You could be snowboarding in fresh powder in the Italian Alps…
50 Reasons to Take a Mini-Retirement Now #44 March 5, 2010
Technology masks tradition.
When I was traveling throughout Southeast Asia, some of my favorite photos I took were of men and women working in rice paddy fields. I walked past many rice farmers dressed in pointy straw hats, their ankles deep in mud, as they threw stalks of rice into the ground of a steep mountain slope. It was nothing I had ever seen before. It was serene, it was beautiful.
Now flash forward to the future and imagine a rice planting machine. It is not as serene, nor so beautiful. On one hand, I am a proponent of technology because the work, for rice farmers in Southeast Asia today and other parts of underdeveloped nations who are using traditional methods, is extremely laborious and tedious taking away time spent with family and friends. However, with that being said, witnessing first hand these traditional methods while they still exist is indescribable, and is something I am extremely grateful and fortunate to have seen in my lifetime, because, like everything in this world, change is inevitable.
Walking in the Rain… April 26, 2009
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.
Living an Italian Dream. March 18, 2009
It seems surreal that it has been three weeks since I left the States to start my new adventure: to live in Italy for a year! Last year I embarked on an 10 month around the world trip, this year I am in pursuit of fulfilling additional dreams to live abroad, learn fluent Italian and write a novel–something I have wanted to do for as long as I can remember but have never taken the time. When I look back on my life I don’t want to remember that I wanted to do something, but rather that I did that something. The fear of failure is the greatest failure in life. Why would you deny yourself the opportunity to try to achieve what your heart desires for fear that it cannot be done?
Sure, I may not achieve all of my endeavors, that is to be somewhat expected. However, with every pursuit I will certainly grow, learn and strengthen myself with the mere act of trying. The end result is a compliment for ones ego, but the passion that fills one soul in the process is the true reward. To feel alive with passionate hunger and desire is the only life worth leading, without feeling and emotion life is a stagnant line. I want to be a heart beat. A pulse. A movement in space that is always surging and never at rest.
Let the infinite possibilities of life consume me, my dreams engulf each moment I spend on earth, and give me determination and perseverance in maintaining an unwavering aim to lead a life of unrelenting passion and romantic adventure.
A Continual Quest February 19, 2009
It’s officially official…. in one week from today I am moving to Italy! Although, I already planned to be leaving, until I had my visa in hand nothing was certain. I flew to San Francisco last week, applied for my visa and a few days later walked out of the Italian Consulate’s white wooden doors with a huge smile spread wide across my face, my visa in hand, and the stripes of red, green and white from the Italian flag hung over the door frame waving behind me. Just over a year ago I was leaving Seattle for an around the world trip, now merely 12 months later, I am about to embark on a new adventure. What amazing moments are waiting for me in Italy? What new terrene can I explore?
The world offers endless possibilities if you continually strive for them. The key to accomplishing your goals and dreams is to not stop after completing one goal, but rather to keep challenging yourself to achieve all of your goals on your list. And, when that list is done–time to make a new one.
Never stop aspiring for your dreams after you complete your first round of goals. Of course, take some time to soak in the glory of your accomplishments, congratulations! But, don’t think for a moment that you are done–your list of dreams should be constant, never ending. No matter how many goals you’ve accomplished or how much status or wealth you have obtained, you should never allow yourself to sit idle in life when you have the potential each day to fulfill a personal goal or to help others achieve theirs.
Obstacles are bound to cross your path stealing your motivation like two black masked men robbing piles of crisp green cash from the vault of a bank, leaving you empty and in disarray. But, when all is lost, that is when your true strength perseveres. “Okay,” you should say. “What can I do right now to better my situation and what is out of my control?” Be relentless about identifying the things you can change, and let go of the things you can’t.
Life should be a challenge. Whether you create the challenge for yourself, or the challenge falls unexpectedly in your lap like Cancer or paralysis, you still have a reason to push yourself. Don’t give up. Strive for your dreams, and if your current dreams are too far away to grasp or have now become unrealistic given an unexpected situation, create a new list–keeping pushing yourself.
The true prize is your journey in persevering towards your goals, rather than the single moment when you actually achieve them. The gratification from holding a trophy is minuscule to the power of conquering the skills that allowed you to get there which were achieved from hours of practice, diligence to your goal and belief in yourself that–yes! my dreams are important, they are worth the effort.
