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Lessons of 2021

Updated: Jan 2, 2022

I sat with my thoughts on all that happened in 2021.

It was a year that I thought was going to be the beginning of Truly Italy. And it was. In a different way.

My vision still is to bring people together and truly be present in this world.

Here's a recap of 2021 through my eyes:

1. Listened to my gut. (left many relationships that didn't serve me)

By the end of December 2020, I realized that I was following a path that was not mine to follow. I had been sucked into wanting to belong to a group of amazing, ambitious women when in the end I wasn't meant to do or pursue what I was attempting to do.

I got lost.

2020 seemed to have put me into a trance that put me back about $10,000 that I consciously wanted to spend at the time.

And now I say to myself, if it doesn't feel like your path, it isn't and trust that.

My gut was my compass as I rang in the new year 2021. I broke up the pattern of following these women on a path that wasn't mine. I still have so many of them in my life, in my heart and truly hope they are happy and well.

My gut gave me the courage to say, "hey, wait a minute, Katie, what about Italy and your love of it? Where did that passion go?"

I listened to it. I followed it. And thank god, the divine, my angels, the Universe for helping me realize that I knew what I was doing all along. Italy is my destiny. It always was.

2. Started my podcast- Florence & Me

Florence & Me became my message to myself and the world that when your gut tells you something, you need to continue to trust it. Even if you feels like it is taking forever to reach your goal. I started it in February 2021. And since then, I've had over 500 podcast downloads. And I know it's not just my Dad listening. So thank you all!

I start the podcast with the story of how study abroad opened my eyes to the world and to my love, Florence, Italy. I tell many more stories on how I tried to become an Italian citizen through my Nana and how I successfully and somewhat easily became a resident of Florence within a year of living there permanently. My gut and the universe knew that the timing was just right. If you are someone who has an urge to move abroad, live abroad, study abroad or just follow your gut, listen to Florence & Me where ever you listen. I believe it will give you the strength to start something new and listen to your intuition.

3. Got clearer on my vision for Truly Italy

My vision became clearer once I started Florence & Me Podcast. I feel like I'm talking to myself when I turn on the mic and start telling my stories. My vision is born out of my love and obsession of travel and learning.

After coming on a retreat with me, you’ll feel refreshed, grounded, and full of stories to share about your travels. My wish for you on a Truly Italy Retreat is to be fully present and immerse yourself in each event, adventure and experience.

I’m an Italian-American insider that knows how to travel in and around the small corners of Italy. I supply you with knowledge, insight and understanding of the Italian culture as I’ve lived in Italy as a resident for many years. These Italian Travel Retreats will open your eyes to the true nature of what it means to be Italian. I want to share Italy with those who love adventure and excitement.

Those who want to travel somewhere to learn about the culture and have their eyes open to a new world, Join me in 2022, Italy is calling, are you going answer?

4. Took 2 trips in 2 months (Key West and Sedona)

Stefano and I decided that we needed to get away in 2021. Luckily my parents have a timeshare that allows us to see other places in the States. We chose Key West and Sedona.

Key West has been on our list since 2019. That trip was one of the best. We didn't hold back. We enjoyed each minute, each moment. I didn't get anxious about money because we had saved for this trip and Sedona. Key West had me feeling grateful to be alive. I had never felt so present on a vacation in a long time.

Sedona on the other hand was, well, a bit emotional. If you don't know, Sedona is a place that has vortexes, spiritual awakeness, and extremely high mountains to climb (both physical and emotional). I was extremely emotional the whole time. I had my inner child screaming at certain times. Thanks to my friend Nicole, who knows the ins and outs of Sedona, spent the week showing us some of the most breathtaking places I've ever seen. Thank you for that, Nicole.

5. Father in law was rushed to hospital: time is fleeting

At the same time we were heading to Sedona, Stefano's dad, was rushed to the hospital. He had been going through chemo in 2020 but in 2021 he seemed to have turned a corner until May. My emotions were running on overdrive that whole week. It was a completely different vibe while visiting Sedona. I was on high alert for possible bombs or attacks.

This life is short. In the midst of my worry, doubt, fear of what was to come with my father in law, I searched for a way within myself to live for the moment. It was hard because guilt set in. Something my inner child knows all too well. Thus began our decision to make our first trip back to Italy after a global pandemic.

