day when I felt burdened by personal challenges and school politics. I was withdrawn and brooding that morning when I walked into the school. After I signed in, I walked in front of a group of special needs students in wheelchairs; they were 15 or 16 years old, smiling and chatting with one of their teachers.

I continued to my classroom, but the image of those kids remained in my mind. Every day was a challenge for them. Though the challenges I was going through remained, those faced by others gave me perspective and reminded me that even the everyday things, like health or the use of my limbs, are gifts. Somehow, my problems diminished.

Being able to live in Puglia, even for part of the year; being able to use it as a base as we explore other areas of Europe; being able to swim in the sea, climb mountains, or ride a bike through the countryside are all gifts that I do not want to take for granted.

Puglia is showing me that gratitude is a matter of perspective.

Step 5: Spontaneity.

I have to admit it: I like a plan. When my partner springs an idea on me, like, "Hey, would you like to hop in the car and drive to so and so," my response is usually like "No." I know I don't like spontaneity, but Puglia is changing this.

Some of our local friends in Puglia are not planners but steer their lives with a more spur-of-the-moment attitude. At first, I resisted, but when we started accepting some spontaneous dinner invitations or road trips, we realized that these ended up being some of the most beautiful experiences that we have had there.

So spontaneity can be a gift, and I am learning to be more open to what is beyond my plans, even while back in California.

Insights: Without a project or plan, our time in Puglia transforms our life in California. A new sense of gratitude, a changing set of priorities, and a sense of purpose and meaning in our daily lives are gifts from our time in this magical place.

More next time.

Now on sale for $2.99: Stories from Puglia: Two Californians in Southern Italy

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Ed Campanaro
Ed Campanaro
31. Dez. 2023
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What a great perspective to close out the year, and look ahead into the New Year, Mark. Thanks so much for sharing your priorities, many of which, well really all, hit home with us and our current life situation and life/residency evaluation process. They are all very important and key I believe to a fulfilling, meaningful, and giving life. I did get a kick out of Step 5 (spontaneity) and I are very much alike, and like you, one of my goals for 2024 is to seize opportunities and invitations that are more spontaneous. I have spent my entire career in planning mode, and it's really hard to let some of that go!!! Thanks again, and Happy New Year.

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Mark Tedesco
Mark Tedesco
01. Jan.
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Thank you! Living in Italy is showing me that life can be bigger than my best plans.

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