“The truth is that where you are at this moment in time is where you need to be. Your energy is needed right where you are. Nothing is being missed. Nothing has been overlooked. Nothing is ‘wrong.’ All is well.” -Molly McCord
I have dirty little secret. I’m a lifelong piner. I pine for things, usually places. As a child I wanted to see the world. I had (and still have) an exotic and adventurous cousin, Valerie from Brazil who used to visit countries across the globe and then would send me little dolls from each location. They would sit on my shelf and I would pine over them, wishing I could go too.
When I was six, I calculated that I needed exactly twelve years (first grade through twelfth grade) to leave my small hometown of Swansea , Massachusetts, before I could go off and have adventures.
As a college student in Boston (one hour away from my hometown was better than nothing) I pined to go abroad. Massachusetts College of Art and Design didn’t have a study abroad program set up yet back in the late 90’s so I went to the foreign country of Los Angeles for a semester after I turned twenty.
As a senior in my Film History class back in Boston, our professor mentioned an excellent book he was reading, Angela’s Ashes. I got my hands on it (he thought we didn’t listen to him) and even though the book is about the hardships the author faced in post World War II Limerick, Ireland, I felt pulled to go to that country. So I pined for Ireland. Within a few months I had graduated with a degree in painting (I know..) and headed off to Dublin with my temporary four-month visa. There I pined for a job that made use of my college degree. I got and quit seven jobs, mostly menial ones, in only four months’ time. By the time I moved on to Edinburgh, Scotland I at least learned that if you are just living somewhere temporarily, get the damn job, keep the damn job, pay your rent each week, feed yourself, try to be satisfied, and stop squirming all over the place.
A few months into the Scottish winter, my work visa for the UK was running out and though I pined for my Portuguese passport so I could continue having adventures in Europe, I had to wait for my mother, the daughter of Portuguese actually born in Portugal before I could get mine too. So I came back to the US for graduate school since I didn’t know what else to do with myself. I chose New York City since it was the most international place I could think of in the United States.
There, I met my now husband Michael, a German. We started to build a life in the area over the years there. I paid back most of my student loans, got a full time tenure-track teaching job at William Paterson University in New Jersey, and we’d even saved up money for a down payment on a house. But I was restless. I thought I must really have some fatal character flaw and that I really just needed to grow up already. I loved my job there by the way, and as far as I could tell, the University loved me back. I was just a few months from getting tenure at the ridiculous age of 29.
But 29 year-old females tend to pine for things. They go through an early midlife crisis apparently and I was no exception. I tried to stuff down my restless feelings, and halfheartedly suggested to my husband that we go to an Open House somewhere in Hackensack, NJ (or wherever it was..), all the while silently pining to myself to escape to a Mediterranean country. Then a miracle happened.
He said, “Hmm. Wouldn’t it be great if we could move to a Mediterranean country?”
So we pined together. It turned out happily enough, that I had family in Italy. The Italian Palanas hadn’t spoken to the American Palanas in about 60 years. They had had a falling out over one of our relatives getting into trouble at casinos in his new American locale and he had been sent BACK to Italy. At least, I think that’s what they were fighting about. But I had a website and my present-day, non-grudge holding Italian relatives had found it and had made contact. We rebooted the Palana family relationship and slowly my husband and I pined specifically for Italy out of the list of countries we had made.
One Friday night while waiting for Michael to come home from work, I lazily scanned the Internet to see, just for fun, if there were any jobs for English-speakers in Rome, which seemed like a good place for an expat to live. I browsed the jobs section of The American University of Rome’s website and saw a strange ad for a job where THEY were pining for a Professor who could teach across five or more fields in Multimedia. It would have been an absolutely ridiculous ad if it hadn’t been written exactly for me, someone who couldn’t commit to just one area of study. So without really being on the job market, I applied just for the heck of it.
Next week will be my nine year anniversary since I moved to Italy to teach at The American University of Rome. It all started during my first mid-life crisis. Now as I approach my first annual 39-th birthday in August, I may be on the verge of an actual midlife crisis. Or, I may just be the lifelong piner I’ve always been.
I’ve done well in Rome and I surely can’t complain. If you can make it HERE (not New York), you can make it anywhere. There were a brief few years when my sons were babies that I pined for the help of grandparents and my family back in the US and frantically wanted back in to my now, deeply appreciated hometown in Massachusetts.
I’m about to start a 1-2 year leave of absence from the University so I can focus on getting to those book, art, and online teaching projects that I’d been pining over this past year but was too busy to get around to. My husband, now with the UN’s World Food Program has been pining for a new assignment in a WFP duty station country and yet we’ve been reassigned to Rome the last five years in a row, just when we were sure we’d be moving on.
But we think.. we really do, that we WILL be moving on within the next 6-9 months or so. Just where and when that will be is anyone’s guess.
This morning I downloaded a free sample of a book that sounded like a balm for this restless soul. It’s called “Conscious Messages. Spiritual Wisdom and Inspiration for Awakening by Molly McCord.” And somehow this passage made its way under my nose as I was sipping my morning espresso today:
“I claim my power in all areas of my life now. I claim the highest possible growth for myself at this time. I am acting with my full powerful here and now. I am the highest expression of my Light now and I share it with Love for the good of All.”
And it was the perfect message for me today where I am and where I happen to find myself. And just like in the message, I decided to share my little morning moment with you via this blog post.
So if you are reading this, perhaps it’s the perfect message for you today as well.
If you would like to read more stories and insights like this, please download a free sample from my new book: Free At Last: Live, Love, & Work Abroad as a 21st Century Global Citizen