A Traveler’s Terrene

You only live once. What are you going to remember the most?

Be Madly in Love November 9, 2009

When love is not madness, it is not love. –Pedko Calderon De La Barca

Unfortunately, many couples forget this. And, these words, written over 300 years ago during the Spanish Golden Age are starting to lose their color like black ink fading on paper, after awhile what was once written with emotion and passion is fading away to the sterile color of a hospital wall. Love is slowly becoming orderly. Love is becoming contained.

For the mass, we wrap up our love in nice little boxes with big red bows at Christmas, boxes of chocolates and roses on Valentine’s Day, and maybe something a touch more personal for the birthday. It’s sweet. It’s appreciated. Yet, it’s expected and mundane.

I was talking with my Italian friend the other night and he was telling me about his long distance relationship with a girl living in England. Every Friday night after work he would board a plane and set off to London for the weekend, returning early Monday morning to start another week of work.  I thought it was rather sweet that each weekend, he would buy a cheap euro-flight and a spend a few hours traveling in order to share three nights with his lover. And, in my mind, the time/money he spent was completely worth the three days with a loved one.

But, when he also told me that he would leave every Wednesday night after work, fly to London just for dinner and leave again the next morning at 6:00a.m. to catch his flight home and drive directly to work….well, folks, now, that is just plain madness. And, that wasn’t a one time ordeal, but a ritualized travel excursion that continued for over a period of five months!

“WHAT are you thinking spending all of that money and time just for one night together? That is just madness!” I exclaimed in disbelief.

His eyes lit up, a smile broke out. He didn’t have to say a word.

Then, I understood.  Yes, it was madness….it was love.


Walking in the Rain… April 26, 2009

Filed under: Random Moments — italicana kitchen @ 4:15 pm
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I woke up this morning to a dreary gray sky, the wind whipping through the nearby trees and the sound of a thousand drops falling on the rooftop..pidder..patter…pidder…patter… I walked to the window and pulled it open as far as it would go, took the patched blanket from my bed and curled up in the chair by the lamp and began to write. Just like the fresh breeze blowing through the open window, my thoughts flowed freely onto the paper in front of me until I had three pages full of blue ink.

Although I was finally consumed with inspiration, I also had the biggest urge to crawl out the window. On second thought,  I decided to use a more practical approach by using the side door, but I wanted to go play in the rain! It was only last week that I wrote a chapter about a woman who prefers the cold raindrops hitting her face than the comfort of the house. When was the last time I walked in the rain? Not with an umbrella or a fear of getting wet and ruining my blow dried and curled hair, but actually walking with the intention of feeling the cold water splash across my face and body? Trekking in the Himalayas maybe, but that now has been over six months ago. How have I deprived myself of this simple joy for so long? I questioned as I pulled on my black rain pants, put my arms through my red raincoat and laced up my worn and tattered hiking shoes.

Within a matter of minutes I was closing the metal door of the gate and strolling along the paved street which was void of life except a car every now and then. One car slowed down as it approached me, to stare, the driver probably asking himself, “why is this girl walking in the rain?” Another whizzed past, it’s wheels splashing the water that lay pooled next to the sidewalk as it made it’s way towards me, I found myself moving towards the edge of the sidewalk closest to the car and trying to time it just right so the splash from the puddle would hit me!

Soon my feet found puddles like a magnet to a fridge, and I couldn’t stop them from stomping, marching and splashing through the water–I was momentarily a 5 year old child. The cold water splashed up my pants and onto my bare skin giving me goosebumps before trickling it’s way down to my socks and pooling itself to form a puddle in my shoe. Removing the hood that covered my head, I let the rain stream down across my face as I left the paved streets to walk along an old country road lined with rustic Italian houses and vineyards that stretched towards the horizon for as far as my eyes could see. The green grass sprouted yellow dandy lions and white daisies lined the ground between the twisting vines held up by faded wooden poles and lines of sharp and pointy barbwire.

