One Year Later: Eat, Play, Live

Viaggio Di Vanessa,

Viaggio Di Vanessa: One Year Later

I still can’t get past the reality that it has been one year since my life changing trip to Italy. How has time passed so quickly, yet there is a good story with how it passed so quickly.

“So just sit right here and I’ll tell you the story of how I became the princess of time passing.” Ok, so it’s not exactly the rap from The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, but close.

But, seriously, all jokes, pop culture quotes, sarcasm and witticisms aside – okay, well not all – but, here is what you do not know. I needed this trip badly, so much so that I’m afraid of what would have happen to me had I not gone to Italy alone for two weeks. I was a lost soul; I had no idea I was suffering from a long depression.

A week before my viaggio, several friends and my mother had a kind of intervention with me. My friends and mother told me to take the vacation and that when I returned I was going to have to seek professional help to get better. You know when hear the truth, that “ah ha moment” has a ring to it. I was depressed and had noticed it, but I was too busy taking care of other people’s problems and not my own.

This was more than a vacation, I needed to search deep within and find the root of the problem. I knew that I was not going to come back the same person.

There is something about spending time alone in another country that changes you. I could not lie to myself. I was alone with my thoughts, no one to communicate with, and I cried alone in my hotel room for hours the first few days while I was in Italy. I cried everyday for two weeks, although each day there was a little less crying.

I walked everywhere, my feet had blisters, yet I walked to understand my environment and watch how these other people lived. What did they do so right? What was I missing?

The Italians live in the moment. Each day is a gift! Understand what you have been given. Eat because you are hungry. Walk because the weather is nice and the time alone helps you to think. Drink wine and limoncello because it’s 2pm and you can! Don’t worry life will still go on if you are late. Pasta is good for you. The Italians don’t care! I walked everywhere and lost weight, too!

Shit my hotel room in Florence was kitty-corner to Dante’s birth place. Hell, he wrote the epic poem, Divine Comedy. If I couldn’t find inspiration sleeping next door to the guy who wrote about going to Hell, I was in trouble!

Each day the blisters on my feet grew bigger. I could have let this destroy my trip, but I walked more each day, ignoring the pain. And, each day I grew stronger.

After two weeks, I knew I had to make a plan for what I was going to do upon my return to the U.S. The day I was leaving Italy from the Milan airport, I decided to write my manifesto.
Do you remember the scene in the movie Jerry Maguire, when Tom Cruise was feverishly writing his “mission statement?” This was me. I wrote on cocktail napkins, “Welcome to American Airlines” notepads and even drink coasters. I drank Diet Coke, ate handfuls of some Italian version of Chex Mix, and finally when I arrived at home I had my life mapped out in a stack of several inch high paper with crumb finger prints on all over.

My Jerry Maguire manifesto, in a nut shell, went something like this:
– Quit my job!
– Admit my mistakes!
– Get up off my ass and do something about it!

And, so I arrived home and set out to change my life. Four days after I came home, I quit my job of eleven years. I had no money, but I stepped out on faith.

“Sometimes your only available transportation is a leap of faith.”
— Margaret Shepard

One year later, I have a new job and I work with people who support me. I have a boss who encourages my education, and gives me the freedom I need to become a great hair colorist. And, I don’t let the small stuff get me down.

I was always told that my happiness would lead to a new relationship. That is not was being happy is about. You see it took me years, and I mean years to understand that I’m the happiest when I’m creative and when I speak up for what is on my mind. I’m happy when I walk into my house because it loves me; it represents all that is good about me.

Taking a vacation or experiencing any life changing moment is not about becoming better to find a soul mate! That Eat, Pray, Love fantasy shit is for birds!

When I was in Italy, I ate gelato everyday for one week, I stopped because it made me sick to eat gelato every day. But, I had done it because I was in Italy, and that’s what I thought I was supposed to do. That’s a lot like life. I had been doing what I thought was expected of me. I had been chasing this ideal that had nothing to do with who I was.

I came back home stronger and more powerful than I had ever envisioned myself. When I gave up society’s way of how I was supposed to live, that is when I truly started living. I learned this from the Italians.

Eat the damn pasta because it’s good! Walk a little everyday because it’s good. And, drink wine several times a week, not only because it’s good, but because it makes life better!

Oh and by the way, eight months after I came home, I interviewed for my dream job and I got it! I am now a Joico Hair Color Educator.

Now go live your life a little better, just like the Italians do.
Eat, Play, Live!

Click On Images For A Closer Look

Vanessa Bastian works as a hair stylist at Carnelian Salon on South Lake Avenue in Pasadena, CA. She also works as an educator to other stylists in hair color theory for Joico Hair Care.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

* Copy This Password *

* Type Or Paste Password Here *

%d bloggers like this: