Your Mindset Is a Choice

I’ve returned from my amazing trip filled with inspiration, insight, and more eager to write than ever. There is one thing I feel compelled to share. It’s no surprise that I’m a firm believer in living with a positive mindset, but you have to realize that is a choice I make every single day with every single situation I encounter. Contrary to what one might think, I too have to put in the daily work to manifest abundance, and honestly, sometimes I fail. However, I do try to ask myself is this the worst that can happen? That one question puts me in check fairly quickly. 

As I recalled certain situations, I realized that many people may take bumps in the road and let them dictate their day, or moreover, their trip. I had quite the journey to get to Lake Como the first day. 2 flights, 1 train, and a 2-hour ferry finally got me to the steps of Menaggio. I wasn’t anticipating this trek, but I found the beauty in discovering little towns along the way that I might not have if it wasn’t for the multiple modes of transportation. It allowed me to be mindful of the moment and set the precedence of the typical small town Italiano lifestyle and slow way down. Once I finally reached my ultimate destination I was beyond grateful, and the journey to get there was part of the experience.

I enjoyed many highs of my trip like having an afternoon local beer while sitting in the Piazza, which overlooks the beautiful lake. I went hiking to the next town over, and stumbled upon a desolate area to access the water. One evening, I enjoyed gelato while listen to live music on a perfect summer night. Moments like this were in abundance and it was quite impossible to let anything damper my mood. With that said, I was tested by the Universe on multiple occasions; most I didn’t realize at the moment because of my positive outlook.

One event for certain made me decide how I was going to let the outcome effect the totality of my trip. As I left the beautiful lakeside town and boarded the Milan bound train, I realized about 5 minutes in I didn’t have my cell phone. Frantically searching my backpack twice over, it was not there. Did the guy sitting across from me snatch it while I was putting my luggage above? Is it somewhere deep in the crevices of my bag, hidden with the oodles of receipts? I thought back to the last time I had it - I carelessly left it on the bench at the station. I knew I had to go back and retrieve it; not because I’m some selfie obsessed smart phone girl, but because it had my accommodation info, train tickets, and the only access I had to the outside world. I got off at the next stop and quickly re-boarded the train heading back to where I just came from. Keep in mind, I said my train ticket was on my phone, so now I’m riding this train without a validated ticket, and anyone who has been to Europe knows that this can be a recipe for angry conductors and hefty fines.

The entire time back I imagined my phone sitting on the bench right where I left it. I wasn’t going to waste any of my energy on what I was going to do if it was gone, because I know my thoughts become things. Luckily, my fate bypassed the ticket checker and I got off at the Verenna stop. I walked into the café connected to the station and asked if anyone had turned in a cell phone. They advised I would have to wait until the ticket office opened back up in an hour. I sat down and decided to enjoy this part of the process, having a cold draft beer until they re-opened. After all I have no phone, no internet, no distractions.

The office re-opened after their lunch break. I asked the lady at the counter about my phone, and with a sound of delight she said “Ahhh, yes”. I immediately found relief and then she continued to say, “the conductor who found it took it with him and he is not coming back to Varenna today”. She made a phone call to track down the conductor’s whereabouts and told me I would need to get on a train to Colico. She didn’t have a name for him or description; my instructions were to simply get off the train and wait at the station until he noticed me from the picture on the background of my phone. This did not sound promising at all, but I didn’t have an alternative.

I did as instructed, heading as far north as possible to Colico. As the train entered the station the anticipation heightened. I exited the train and immediately locked eyes with a uniformed conductor. I hand gestured a phone and it appeared from behind his back. I was beyond thankful and tried to give him whatever Euros I had in my purse, but he refused to take them, and stated “this is part of my job”. The long lost idea of humanity was restored. I now was able to start my journey back to Milan with my cell phone in hand. This excursion subtracted 5 hours of my day planned in Milan, not to mention, delayed me from meeting the Airbnb host that was expecting me at 2:00pm. Fast forward to my arrival in Milan: I jumped in a taxi and arrived at my Airbnb, and after apologizing profusely for not being able to reach out, I finally was settled in my home for the evening. All the attractions I had set out to see were closed, but it was nothing a huge glass of vino couldn’t fix.

I tell you this story because the Universe still tests me, yet it also reminds me, I am in complete control. I think ultimately my calmness towards the situation is what reunited me back with my lost item. So as things like this occur in your everyday life, take a moment to think of their impact on the grand scheme of everything. We often overly dramatize simple things into life-or-death situations. See these inconvenient lessons as a chance to control your thoughts. I guarantee the outcome will be much brighter when you approach it this way. Like the wise Pema Chodron stated, “You build inner strength through embracing the totality of your experience, both the delightful parts and the difficult parts”.

Furthermore, 3 days after my return and getting back into the swing of my day to day life, I came home to one of the biggest violations someone can face, I had been burglarized. As my eyes set on my room that looked like a tornado had just ran through it, I was confused. A few seconds later I realized someone had broken into my apartment. Police arrived to file a report and soon after forensics showed up to do fingerprinting. Finally, I was able to put my room back in order and then that’s when I realized more and more things were taken. Initially, I reminded myself these are just material items. As the list of items started to grow, they also held higher sentimental value. I would never be able to replace the emotional ties I had with the pave diamond “L” necklace I received at my dad’s funeral and wore religiously or my boyfriend’s watch that he gifted to himself when he became a commercial airline Captain. If that wasn’t a hard-enough blow, I then walked over to my desk to realize, my beloved laptop was stolen. My initial book manuscript I started last week in Italy was on there, and not backed up.

This made my 22 hour journey or lost iPhone seem desirable; just as one day the robbery will be the least of my worries. I was rightfully upset but decided not to wallow for too long. Hard to understand right now, but everything happens for a reason and there is something to be gained from this situation. So, as I write to you from my new laptop, please remind yourself when you are going through what seems like battle after battle, take a deep breath, take power over your thoughts, and know you will make it through to the other side.

Ashton Saldanamindset