6. Went to Italy in July 2021 - Visit family & friends

Stefano made the decision at the beginning of June that we had to make the trip back. He got approval from his boss and we bought our tickets the beginning of June 2021. I fell into all the emotions I usually feel when planning to go and visit my love, Italy. I was scared, nervous, uncertain even more because of the pandemic.

I prepared ourselves with all the precautions of the pandemic. We took two tests (PCR and rapid), we completed the DPLF (Digital Passenger Locator Form) and our vaccine cards in hand. It went smoothly (apart from our cancelled second flight on the way). Overall the trip was good. However next trip (we say this every time) family will be coming to us. Where ever we are. We drove way too much to meet up with family and it took a toll on Stefano. It was nice to be with his Dad and also be there for my best friend, Simone. His mom suddenly passed away 2 days before we arrived. I know the Universe put us there at the right time to be there for those that needed us.

7. September in Chianti, Tuscany and Wanderful Retreat with Chelsea

When the opportunity was presented to me, I felt my gut say:


Chelsea had put it out there that she needed at least one more person for her retreat in September. I had already cancelled my retreat in Puglia due to the pandemic, so I was free to travel.

Once I told Chelsea I was in and after a long discussion with Stefano, I was ready to go back to Italy. Twice in one year! I've never traveled twice to Italy since moving back in 2013. The power that comes from traveling solo, especially as a woman, is undescribable. It was one of the best decisions I made this year regarding my business.

I felt empowered and on the course to build this business out of nothing. Truly Italy benefited from this trip. I can't wait to make more connections. I learned so much from her and how she runs her retreats. I'm grateful that I got to experience it. I hope to join another one in the future.

Castiglion Fiorentino, Cortona, Pienza, Montefioralle, Badia a Passignano, and Greve in Chianti were the places we visited. All of which gave us great gifts to share with our clients on future retreats.

We (Chelsea and I) found amazing places to visit, drink at and eat at with a group of Italophiles like us. We did great work, Chels! Can't wait til our next recon adventure.

8. Hired a web design and branding team for my website

Another gut reaction I had when I saw a post on LinkedIn from a company called Virtuwell Balance.

While I was traveling in Tuscany in September, this group of amazing women were working on rebranding my business and creating a clean cut website for me. I was so impressed with how they worked together. It went smoothly and yet again, I listened to my gut and it turned out incredibly well.

If you are looking for rebranding assistance, logo creation, or a brand new website for your business. I HIGHLY recommend Shayah and the Virtuwell Balance company.

Thank you for all the support ladies!!

9. Took on more at the Country Club

Not a lot of you know, I'm a Fitness Director at a local country club. This job gives me the means to follow my passion, Italy. As 2021 came to close, I started creating more activities, classes for the members. I have attracted a huge following at the fitness center. Something I am incredibly proud of.

10. Created and held a successful Wellness Retreat

In late November, I held a Wellness Retreat for the members at the country club. It was my first organized retreat. And there were rave reviews. I'm so excited to say, that our retreats in Tuscany will be even more incredible thanks to my partner, Italy.

Some final thoughts...

This past year opened my eyes to what I'm capable of. From building my business to creating a following in my community.

It's important to live in the moment. I learned that life is better in the moment. We live our lives worrying about the future or focusing on the past. But the present is where a lot of us (me included) forget to live.

When you gut gives you a nudge, listen to it.

Take the leap and the net will appear - John Burroughs

It doesn't mean that you can't have a plan B. You don't need to spend money for an expensive coach.

All you need is action. Take a step. Pivot. Jump. Just move.

Late 2020, I talked about how I was following the wrong path. I was in someone else's shoes and it felt... wrong. Listen to your body. Listen to your gut. When it feels wrong, it probably is.

I took a lot of nature walks in 2020 and 2021. Even while in Italy, I made a point to look around, be present with my surroundings and thank God, the Universe I was able to see the beauty around me. I'm so grateful for these past two years of growth and transformation.

The most important thing is how you feel with yourself. It doesn't matter what social media platform says or doesn't say. Before social media, people expressed themselves in present life. There was no need to create curated reels or videos or posts. You were you. And either you tried to fit in or you yearned to stand out.

No one else's opinion matters. Period. If you are building a business like me or just sharing your art work, what matters is:

Are you proud of it? Does it help people? Are you passionate about it?

Go forth in 2022 being you for YOU. Salute e Buon Anno Nuovo!

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