I recently snuggled in with a cup of tea on a cold night to watch “Eat, Pray, Love.” If you haven’t seen the movie, I won’t spoil the ending, but it is about a woman whose life is in transition. She is searching for herself after a hard divorce, and her experiences take her around the world to eat, pray and love.

In the movie, the word “attraversiamo” plays a significant role. It is Italian for “let’s cross over.” The main character is crossing over into her new life and her new view of herself. Other characters share their experiences of change and crossing over in the movie, and it led me to think about how many ways attraversiamo affects all of our lives.

I started talking to friends who laughingly shared vignettes with me about times their lives hinged on a clear moment that changed their paths forever. In some cases, the moments were fleeting and unplanned. In other cases, there was great thought given to the impact of decisions made. One friend I talked to belongs to the Threshold Singers and thought of crossing over as a metaphor for death which is the ultimate “attraversiamo” that we will all endure.

In every case, there was at least one moment that the women I know could identify as life-altering. Some women declined to share their attraversiamo moments with me because there were too many to count. I have to agree with that. I can think of two in my life that have jarred me out of my reality into something completely new and unexpected.

The first time, I was an assistant publicist in Los Angeles with a penthouse office in Beverly Hills and clients like Barry Manilow, Florence Henderson, Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme. Barry had just returned from a concert tour in Australia where he’d gotten me a lovely t-shirt. It was then that I had my moment. I’d received free passes to a new movie and was sitting in the back of the theater when it happened. The movie was “When a Man Loves a Woman,” and in it Andy Garcia played an airline pilot. I love to travel. I’d been to school in London and travel as often as possible. When I saw Andy Garcia land his fictitious plane in Denver and welcome his passengers home, I knew I needed to do that, too. The t-shirt from Barry was nice, but I wanted to go to Australia myself. The next morning, I headed to the Santa Monica airport before work and signed up to learn how to fly. That moment in the dark theater crossed me over to an eventually successful airline career and a family and home in northern Wisconsin, somewhere I’d never even considered. I still need to get to Australia, but I have gotten as close as the Cook Islands – and who knows where my next crossing over will take me.

There are a jillion moments of change in our lives, some quite significant. But it’s fun to trace them back to a single moment when something took us out of our box, challenged our sense of normal reality and inspired us to take a chance on something that changed who we are forever. I asked some friends if they would be willing to share their stories with Queen readers, and some agreed. Perhaps their stories will be reminiscent of yours, or maybe you will find among them inspiration to find your attraversiamo yet to be.

Mary: My crossover was when I wanted to be a physical therapist in a children’s hospital, but I wasn’t given that opportunity by my father. He allowed me to be a teacher or a nurse. I chose a nurse, and went to Madison, WI, where I started to date my now-husband who I had met when I was sixteen. I have retired from nursing after 45 years. I have the same husband, and I have five children with 11 grandchildren! It has been very rewarding – difficult at times – but never without wonderful rewards!!

Sandra: My crossing over was when I moved to WI. I didn’t have family here and found it difficult to make friends. It was awful. All I know is family. I had so many siblings that I didn’t have to make friends; my family supplied me with built-in friendships. Other people didn’t have the same tolerance as my sibs, and if I am honest, I had to develop tolerance for others outside my family. Authentic relationships are very important to me. I like to be with people I can voice my opinion to as well as listen to their views. Sometimes we agree, and sometimes we agree to disagree. My family has always provided that comfort zone of complete acceptance. So, I crossed over and made a decision to invest in people here. I have a new collection of family. It has been a brilliant journey – and sometimes difficult. Through these challenges I have discovered a better version of myself.

Juli:  My crossing over was business school, but not because of a career that took me to CEO heights. Grad school was supposed to be my safety net; it would get me work that would enable me to live comfortably on my own. I wanted to make sure I didn’t have to rely on anybody for my financial security. Instead, it gave me an opening to talk to a guy I fell head over heels for. He was a marketing guy with a love of all things Internet, and I just so happened to be taking a class about building your own website (circa 1998 – still a new thing). Later, my degree provided us with my bigger salary to take care of our new family when things were unstable for my new husband’s work. My MBA didn’t provide me a CEO title…I guess I’m CEO for my family. And it didn’t provide me a safety net to be on my own…I’m not. It provided me the tools to partner with a man, raise a family together and be the safety net for all of us.

Jennifer: I am someone who has always done what was supposed to be done. I impressed teachers and won awards. I never played hooky or cheated or experimented with anything. My “crossing over” decision came when I left a 14-year marriage and moved my children across the country to Eau Claire, WI, where I felt they would have a chance at a better future. The marriage on its face looked strong and normal, but in reality was fraudulent, bleak, emotionally toxic and financially devastating. I moved myself and my five children with only a small U-Haul and a few boxes of possessions to a place I had visited one time, trading a house in the suburbs and a marriage to a lawyer for a tiny rented duplex and food stamps. I expended nearly all my meager resources and relied heavily on the help of other people. It was not the default decision, and it wasn’t widely accepted by people who thought they knew what truly occurred in my marriage and condemned me for my decision to leave it. I let it all go and crossed over with my children into what I am certain is the right place. They are thriving now where they were stagnating before, and this has made all the difference.

