A Traveler’s Terrene

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

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!

 

Daily Challenges: Balancing Your Goals November 23, 2008

I have been living off an energy high since being in Italy. Each day I have woken up and felt truly happy…to the point that I smile all day long, have a skip in my walk, and have had numerous people ask me if I am always this happy, for which I reply, of course not (to make them feel better)–but truthfully, I have been. Why? Because each day I have been living a balanced goal oriented life. I have an accomplished feel to my day as I simultaneously work towards achieving many of my personal goals.

But the past 3 days however, I have been on the verge of kicking something (really hard and with all my strength), my insides have felt explosive–like a shaken up soda pop, cap still on and just waiting to explode. I hate being filled with negative feelings or anxiety as it directly affects the rest of my mind and body–I start sleeping less, eating bad foods, stop working out, and become mentally and physically lazy. It’s a recipe for disaster and if which, is not stopped soon, can easily become routine. And, seriously, who likes to be around a pessimistic, lazy, moody person? Not me…and even I then start to despise myself…  

The catalyst to this horrible cycle of emotions has been my over indulgence in one particular goal–trying to complete a 50,000 word manuscript by the end of November. I think this goal is entirely doable, and had I spent the first few weeks organizing my time a little better would have been manageable, but as I near the end of the month with a current word count of around 30,000 I began to freak out–“I’m not going to achieve my goal,” my insides wail. And because my insides are little fighters they say, “come on now…we’re not going to give up! Let’s fight…”–and so I did: staying up routinely until 4…3…2a.m. this past week, locking myself in my room and sitting in a chair with my computer on my lap for 9…10…11+ hours at a time, drinking ridiculous amounts of coffee and tea and dedicating all my non-working hours to writing (meaning no running, reading, practicing Italian etc).

Three days ago, my body started hating me and my mind felt like a caffeinated cloud–buzzing awake but airy, with nothing really there.  Finally, I did what I knew would make me feel better–I went for a run. Within the first four strides, my body said to me, “THHHHHAANNNKKKYYYOOOOUUUU” (it doesn’t like being caged up) and my mind slowly began to relax, the fuzzy cloud that hung over my thoughts began sharpening into focus like the lens in a binocular. “Yay!” I said to myself, “I can actually think again.” So I ran…and ran…and ran…and probably could have rivalled Forest Gump in distance had I not had to work that day. It felt good to feel good; it felt good to be back to my normal self.

So, I have decided to not bind myself in trying to complete the word count at all costs–not to say I have given up writing towards this goal, but I am not going to starve myself from sleep, exercise and a little fun. My long term goal is to write a novel. I may not achieve my short term goal of writing a 50k novel within a month, but hey–not every goal I set am I going to accomplish, and that is okay. As long as I am taking a step in the right direction, I am at least moving somewhere than standing idle. This short term goal pushed me to start writing and to stop doubting my abilities or fears of failure. So, even though I may not get to 50,000 words by November 30th, my novel is in motion–30,000 words and counting!

Goals are like climbing a mountain. You see the top, and you want to be standing there, smiling, hands stretched out wide to your sides in self congratulation as you pear down below at your achievement. Sometimes it will be an easy climb–hey you’re in shape, you have the right equipment and your body can manage it. Other times, it will be a struggle–the weather brings snow flurries, equipment breaks or your body just says to you, “I can’t go on.” As any true climber knows–a mountain will always be there, you however, if you don’t listen to the signs of your body, may not.

So, my challenge to you is to access your goals and the state of your mind and body. Everyone will have different capacities and breaking points of how much they can handle. But just remember, your mind and body is your core, keep it alert and healthy and don’t overindulge if is telling you not to–it’s a smart little vessel, so listen to it:-)

 

Daily Challenge: Push Yourself November 19, 2008

I have now written 15,545 words for my first novel. My target goal is 50,000 by the end of the month, as I am taking part in the National Novel Writing Month , which is a creative writing project through the course of November that challenges you (as in anyone!) to get off your lazy bum, stop making the thousands excuses about “lack of time” and finally sit down to write the book you’ve always talked or dreamed about writing.  This event worked out perfectly in timing as writing a book is one of the top reasons I chose to live in Italy, and has been great motivation.

I have 34,455 more words to go, and am quite far behind as I only have 9 writing days left (I’m going to Switzerland in 2 weeks so that will cut out a few days). But, it is my own state of procrastination (or rather anticipation to spend time exploring Correggio and the surrounding areas) that has left me trailing a few laps in this race.  However, slowly by slowly I am gaining speed–last night I forced myself not to go to bed until I had written 3,000 words. As 4a.m. rolled around, I finally did it…3,011 to be exact…

Will I be able to kick it into gear and sprint to the finish line in time? I will soon find out…

My daily challenge to you is to push yourself to finish a goal, or start it for that matter–one that you’ve always had on your list but never have gotten around to accomplishing.PUSH YOURSELF…little by little…or like me, if you are far behind, kick yourself into high speed and start sprinting towards that finish line!

 

A Girl’s Dream…Fashion Week in Italy! November 7, 2008

The great thing about travelling, is that as a tourist, it is almost your obligated duty to take part in the country’s cultural and social events. Whether it be visiting a museum, church, musical or festival–all of these things help mold and shape your perception of “history” and “life” in the country.

So, tonight, it is my “obligated duty” that I must go to Reggio Emilia (RE), to check out THE FASHION WEEK, sponsored by one of the hottest lounge and discotecas in RE. http://www.salietabacchi.com/

I plan to take a quick run before the sun sets, and then will get primped up wearing something purple (as that is thee in-fashion color of the season) and will head out for a big night out for Fashion Week. I feel as though I could be living an episode of Sex and the City, all I am missing are my best girlfriends! (I miss you all, by the way!!)

Tomorrow, I will report back on my findings…just don’t plan on any news too early because I may still be out “investigating” this cultural event at 6a.m…