Sunday, July 31, 2011
My Last Day in Florence

As amazed as I am to write this – I am ready to go home! I want to see Zorro and my cats. I want to wake up to my beautiful courtyard. To look out my office window and gaze at my lush surrounds, my paradise. I am ready to create my community in Napa. And I’m ready to tell my Phoenix community that I moved to Napa.  That’s huge progress for me in two weeks.  And as for Florence – I saw and experienced all I wanted to experience.  That’s a great feeling.  It’s a better feeling to know I want to go home and put all I’ve learned into play.

After breakfast, I took a long stroll around Florence.  I walked through the markets and purchased the last of my gifts.  I also bought a gift for myself – a fabulous pair of shoes!  I enjoyed the day and basked in the feeling of fulfillment.  There were no sites left for me to see.  I felt complete.  So, I headed back to my room to start the arduous process of packing.  I bought a bag to help transport all of my goodies home.  I bartered for it on the market and was thrilled with the purchase.  The bag was covered by representations of all the things I love for their elegance, sophistication, fun, writing and art: the Saturday Evening Post photos, Audrey Hepburn, Michelangelo’s David, and more.

I started reading the book my friend Bev gave me – The Ultimate Secrets of Total Self Confidence by Dr. Robert Anthony.  She said this was a life changer for her, so I was looking forward to discovering my own insights from the book.  I personally think the title is misleading because the book is about so much more than self confidence.  For instance, recently I’ve been trying to express my growing understanding of the importance of “awareness” and I haven’t been able to effectively articulate my thoughts.  When I read this book, it completely explained the concept of awareness as I had grown to understand it, but had not been able to explain it.   I believe awareness is a major key to understanding life, where you are in life, how you got here, how you can grow and reach your goals.  It also helps you become more accepting of others in your life while releasing the desire to change them.   I think each of us has someone in our lives we would like to change, or maybe just tweak a bit.

According to Dr. Anthony, your “awareness can be defined as the clarity with which you consciously and unconsciously perceive and understand everything that effects your life.  It is the sum total of your life experiences… Your present level of awareness indicates your moods, attitudes, emotional reactions, prejudices, habits, desires, anxieties, fears, aspirations, and goals.  … Awareness also determines your concept of reality.” I think this is an important key to better understanding your current position in life and how you can change, if you so desire.

He went on to explain that personal reality “is the sum total of your present level of awareness:  values, beliefs, and concepts – right or wrong – that you embrace right now.  As your perception is always colored and influenced by awareness, if your awareness is faulty, so is your perception – even if you are sure you are right.”  And why is this important? Because “every decision you make and every action you take is based on your present level of awareness.”

We each have our own awareness – the filters by which we perceive the world.  No two people have the same awareness since we each have our own unique life experiences.  “The key to change is to accept other people’s behavior without feeling that you have to ‘set them right.’  You must allow them the personal freedom to live according to their own individual Awareness, however distorted and faulty it may be.  To do this, you must learn to love and accept yourself first.  If you are still judging yourself, you will feel compelled to judge others, thereby resisting their reality and present level of awareness.”

Dr. Anthony asserts that the cause of inharmony in our relationships predominately stems from imposing our values on other people.  We’ve decided what is right or best based on our filters and we impose our judgments on others.  This brings up two important points.  The first is that we cannot alter the belief system of another person if that person’s awareness is not ready to accept change.  Second, no one is required to change simply because you want them to change.  When you want someone to change, you are “resisting their reality and desiring to see things not as they are, but as you would like them to be.”  This is value judging

This next statement really hit home with me: Everybody is acting in perfect conformance in this moment based on their current awareness of their life.  People are doing “what their present level of awareness permits them to do – no more, no less.”  This allowed me to look at the actions of others through a different filter.  It allowed me to have the understanding, or the belief, that everyone, including myself, is behaving to the best of their abilities according to their current level of awareness.  In that instant with that belief, I could release judgment, of myself and others, as I accepted the efforts of their actions.

I’ve been pondering these thoughts as I walked for one last time along the Arno river, listened to musicians playing at the Ponte Vecchio, and wandered through the Uffizi corridor among the greats and soon-to-be greats.  Perhaps they would impart some wisdom and discernment related to these topics and more. I believe these are important concepts to understand to reach a higher level of self awareness and personal development.  And perhaps more important, I believe these are concepts that need to be shared, taught and grasped at a global level if we want to find harmony where there is currently chaos, war and famine.  It is only through acceptance that we can find respect and from respect, we can find solutions to complicated issues.

And for the perfectionists out there, it will be through our mistakes and willingness to make mistakes that we grow and discover new levels of awareness.  We push through our filters when we challenge the boundaries; make mistakes as we enter unchartered territory; and receive the unforeseen gift of expanded awareness.  It’s from our mistakes that we can embrace the ensuing lessons and grow

This book was a powerful written confirmation of all that I’ve been learning through experience over the last several months. I appreciate Dr. Anthony’s articulation of awareness and the many other concepts the book addresses.  I smile as I realize the perfection of my choice to bring this book with me to Italy.  Beverly told me this is the best book she ever read and she stepped into her power after reading it.  After reading it, I understand why.