A Traveler’s Terrene

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

Truth through Simplicity September 23, 2009

There is something about the sense of freedom and adventure that makes my heart jump and wild butterflies soar around my tummy like that of a first kiss. The idea of letting everything go and falling into the unknown is exhilarating–it makes me feel present in this world, it makes me feel alive.

Small things can spark these feelings of liberation: a powerful push of a car’s accelerator, an unexplored hiking trail, a secluded swimming cove or even a simply designed movie poster.

“What is so special about this movie poster?” one may ask, “it is just a house suspended in air by a bunch of balloons.”

“Oh, my dear friend,” I would like to say. “This illustration represents freedom. Imagine for a moment that you could just leave everything behind and explore the world. And, not even in the traditional sense–you wouldn’t need to go through all of today’s politics of selling your house, packing your things, organizing your accounts–oh no, you could simply tie balloons to your house, lift off and be gone. No hassle. No fuss. Simply–a flight of freedom.”

Now I haven’t yet seen the film–it will be released next month in Italy–but, you can bet that I will be one of the first customers in line when the ticket booth opens. Like Disney/Pixar’s last film WALL-E which contains important messages regarding environmental destruction, reliance on technology and obesity; Up also contains messages about today’s American society, and specifically about our common state of thinking in the Future instead of thinking in the Now.

In this story, Carl and Ellie meet as children, fall in love, are inseparable throughout adulthood and share the same dream from when they were young–to explore the South American jungles. But, jobs, health issues and daily life get in the way and before Carl knows it he is old and widowed and has yet to fulfill his dream. Yet, although life sometimes gets away from us, there is always the Now to make a change. And, at 78, Carl decides that Now is the only time he has. So geared with thousands of balloons tied to his house, he let’s himself be lifted UP…UP…and AWAY, to start his adventure and to finally live out his dream.

This message, although told through a simple animated film, is an important one. Each day we have the opportunity to live life how we want to live, yet many of us let go of the balloon we hold in our hands–our dreams–to fulfill the practical side of life with the intention that “someday I can hold start living, someday I can hold that balloon again.”  But, this is pure madness. You don’t hold in your hand, “someday”, you hold in your hand “now.” That is all you have or will ever have. It’s as simple and as complicated as that.

Think about your dreams. Don’t let them float away like a stray balloon; instead, take those dreams, hold them tight, and let them carry you UP.

 

Nostalgia February 7, 2009

After hours of packing…unpacking…repacking…packing…unpacking..repacking…I finally squished a years worth of stuff into two bags and a carry on and walked out my parents door, not to return for another year…or longer. Looking back as the car pulled out of my driveway, I was overcome with mixed emotions. On one hand, I am ecstatic to return to my life in Italy, to be around the language, to live abroad and to be pursuing my passions. I am thankful and grateful for this opportunity, it is everything I have dreamed for and I am excited for this new adventure. On the other hand, knowing that I will miss out on the simple joys of waking up to my dad cooking breakfast, making lunch for my older brother Mark , or drinking a glass of wine with my mom makes me emotional. Sure these are just simple, ordinary things; yet, because I will be living thousands of miles away with an ocean between, I simply can’t do them, and this makes me sad.

My brother Mark is a globetrotter as well and is leaving with his girlfriend Lindy in three days for Guatemala for five weeks. I went into his room to see how his packing was going and after a big brotherly hug, I was in tears. Giant, wet, mascara running tears. Partly because, I’ve been so wrapped up in my on-line life (writing, blogging, facebook, emails etc.) that I’ve hardly hung out with him, one of my best friends, and partly because in a few days and I won’t see him for a year. I am mad at myself for wasting the past month of us actually being home together, because with life, you never know where you are going to end up. What if we never live in the same city again?

The  emotions are  the same for my parents, oldest brother, sister-in-law and nephew. I still fortunately don’t have to say goodbye to them for a few weeks, but I know when I do I will be in tears. You will know it is the day I am leaving if you see me with big, wet, mascara stained cheeks.

I know I am on the right track by following my dreams, but it still doesn’t make it any easier to leave the people I love. To know that I will be missing out on all of the little things, the simple pleasures of ordinary life with family is what makes it the hardest.

Yet, in the cloudy mist of my teary eyes, I know things always work out for a reason. If I was meant to stay, my heart would tell me not to leave. But, my heart is not ready to stay idle, yet anyways.  I have to keep moving forward, I still have so much terrene to explore, so many new things to experience.  This wonderlust heart is part of me. I can’t keep it caged, I have to let it roam free.

