Originally posted September 30, 2015

Sempre Felice! Capisce?
 
Five years ago, almost to the day, I traveled with my mom and dad, my 4 siblings and their spouses to Italy.  My dad was taking us to see the Picchietti family home in Modena where his father grew up.
 
I had traveled quite a lot over the years, but this was my first time in Italy.  It was weird how comfortable I felt there, even not knowing the language (except for my ‘Italian for Dummies’ phrase book!) I truly felt like I ‘was home with my people.’ I am 100% Italian so I supposed that makes sense! 
 
My life at the time was experiencing some major changes and I had some time to reflect on what I wanted for me and my future.  I had set an intention that I would return, in my 50th year, for a self-imposed sabbatical of sorts, celebrating what I was to accomplish over the next 5 years.  Little did I know exactly what that meant at the time.
 
In those 5 years, I experienced great loss and great strides.  My sweet beagle Bella passed in May. My father passed in September, exactly a year after our trip.  My best friend from college past away that following January.  I was ending a 17 year marriage. I was suffocating under a mound of debt.  Also in those 5 years, I completed my year-long life coach certification with iPEC. I moved from a staff job with Chicago Jazz Philharmonic to the Board of Directors, while starting my own coaching practice.  I became a coach trainer for iPEC.  I chipped away at the debt becoming debt-free (except for my house) in 2.5 years.  I severed relationships that were no longer serving me. I built relationships that were inspiring, fun and fueling.  I was now at the cause of my life (no longer at the affect of it!), having clarity of what I wanted and achieving it.
 
I just returned from spending nearly a month traveling through Italy.  Something that although I set the intention for 5 years earlier, honestly wondered how it would be possible. Even after I booked the trip, it didn’t seem real.
 
Three of my dear friends joined me on this adventure, or avventura, if you will. 😉  But it was so much more than a trip to Italy.  I was overwhelmed with gratitude that my life had changed so much that I could even take this trip.  I was overwhelmed with gratefulness that I had friends that would take the time and spend the money to do this with me.  I felt my dad with me there, often, as we made friends at every turn. Everyone looked like a relative. 
 
(Yes, this is a selfie with nuns!! They were adorable!)
 
Although my actual birthday was in February, my friends, especially Megan, wanted us to celebrate every day, and we did!  We had Italians and tourists wishing me Buon Compleanno (Happy Birthday) and singing Tanti Auguri, which means, “Many Good Wishes,” throughout the country.  We met wonderful people along the way and bottom-line, it was extremely joyful.
 
It was an incredibly hot and crowded train ride on our 2nd to last day where the message became clear to me. 
 
The train was full of high-school aged kids in early afternoon.  It was so hot, we were sweaty, standing with our collective 400 pounds of luggage, and feeling a little bit claustrophobic.  Wanting a diversion, I asked a group of kids standing next to us (in my brilliant Italian! Of course, I’m kidding!) why they weren’t in school?  We ended up chatting with this delightful group of kids for an hour.  They were adorable.  We were laughing and helping each other with language, and singing.  It was quite a moment.  I had said to them that they were very happy in Italian…’molto felice.’  And this girl looked at me with a warm smile and simply said, ‘sempre.’  Which means always.  Sempre felice.  Always happy. On a hot and steamy train that was about an hour late and kept stopping…sempre felice. 
 
I giggled to myself thinking that it was a choice.  What I share with my clients, my students, the voice in my own head…it’s a choice. And I choose sempre felice!  Is it that easy?  Is that why I was so comfortable for nearly a month, making friends wherever we went? I thought this was a trait of my immediate family.  We call it having good verve.  But it would certainly make sense that it goes all the way back to my ancestors.           
 
(September 2015, Italy Train Ride. FYI – I’m Mina!)
 
People often ask what is the key to happiness or to sempre felice.  And well…it is a choice. Not to say it’s always easy, but it can be.  Take a look at what’s getting in your way of sempre felice.  You can choose to complain and moan and sweat on the train, or you can choose to make new friends and spread some joy.  What you get in return is priceless! 
 
Here’s to your Sempre Felice!
Lesley Picchietti, CPC, ACC, ELI-MP
 
 
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