Back in the U.S.A December 14, 2008
It was exactly 10 months from today that I boarded a plane for New Zealand. I left my family. I left my boyfriend. I left my friends. I left beautiful Seattle…my home. I challenged myself to take a risk, to be independent, to follow a dream of exploring the world and experiencing culture while it still exists.
I returned to Seattle three days ago with 50 some gigs of photos and experiences that have changed my life. I couldn’t have dreamed of a better trip, better travel companions or better memories while traveling the world.
And, now after 10 months…I am back where I started. I am sitting on a comfy couch in my brother’s warm living room writing on my laptop while the rest of my family (minus my brother Mark who is coming on Monday) sits next to me reading the newspaper or watching t.v. It is as though nothing has changed, everything seems the same. If it weren’t for me being curled up in my blue and green Tibetan shawl I bought in India, I may think that my around the world trip was just a figment of my imagination. But this soft blanket reminds me of all that I have experienced, all that I have DONE in the past 10 months. And, for this I smile.
It was hard to take the plunge and to leave my family, boyfriend, friends and my comfortable life in Seattle. My life was incredible before I left–why would I leave? One word: dreams. Everyone has different dreams and goals. Some people dream of becoming a professional basketball player, while others dream of being the best stay at home mom. There is no wrong dream, it is yours and it is what makes you get up in the morning with a smile on your face and butterflies in your stomach as you quest to fulfill them.
One of my dreams was to travel the world. Ten months ago I was 25, two years into my career but with no car payments, house payments or kids. I was free from the materialistic burdens that tie a person to one place. Besides leaving the people I loved, it was good timing and if I didn’t leave then, I knew I never would.
Now I sit here on the same couch I sat 10 months ago, only this time my body is warmly wrapped in a Tibetan shawl, my head is filled with incredible travel memories and my heart is content that I fulfilled one of my internal passions. I missed many people and things while I was gone, but they were here waiting for me when I got back.
Don’t be afraid to leave the comfort of your home.
Home, is a place you can always return.
Daily Challenge: Do something…Alone! November 25, 2008
During this last weekend, I have had a handful of people exclaim in a bewildered tone, “Alone!?!” This is their response when they ask me who I am with and I tell them, “I am by myself.”
“Alone?” They repeat with a look of shock, like it is absolutely the most maddening news they have ever heard–like Brittany Spears marrying Bill Gates or something.
But, being alone can be absolutely amazing:
Friday night I stayed at home, wrote a few pages for my novel, cooked myself a yummy dinner and watched an old film that I had never seen before, “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”–alone. (Which is quite fitting as Audrey Hepburn also plays the role of an independent socialite…)
Saturday night I drove to Reggio Emilia, alone, found a cute little restaurant where I enjoyed a nice dinner, alone, and then went to Sali and Tobacchi–a gorgeous bar, restaurant and discoteca, alone.
Monday I drove to Parma, alone, went to the Correggio art exhibition, alone, and ended the night with a glass of wine and an apperativo at a cute little restaurant in a piazza, alone.
It’s not to say that I want to do everything alone. Sunday night for instance, I met up with my new Italian friends for an apperitivo (happy hour) and later a fantastic dinner of homemade tortellini (made by my friend’s nonna (grandmother)…absolutely delish!). I one-hundred percent think that good friends are essential in life. There is nothing more special than sharing a similar connection with someone else. I am a social butterfly by nature and wouldn’t be able to live without social interaction.
However, since travelling on my own, I have been forced to do things by myself. And, I have discovered that being able to do things independently has been an incredible characteristic to develop–one that is truly empowering.
Firstly, you don’t have to rely on someone else in order to do something you want, you are in charge–you’re the boss. Secondly, you build confidence in yourself as you conquer little obstacles on your own; if you want to drive somewhere but don’t know how to read a city map–by gosh you better figure it out. And, thirdly, you feel comfortable with yourself, you become your own friend, your own sense of entertainment. You don’t have to rely on someone else to make you happy, you can find happiness from within. Like a child. And, how great are children? I can sit for hours and just watch them in action, playing, laughing and making up imaginary games. They are happy even when they are by themselves, it’s a virtue we sometimes lose as we get older and begin to rely solely on other people to entertain us or make us happy.
So, my challenge to you is to do something completely by yourself that you normally would never do. Go to dinner, a movie, a weekend get-a-way…but do it alone. Learn to be decisive, learn to be confident in a crowded room of strangers, and learn to enjoy your own company!