Be All There

As a Type A planner, I am always awaiting the start of what is next to come. This has been my M.O. as it helps me plan, keeps me motivated, and helps me stay focused on achieving my goals. The downside to this method of living is that I find I am rarely able to take a breath and simply enjoy the moment I am currently in. Throughout my time at Auburn, I have made it a goal of mine to be mindful of my current situation in order to be fully present in all experiences I am fortunate to be in. I made it a goal to continue this practice when I arrived in Ariccia.

It is crucial for me to be present during all Joseph S. Bruno experiences! Admittedly, I have caught my mind wondering off to a different topic or thinking about our next experience and ultimately becoming disengaged with the activity I was presently immersed in. Following my disengagement, whether it was listening to a lecture, receiving a tour, listening to my classmate’s presentation, or even during a conversation with my friends, I felt incredibly regretful as I knew there was never a chance I would have that moment back. I immediately knew I missed out on an opportunity to learn, grow, or connect with my peers.

I am currently writing during the COVID-19 pandemic from my home in South Carolina while I continue my learning experiences online through Zoom and Canvas. At-home learning is difficult, but it is imperative for me to continue being all there in my engagement with the course material. Our staff has facilitated lectures and Q&A sessions with various field experts who we planned on meeting in person. While I am meeting the President and Founder of Connecting Cultures through a camera in the United States, I am no less grateful for the opportunity. 

Aside from never receiving the opportunity again, there is always something to learn. Positive or negative experience, likeable or unlikeable circumstances alike teach us lessons and foster fantastic environments for growth. The biggest lesson I have learned in my life it not to regress during the unfavorable times but allow yourself to grow.

When I find myself wondering off in my head, I practice the mindfulness tool of reconnecting with all five senses. This is a common practice in meditation as well! I identify a few things I can see, touch, hear, smell, and taste (if applicable) to help ground me and connect with my surroundings.

Participating in the Joseph S. Bruno program is a remarkable privilege and I didn’t want to take a minute of it for granted! In short, my takeaway from the program? If you are going to participate and be there, be ALL there!

– Gina Maddaloni

Here is a photo of the JSB Spring 2020 group at Trebotti Wine Farm! We are enjoying the moment and grateful for the experience!