More than four years ago now my husband and I began a journey. This past June of 2018 we purchased an apartment (condo) in the city of Lodz, Poland. Just in case you’re wondering, I do not speak the language. Well, that is not entirely true. I can say hi, bye, kiss me, I love you and where is the toilet; which gets me pretty much anything I need. If you know anything about Poles these few words will take you a long way.
I have learned many things about myself during this time on the road and have observed where I hold myself back and where I rentlessly bound forward.
The interactions I have had concerning the place in which I call home, at least for now, has been nothing short of fascinating. When people find out that we haved moved to Lodz, Poland from San Diego, California, their eyes widen in wonder. Many Poles are not able to even travel to the United States due to the cost of the Visa they need. The images they have painted in their minds is one of white, wide sandy beaches, palm trees and endless ocean views that keep them dreaming of a time when they would be able to experience it for real. So they look at me with their heads cocked like a cute little puppy and shake their heads in disbelief.
I ask, “what does America look like” in their mind, in one word. Each time the answer is either “bright” or “opportunity.”
It’s my experience that most people feel that way about American. And for Poles having been trampled on for centuries, the words “bright” or “opportunity” is certainly a fair response when looking at America. But today, Poland is an economic power house with a public transportation system second to none (even for EU standards), endless opportunites (although the Poles struggle to see them), great food and yes of course, vodka (afterall the potatoes are the best – which makes the vodka “gluten free” – BONUS!). The grass is always greener, do you think?
Now, let’s reverse this. When they ask me the same question, “give me one word to describe Poland” my initial reaction comes from my childhood and the word “dark” comes blurting out of my mouth. I remember being in school and watching the news about the “iron curtain”. All of the images were black and white, so that is where my thoughts go. To many Americans that have never traveled to Poland, their response is generally the same. It’s dark. The sun doesn’t shine, people are dressed in black, it’s scary, and the people have empty blank stares.
It’s the images from the movie, “Schindler’s List” or the horrific stories of the Holocaust and of families being separated and never heard from again. It’s about loss of life and loss of control. But that isn’t the Poland of today, yet many of us are still plagued by the images or stories we heard as children. How do we go about letting go of these images and prejudices and begin to build new friendships and paths?
Images are saved in our memory to keep us out of harms way, always on the ready in the fight or flight mode. Yet, often times, these images or memories we have held onto for dear life, no longer serve us and actually end up hindering us from doing something different, learning something new, experiencing a new way of life.
As I travel the globe and settle into my new home, I challenge myself and I will do the same to you; to look toward the light. The next time a negative thought crosses your mind-take notice, a new opportunity crosses your path and your turn the other way, or a chance to get into dialogue with a stranger represents itself and you pretend your busy or looking at your smartphone; grab onto it, take the opportunity, make a different choice and say “yes”. Turn the dark into light by changing one thought, one word, one day and interaction at a time.
When the negative images, voices or thoughts creep up, take a moment to pause and intervene with these questions or thoughts:
Acknowledge your negative images, voices or suspicions. Just notice them without judgement.
Take note of your surroundings. Are you in danger or are you just about to experience something new and are a little nervous or unsettled? Thank your negative mind, we all have one, and tell it that you are “ok” and that you are choosing a new experience.
Then LEAP OR RUN torward the chance to do something that scares you. To do something that will begin to replace the negative images that hold each and everyone of us back in some way shape or form.
Because, once you choose to do something different you can never go back to the way you were. It’s never “dark.”
Leaping affectionately toward the light!
P.S. Finding it hard to dispel those negative thoughts? Try doing something different by learning about the power of intention with my FREE self-guided, on-line program: Live Life Fearlessly Through the Power of Intention. Take the leap, dare to build the life of your dreams. It’s just a click away.