A Traveler’s Terrene

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

50 Reasons to Take a Mini-Retirement Now: #42 March 27, 2010

Because you can.

I can’t quite my job/take a leave of absence. I can’t sell or rent out my house. I can’t pull my kids out of school. I can’t get out of debt. I can’t save enough money. I can’t travel the world. I can’t live a mobile lifestyle. Does this sound familiar? Well, I have news for you…all of the above, you can. There is no one stopping you from doing all of these things, except yourself. And, with the right planning and resources, you can do all of the above without as much difficulty as you may think. I recommend voraciously reading Tim Ferriss’s blog for a plethora of lifestyle how to’s and advice.

Many people accept failure even before they actually try. “That is too difficult” or “I could never do that,” many say. But, don’t lie to yourself! If you are willing to put in the work, most things are possible, the biggest deterrents though are either fear or laziness, not your inability to do something.  With enough perseverance, hard work and education, most everything is possible–especially, lifestyle change.  Don’t ask, if you can do something….just do it.  You can. No permission needed.

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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.

 

But, what? April 19, 2009

Filed under: Daily Life — italicana kitchen @ 1:04 pm
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Worse than the word “like” that seems to pepper my speech like powder on a donut, covering the cakey circle in layers of sugary dust that makes a mess on my fingers, a white mustache on my face and sprinkles what looks like dandruff on my clothes, turning me from the classy lady, to a sticky fingered embarrassed child, is the word “but”. Yes, the world “but” is worse than the world “like”. I can wash my hands, wipe my face and shake the powder from my clothes and—voila, like magic, no one knows that I had eaten a 500 calorie, trans-fat, unhealthy donut. If anyone asks, for all they know I could have eaten an apple.

The word “but”, however, is a word that reveals your secret and exposes your weakness forcing you to lose face by admitting your action and puts you on the spot as you attempt to string together a set of justified excuses or, in the end, a handful of lies.

“I saw your car at the donut shop, I thought you were trying to lose weight,” a friend might ask.

“Ummm…yes….” I would stutter, “I am but I didn’t have time to make oatmeal this morning so I stopped for  a donut instead.”

But…but…but….excuses, excuses, excuses. Why is it, that we let this word frequent our speech and furthermore, accept the explanations as justified reasons instead of just owning up to our faults, flaws or weaknesses? How many times have we heard or said, “Sorry I am late, but….”, or “I would like to do that, but…”

Stop. Stop with the excuses. Eliminate this word. Change your life. If you want to lose weight, no excuses—eat healthy and exercise. If you dream of traveling but are stuck in your 9 to 5, no excuses—start saving your money and figure out ways to incorporate traveling into your life. If you’ve always wanted to take a painting class, learn Spanish, grow prize-winning flowers, fly-fish in a fresh water stream, or go back to school, no excuses—formulate a strategy and make time.

If you eliminate excuses, then you’ll begin to lead a life of action. Instead of littering your life with broken promises and unfulfilled dreams, you’ll be filling your life with a desire, commitment, dedication and perseverance to make a change, taking charge of your actions, your future, and your life. By removing “but” from your vocabulary, you’ll be able to replace it with the most powerful phrase, “I am”.

 

New Blog! :: Italian Isolation April 10, 2009

Filed under: Italian Life,Italy,living abroad — italicana kitchen @ 10:45 pm
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I will continue to write on a Traveler’s Terrene about general ideas and thoughts (and keep it going for when I take another big trip), but for everything related to my life in Italy you can go to my new blog: Italian Isolation.

From topics such as my passion to write a book to learning fluent italian, from whether Italian men are really stallions to where to find the best gelato–I plan to talk about it all. Think of me as your new travel spokesperson on life in Italy, and learn a little Italian along the way in the Italian vocabulary section!

 

Another Vocab Blunder… March 31, 2009

Standing outside a restaurant last week, my friend introduced me to a group of friends.  While he turned to continue his conversation with another person I began to chat with one of the women.

Of course, our conversation started out by saying the introductory greetings of “Ciao/Hello…” “Come stai?/How are you?”….etc.  Later in the conversation, I noticed her beautiful red necklace.

“Che bel collare!” I exclaimed.

I received a puzzled look from the woman. Then I pointed to her red necklace hanging around her neck.

“Oh!” She said a wide grin flashing across her face, “La mia collana.”

Ah yes…”collana” because “collare” means collar.

“What a beautiful collar!” …so…I basically just told the woman she looked like a dog. Awesome.

 

Flying Bread and a Scratched Eye March 29, 2009

Instead of trying to back track and describe all of the amazing and incredible experiences of living in Italy for the past month and two days, I am going to simply flash forward to the present. Well, the present minus one day…last night…

I accompanied a handful of my new Italian friend to a birthday party celebration at a restaurant they had rented out for the evening. I planned to stay for dinner and afterward, while the rest of the fifty-some group of friends were going to a discoteca to dance, I was going to a fashion show! Yes, my night was beautifully planned out and I was looking forward to both occasions.

The dinner party started out great. A buffet of exquisite Italian appetizers: asparagus topped with polenta, varieties of focaccia and pizza, rice and pasta salads, veal layered with tuna spread and one of my favorites, l’erbazzone , a thin pastry bread filled with baked spinach.

The main course was on it’s way out of the kitchen and while the rest of the group had found their seats, there were four of us still standing in conversation.  Unintentional, and certainly wine-induced, a fellow friend threw a piece of bread at the man standing in front of me to get his attention to join everyone at the table. Well, unfortunately he had horrible aim in hitting a large target and a surprisingly impeccable ability in hitting a bulls eye….that being my eye. Not above, below, to the left or right of my eye–but smack dab in the middle, and so quickly that my eyelashes didn’t have the opportunity to defend itself from it’s attacker: the sharp edge of a crusty piece of bread.

Time nor eye-drops made the pain in my eye go away and after a half an hour of not being able to open, or even see out of my left eye, I let a few friends drive me to the emergency room. The doctor cleaned my eye (to the point where I wanted to scream it hurt so bad) it then the pain was more or less abated. He prescribed some medicine to help heal the corneal abrasion and although I could get the gyst of what the doctor was saying, I was glad to have my friend Lucio there to translate, especially the dosage for the prescriptions.  Fifteen minutes later, I was exiting the E.R. with my wallet still full of money—it didn’t cost a cent. Got to love Italian health care…I could only imagine the fees this little episode would set me back in the states.

Lessons learned: be thankful for every part of your body every second of the day as you never know when something unexpected like a piece of flying bread could change your life. Fortunately for me, this incident should clear up in a few days, but some accidents don’t. So, right now where ever you are, just count your blessing for the health you currently have.

 

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.