How We Moved to Italy – Part Three: Dream Board

A few years back, I got hooked on the “dream board” trend. This cultural phenomenon was a part inspirational and part goal setting exercise in which you cut out magazine pictures of things you wanted to accomplish and combined them into a collage. My collage was covered with pictures that symbolized our family living in Italy.

I kept the Dream Board out for a while, but eventually packed it away. It’s probably still in my memorabilia somewhere. But the dream of living with my family in Italy was still at the top of my mind. Every now and then, I’d make a little doodle of five stick figures and a little stick dog standing on an Italian bridge, or in front of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, or next to the Colosseum.

It took a looong time, but then – miracle of miracles – we got the job offer that would move us to Italy. I guess the dream board worked. At least, at that point, I hoped it did. We weren’t there yet.

Throughout the long five-month waiting game that preceded our move to Italy, there were more than a few times that I worried this unbelievable opportunity might disappear. To keep myself sane, I kept sketching those little doodles. If you see it, you can manifest it, right? Hopefully?

There was one image I sketched more than all the others. It was a picture of us standing in this checkerboard piazza along the Livorno waterfront called Mascagni Terrace (Terrazza Mascagni). Sometimes, I’d doodle my whole family. Other times, I’d just doodle my feet standing there on the checkerboard tiles. I could practically feel the cool marble tile. I promised myself, if we made it there, I’d take of my shoes and feel those tiles for real.

And when everything finally fell into place, that’s exactly what I did.

I don’t know how much of this journey I can attribute to dream boards or notebook doodles. Some people swear that if you envision it, you can will it into existence. In my experience, this belief can feel empowering, but when everything goes sideways (as life sometimes does) it can leave you piling unnecessary blame on yourself and others.

Still, I can’t deny that there is something powerful about envisioning the life you want and committing it to the page. Exactly why this is, I can’t say. Maybe it’s simply solidifying the goal in your mind and applying that dedication to future decisions. Or perhaps there really is some mystical force at play.

Either way, why not? All it takes is a few minutes and a scrap of paper.

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