Ruth: I was a social worker after college with a degree in psychology, but I was booted from social work because I refused to urge patients to leave the safety of the hospital and live with distant relatives in a small apartment. “You are not suited to be a social worker,” my boss said…which was true. I turned to education instead and went to night classes to become accredited for k-3. If I wanted a job in NYC, I would need more courses – the most boring, terrible courses – so, I needed to get out of NYC. In 1953 I went to a teacher’s employment agency to find openings and found one in Anchorage. I was fascinated by the last frontier. It really was the last frontier; it was just a territory then. I jumped on a plane and knew from the first that it was the right decision. I had gotten a letter from the Anchorage teachers union that said they would meet my plane and help me get settled and find my way. I lived in Alaska for 10 golden years. I got married there and had my three children there. When I left, it was reluctantly. I always wondered what my life would have been like if we’d stayed. But those 10 years were golden.

Bobbie: As for myself, I really can’t think of a single major attraversiamo. In many ways my life has been one of exploring what’s on the other side of many mountains, and that lifelong endeavor has brought me at this time to Eau Claire, WI.

Stephanie: I was six when Molly, my youngest cousin was a baby. During a Christmas visit, we realized that she had a terrible aversion to my mom and would scream any time she was near. For some reason Mom and I were left alone in the house with Molly for a short time. Sure enough, she exploded in her diaper, but there was nothing my mom could do about it without making things worse. So, she looked at me….really LOOKED at me….and said, “Well, this is just what you’re going to have to do; you’re going to have to change the baby.” I was always full of self-doubt, but she delicately balanced getting me to do what needed to be done without having me fall apart or get too shy. She talked me through it, every single step. It seems mundane now, but at age six it felt like brain surgery; it was such a grown-up thing to do. That triggered something in me and made me realize what is ingrained in me: that “undesirable” or “unimportant” tasks give me pride and fulfillment – specifically when I am helping children. I can help them feel better and be filling my cup at the same time. I became a child care junkie then and now realize the importance of education in fulfilling my goals. I am lucky enough to work with children every day now and know that working in early childhood education isn’t just being a teacher in a classroom. It’s so much more.

Glenda: I was sitting alone in the graduate library at the University of Missouri writing a paper for one of my classes when it struck me that this was not the kind of work I wanted to do. I wanted to write timely, immediate stories that people would read and discuss. One day a friend introduced me to a colleague of hers who was an MU journalism professor. During lunch I was telling them what I hoped to do but that I hadn’t decided how to get there when her friend blurted out, “Why aren’t you in journalism?” After that the pieces came together as if the gods were applauding their agreement. I was admitted to the MU journalism school, and they accepted many of my English credits. Meanwhile the English department asked me to come back and teach, thus giving me a way to pay my tuition. After graduation I went on to a career that has included dinners with the president, tea at Buckingham Palace, flying over the Serengeti in a hot-air balloon and dancing with headhunters in Borneo. I could not have imagined the places my journalism degree would take me.

Sandy: The moment that changed my life was in 1986 when I was fortunate enough to get picked to attend the week-long American Federation of Teachers’ Educational Research and Dissemination (ER&D) Training Program that teaches teachers about educational research and how it is applied in successful teachers’ classrooms. To my surprise, the following year I was selected to become a National ER&D Trainer, which meant I got to teach teachers from all over the country. After several years of training teachers, I was asked to work with two University of Oregon professors to develop and ultimately teach two new educational research topics. During this time I was also selected to travel to different cities to see how teachers were implementing educational research. I got to meet and talk with a number of the top educational researchers in the country. Several of the other national training teachers became some of my best friends. Knowing the educational research made me a much better teacher because my students benefited from the strategies and research that I was able to implement in my classroom. Knowledge is power, and it launched me into my crossing over.

Kay: I was 35 when it came time for me to cross over into a new way of looking at life. I had been hungry for a husband and a family and was scouring the clubs and activities around town to find the man who would kick it all off for me. It wasn’t pretty. One night I sat down and had a full-on pity party because I didn’t think I was going to find him. I was devastated. My pity party went on for about three hours until I started thinking of my beautiful nephews whose mom needed help. I had a lot of friends who needed an extra set of eyes or arms around to help with their small kids, too, and I realized that my role in life didn’t have to be that of wife and mother. I embraced the idea of being a helpful friend and aunt, and it changed how I approached my whole life. My family noticed a change in my attitudes, and I felt happier. I was free from the expectations I had put on myself, and I could just be me. The man of my dreams never would have taken a second look at the woman I had been before that night, but I was lucky enough to find him a few years after I had crossed over into my new self. He wandered into my new life, and we now have the child I’d dreamed of. It took an internal attraversiamo for me to find my dreams come true.