 

A Message by George Carlin January 15, 2009

My friend Jamie sent me the email below, and since it touched me when I read it, I thought I would share it with you as well. George Carlin was a comedian from the 70’s and 80’s, and although I hardly knew who he was (besides the ending quote that I more often remember as just the quote from the movie Hitch), his words are powerful and his message is strong. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did…

A Message by George Carlin:

The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings but shorter tempers, wider Freeways, but narrower
viewpoints. We spend more, but have less, we buy more, but enjoy less. We have bigger houses and  smaller families, more conveniences, but less time. We have more degrees but less sense, more knowledge, but less judgment, more experts, yet more problems, more medicine, but less wellness. We  drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too little, watch TV too much, and pray too seldom. We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often. We’ve learned how to make a living, but not a life. We’ve added years to life not life to years. We’ve been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet a new neighbor. We conquered outer space but not inner space. We’ve done larger things, but not better things. We’ve cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul. We’ve conquered the atom, but not our prejudice. We write more, but learn less. We plan more, but accomplish less. We’ve learned to rush, but not to wait. We build more computers to hold more information, to produce more copies than ever, but we communicate less and less. These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion, big men and small character, steep profits and shallow relationships. These are the days of two incomes but more divorce, fancier houses, but broken homes. These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throwaway morality, one night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer, to quiet, to kill. It is a time when there is much in the showroom window and nothing in the stockroom.

Remember: spend some time  with your loved ones, because they are not going to be around forever.

Remember: say a kind word to someone who looks up to you in awe, because that little person soon will grow up and leave your side.

Remember: to give a warm hug to the one next to you, because that is the only treasure you can give with your heart and it doesn’t cost a cent.

Remember: to say, “I love you” to your partner and your loved ones, but most of all mean it. A kiss and an embrace will mend hurt when it comes from deep inside of you.

Remember: to hold hands and cherish the moment for someday that person will not be there again.Give time to love, give time to speak! And give time to share the precious thoughts in your mind.

AND ALWAYS REMEMBER: Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.

George Carlin

 

Auntie Cindy December 23, 2008

Filed under: Daily Life,Random — italicana kitchen @ 6:56 am
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Auntie Cindy and Nephew Thomas

There is something remarkable about being an Auntie. You get cuddly hugs, adorable smiles and goodnight kisses but get to skip the lack of sleep, mounds of laundry, the unavoidable yet plentiful poopy diapers and the 18+ years of monetary support.  Being an auntie is as close as you can come to becoming a mother without the obligation and committment or the hours of painful labor and nine long months without a glass of wine–which, in my opinion is  worse than the actual labor itself!

Although you can never match the bond that is shared between mother and child, as an aunt you still get the overwhelming sense of happiness watching your surrogate child grow and learn new things. Also, as an auntie you develop that sense of ownership and protectiveness that comes with being family.  I can pick up my nephew without asking permission, spoil him rotten when his parents are gone and smack talk anyone who doesn’t think he is just the CUTEST and most ADORABLE little boy in the WORLD—because, yes he is!

And, at the end of the day when Little Thomas gets tired…a little grumpy…and starts wining… I get to give my adorable nephew back to his parents and head out for dinner or drinks with friends. Love yet freedom…now that is one of the best joys of being an auntie!

 

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 Challenge: Explore New Terrene November 15, 2008

You don’t need to quit your job, sell you things, and put everything in storage (ahem, or your parent’s garage–thanks mom and dad!) to make your life into a Traveler’s Terrene.  If you have the time, ambition and finances to do so I would definitely encourage this route as it gives you the most flexibility, freedom, and sense of adventure; however, it may not be practical if you have a mortgage, kids, school, a great career (the list goes on…). Yet, remember that these strings that tie you to an area, do have slack. Sure, you may not be able to jet off to a foreign country or cross an ocean, but you can explore the state and city you live in to get the same sense of adventure that comes with discovering the unknown.

How often is it that we live in an area and the tourist sees and knows more about our own city, because for us it is home not a destination?  I challenge you to transform the city you live into a destination.  Go to the tourist information center and play tourist for a day. After you do that, pick up a map and take a day trip to a nearby city that you’ve never been to for the afternoon. And, if you say you just don’t have time to do even these little things, then simply drive new routes on your way to work, take a bus and watch from the window or go running in a new direction–you’ll be surprised at all of the new little discoveries you find that are even a few blocks  away from your home because you are finally taking the time to LOOK, as tourists do, rather than travelling from point A to B as residents do.

Tonight I am off to Parma. I’m taking my little silver Fiat, a road map and hitting the highway in quest for some unexplored terrene.

Where are you going?