By this time, I was drenched but I didn’t care. My goal was not to stay dry but to feel the raindrops on my skin, to smell the fresh scent of cleansed air, and to hear the chirping of the birds or the droplets falling through the limbs of the trees, hitting each branch like the ball in an old arcade machine.

I sit here now after a warm shower, wrapped in a blanket and drinking tea–happy that I am now back inside. However, my walk through the rain is a moment I will never forget.

Every day we have the amazing opportunity to create moments and to live life like we’ve always imagined. For me, as I write about these moments for characters in my story it makes me jealous–I want to have a moment like that! I think to myself. The simple reality that we often times forget is that we can. The moments we imagine we can create, just like today–all it took was putting down my pen and walking out that side door.


Daily Challenge: Everyone Needs a Little Motivation November 11, 2008

I have my short and long term goals, but what about daily goals? Or even better, daily challenges.  I am competitive by nature, not the “I’m going to scratch your eyes out to win competitive”, but the “bring it on” attitude, or the “game on” I always like to say (picture the scene from Wayne’s World…).

Even though I am proactive by nature, there are times when I am lazy. Times when I procrastinate. Times when I just plain don’t care. Then…someone challenges me. “I bet you can’t do…”

 I feel a prickling sensation at the nape of my neck. I sit up straight, back arched in perfect posture, as I listen closely to what is being said…how dare someone suggest that me , a woman of the 21st century, can’t do something. I won’t claim I can do everything or rather, be good at everything, but I have enough courage to accept the challenge and try.

Has anyone heard me sing?  I am absolutely terrible. But, that didn’t keep me years ago from auditioning for a part in a musical and singing on stage in front of hundreds of people. (Mind you, after diligent practice I could sing the song quite well, but I would be your worst nightmare now if you allowed me sing to music in the car!)

Sometimes, all we really need is someone to play devil’s advocate and doubt us, assuming they know what we are and aren’t capable of doing.  Or, by contrast, sometimes, all we need is a little motivation. Someone to suggest we would be good at something or to complement us on our skills.  Whatever the case may be, sometimes we just need something to get us up and moving. To remind you to live an active life rather than a passive one. To propel you to better yourself or your situations.  To make life into a fun game, with new rules each day.  To try new things and explore. To force yourself to take risks even though you may be afraid. To humble yourself with failure, and become more confident with each success. And, the list goes on…

Each day, I will post a new challenge for myself. A mission to accomplish. (<insert mission impossible theme song here Da..da..da…da. Da..da…da..da.  Dada dddddddd….dada ddddddddd…dada.>) It will be anything from learning how to make authentic Italian homemade pasta to making a friend with a complete stranger; from volunteering a few hours at a shelter to taking a painting class. The options are endless.

My challenge to you, is to play this game with me. Write a message on the Daily Challenge post about your accomplishments or failures, stuggles or achievements with each challenge. It will be fun, it will be interactive! Given certain circumstances, you (or I) may not be able to play or achieve each challenge. Maybe you live in a small town and don’t have the ability to take a painting class or you can’t afford a babysitter to watch the children etc. Or, my challenges may not be practical for you or vice versa.  Feel free to use my challenges if you want or create your own as in the end, it’s more important that you make up challenges that fit your lifestyle and your personal desires. Either way, just challenge yourself to do something each day. Motivate yourself to better yourself in someway. It can be big or small, lighthearted or serious; it just needs to a challenge you set for yourself, a goal you try to achieve for the day.

And, don’t forget to let me know how it goes…and, even better, send me challenges to accomplish as well.

Happy brainstorming and…game on!


Making the most of every situation November 10, 2008

I’ve been told my life right now sounds glamourous. It is, in fact, even for me, a girl born in the country, who lived next to a wheatfield, graduated high school with 43 other students, and learned how to shoot a rifle by age 16. (Although, the whole hunters education course was merely for my dad’s sake, I have no idea how a rifle works now!)

