I grew up hating my name. Well, names. My first name, middle name, last name, nickname. I was teased by other kids a lot because of them. Years ago my mom and dad gave me a Hawaiian gold bracelet that had my middle name on it. I wasn’t proud of it. They gave all of us girls a bangle. And, in an effort to be thankful I decided to figure out a reason to love my middle name.

Fast forward to the present and when asked what my middle name is, I can easily say it without embarrassment. Rufina, I tell them. My great grandma was named Rufina. My grandma then gave my mom Rufina as her middle name. My mom passed it down to me. I have since learned that Rufina is a little town in the Province of Florence, located in Tuscany, Italy.

My mom and I are a lot a like. Well, I have a worse temper than she does and I’d say she is a little more stubborn (love you ma!). But, I adore the woman. She has struggled so much taking care of the six of us that I have decided to take my mom to Rufina. I spoke with my Aunty and learnt there may possibly be some kind of Italian lineage in my blood. Imagine that, I could be a giovane signora italiana!  And so to Italy we will go.

I’ve always wanted to go to Italy (thanks Mario Brothers and Yoshi). Now, I have the reason to go. I once met a woman in Costco as a sampler. She was quite intriguing and spoke seven languages. She inspired me to continue to learn about my culture and who I am. She talked about the need to know where you came from and be proud of that. And so, I save up for the adventure of a life time and have found the need to learn a new language.

Learning Italian is easier when you’ve learned Spanish. The words are relatable, sounds are similar, and they are easy to piece. For example I have learned to say, Buongiomo caro and ti amo sempre. This definitely comes in handy when you are in a relationship, at least the latter part.

I have learned to condividere la mia risata con il mondo and to condividere il mio amore con il mondo because the world needs more of it. Or, to tell my love often that mi manchi. Of course I have learned the simple things: grazie for thank you, per favore for please, and baciami il culo for kiss my….well, you get the picture.

I am embracing this language because one day I will be able to tell the story of how I took a leap and did something I would never dream of doing. I am determined to understand this language because I want to be proud of everything I am. I am learning this language to prove that I can do it.

You may not have to go to Rufina to find out who you are. Or travel to dream your dream, live your dream, be who you want to be. But, I encourage you, whatever dream you have – live it. Whatever you hope to be – be it. Whatever you love to love – love it. The only thing that is stopping you from being you is you.

And so, I leave you with this: non abbiate paura di essere chi sei. Non abbiate paura di monstrare chi sei.

Con amore. Happy learning. xoxo