But, glamour, or class rather “doesn’t buy the groceries” as my dad always likes to say. He is absolutely right. Furthermore, it is all about your perception of the situation. If a married woman reads my post about the Fashion Week event, she may turn green in the face with envy. She may complain that she could never travel because she has a morgage, and her husband and her rent movies on the weekends because they no longer are excited by the bar scene. “My life is so boring, if only I had your life,” she says, ” you are so lucky.”

Granted, I wouldn’t trade my situation right now as it is the path I chose and want to lead, but if I was to look at her life I could be envious as well.  Let’s see, this woman has a house for starters. She didn’t live out of a backpack for 8 months, sleeping in dodgy hostel beds (sometimes with cockroaches and bedbugs)  or on cold train station floors. She can decorate her house, throw beautiful dinner parties, and each day come back to what she calls “home.”  I’ve been in transition for the past 8 years. During university, studying abroad, travelling, and when I did stay put for 2 years, I didn’t make my apartment feel homey because I was saving my money to leave again. 

“My husband and I rent movies on the weekends because we are no longer excited by the bar scene.” Woah, wait. That sounds like a pretty amazing night to me…cuddled up in the arms of someone you love. Being in love far succeeds some fluffy purple jacket that is “fashionable”. I mean can a fluffy purple jacket talk to you? Laugh with you? Kiss you goodnight? Didn’t think so. But, if you’re tired of the same routine then mix it up! Use your imagination. If you and your lover have always wanted to travel, but can’t because of time, money, house, kids (this list goes on…) then bring culture to you!

Here’s on idea off the top of my head:

Take a hat, put a handful of country names that you have always wanted to visit. Then, with your lover (or kids etc), draw from the hat…..drum roll please…Spain. Great! Spain it is. Now what? For the rest of the month you will be doing work as an “obligated tourist”…no excuses as you “must” take your lover to dinner at the Spanish restaurant for tapas, sign up for a month of Flamenco dancing lessons, drive to the international film store and rent Spanish films with subtitles, buy (or print off pages online) a language book and learn how to say the basic greeting to one another, drink Spanish wine as you cook a Spanish dinner together, decorate a room in the house, or a corner even, with bright colored Spanish flare, like red and orange pillows, where you can curl up and read a book on the history and culture of Spain. The options are endless, and with today’s multimedia technology and international communities right in your own city, you don’t need to go to Spain, to Brazil, to Italy, to go to “Little Italy”.  Within the city, and even your own home, you can explore Spain one month, India the next and so on. You can even invite other friends and couples to participate. You just need to be creative and active in your approach and you can bring culture and fun to your own life.

We are sometimes too quick to change our persceptions about the choices we’ve made in our lives, envying others on the choices they’ve made, what they have, and the amazing life they are living.  It’s not about the things in life that are important, it is about the moments, the memories and the experiences that make you happy. Everyone is different, everyone finds happiness in different ways.  And, moreover, is all about perspective. It’s about living the best you can in the moment or stage you are in. If you are married, enjoy being married. If you are single enjoy being single. If you are bored in both of these, you don’t need to reinvent yourself, just add a little adventure to your everyday life. Explore new things. Take on new challenges. Set more goals. Get creative with life, play with it and have fun. 

Try to live it as if the end of the day were death, forcing you each day to think hard about the way you are living your life. Is your life filled with moments you want to remember? Could you write a book of memories that you would want to read someday, or a film that you would want to watch if your life were a movie? 

Stop making excuses about not being able to live your life the way you’ve dreamed. If you want to do something, set a goal, figure out a plan for how to get from A to B, and persevere.  Not everything will go as planned (which has a peculiar way of working out for the better in the long run) nor you may not achieve every goal, but at least you are trying to proactively create the life you want to lead, and that is all you should ask and expect of yourself. Give your best effort to be the person you want to be and you will be happier, you will feel in control of time, instead of watching time and the years pass by. 

Don’t regret the past. Don’t look forward to the future. Enjoy the moment you are in…and start living the life you want to remember!