A Traveler’s Terrene

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

Why, hello there. February 17, 2012

Filed under: Italy — italicana kitchen @ 6:26 pm
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Thanks to a reader who recently wrote me and asked me about my whereabouts, I am writing this blog post today. I always find that there are people or events that come unexpectedly into your life to pull you back on track towards achieving your dreams.  When this happens we have two choices: to make the changes needed or to let the moment and motivation pass. This choice is life’s little way to say, “Hey! What the heck are you doing getting lost in daily routines when you have a purpose. Your life mission is to follow that passion inside of you, to go after that dream!”  However, more often than not, these choices are often overlooked, tuned out or simply discarded like a crumpled piece of notebook paper with a few scribbled words.  Well, today, thanks to a reader I’ll call *S*, I am writing again. Why? Because, it’s my passion and what I love to do. Why haven’t I been writing? Simply put: fear.

Looking at this word, I want to laugh. I am not usually the gal that fears anything. Quitting my job, leaving my family and friends to travel the world trip—done. Sky diving, bungee jumping, canyon swinging, white water rafting—loved it. Moving to Italy by myself where I knew absolutely no one and had to find a job and build a friend network from scratch—bring it on.  Writing on my blog or writing my book—absolutely terrifying. I should clarify. It’s not the writing process that scares me, but rather the truth-telling-process. I have this inner need to write and tell the truth but am often blocked by my conscience. I want to write about real life experiences and about taboo subjects but once I start my mind interferes:  “If I say that will that person get mad at me?”, “If I talk about sex, what will my parents, my colleagues or boss think?”

I envy those who are so brutally sincere that when someone asks them if she looks fat in her outfit, the response is yes—regardless if it is their relative, friend, co-worker or a complete stranger. I say no—or, often times, skirt around the response by suggesting how it could look better like, “That skirt would look great with a long sweater,” where in reality I’m thinking, “OMG, get a longer sweater and cover that muffin top!”  But, really, how can I say those things out loud? Let alone write them down for the world to see?  I can just imagine all the people with their voodoo dolls poking me in the eyes, heart and, if they’re truly perverted, bum hole.

So that’s where I’ve been the past year since posting to this blog—in this wonderful state of non productiveness when I have so many stories and experiences to share—living in Italy, snowboarding in the Alps, falling madly in love, and being on the verge of moving in with my Italian boyfriend (and his family!).

The truth. That word is a loaded gun. What I want to shoot out of it, what I want this blog to be about, is that when you take that majestic leap towards following your passions, great things truly start coming your way. That is the truth that I know, and that is the truth that I want to continue writing about. I think different writers serve different purposes. Some make you laugh while others make you cry. Maybe I will never have the courage to tell you that the food you just cooked smells like a nursing home and tastes like dirt mixed with tomato sauce, but I do have the courage to tell you that there is nothing stopping you from achieving your dreams if you go out on that limb and try. So, for now, until I grow some bull-sized balls, I’ll just do what I do best and focus on that.

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Your Life Descent… November 18, 2009

Filed under: Inspiration and Motivation — italicana kitchen @ 10:16 pm
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If your life was a movie what would you want to watch? If your life was a story what would you want to read? If you think of life this way…that with each second a camera is watching you…a pen is writing what you are doing, you may choose you actions differently. Life is not a dress rehearsal. There is no practice. You need to perform as though you are enacting the grand finale each and every day. Because in all actuality it could be. The crude fact of life is that you may die any second of any day. There is no certainty. Life is like water. Some days it may flow, others it may freeze, and still others it may dry up into nothing. There is no control over what happens to you–whether you become rain, hail, snow, or vapor–but you can choose that in the moments before outside forces enact on who and what you are, you lived your life to the fullest, and made the most of what you were in those moments you fell from the sky.

Life is simple. In the end, you blend into the trillion snowflakes that have fallen before you, the million balls of crystallized ice that have covered the ground, or the uncountable raindrops that have splashed across nameless faces on a warm summer’s night. When you touch your final destination, you become just like everyone else….but as you are falling from the sky, no matter what form or shape you take, you have control of how you fall. Slow…fast…gently… abruptly. You may not be able to change your size, texture or form, but you certainly can alter one thing…your descent.  It is up to you and only you on how you want to fall from the sky and what kind of imprint you want to leave on the ground below.

 

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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

What it means to be Courageous January 29, 2009

My friend Linea is courageous; her story, inspirational. She is one of the millions of people who suffer from bipolar, yet so many of whom are too afraid to talk about there illness. Her mother, Cinda, teaches about mental health conditions, yet as a mother had to watch her daughter spiral into suicidal depression. Together they have written a book that broaches this topic from both angles, as a person afflicted with bipolar disorder, and a loved one’s family fighting to save a life. Together they share their experience in hopes to raise awareness and bring hope to those who are affected with bipolar.

Because of the current stigmas of bipolar in today’s society, many chose to remain silent, paralyzed by the fear of what others may think or how they would react if someone was to find out. Yet, this illness needs awareness. And, frankly–and this is just my opinion–I don’t like the word “illness” as most medical journals describe it. The word sounds cold and sterile, making you uneasy before you know what it means or understand what it is. The word “disorder” is a bit better. Imagine your  bedroom in disorder–clothes scattered on the floor, books strewn on the desk and the bed is unmade. Is a messy room scary? Is a messy room horrible? No. A messy room is life. Sometimes you just don’t have time to make your bed, or do your laundry. Sometimes things in your room are in disorder, just like, the emotions and thoughts in one’s head for people afflicted with bipolar. And, whereas you are responsible for your messy room, a person with bipolar gets the raw end of the deal–he/she didn’t chose to have  bipolar, it is a brain disorder that happens to them.

So this time, imagine that instead of you making the mess in your room, a stranger comes into your room and starts trashing it–clothes are ripped from the hangers, the sheets torn off the bed, and someone (that bastard!) ripped all of the pages from your favorite book and chucked them across the floor. Now, further imagine that this happens everyday. Or, maybe not even every day, but maybe on a day that you were really really really happy, and then you came home to find your room in disarray. I would be angry at life. I would be depressed. And, depression and feelings of hopelessness are two of the biggest symptoms common with bipolar which can often spiral to more harmful moods or actions:

“As I moved through depression, mania, suicidal ideation, drugs, alcohol, an overdose, self-mutilation, and bulimia I knew I needed to make a difference for others struggling with the same demons. Hospitalized with a 24 hour one-on-one hospital aide I could not help but cry for those less fortunate than me. I cried for those unable to get the help they needed due to financial needs and many other issues.”–Linea Johnson

Fortunately for Linea, she had a loving family and supportive friends that were able to get her through her worst of times–she survived to tell her story. Unfortunately, however, many people afflicted with bipolar don’t tell anyone and they become suicidal before they can get help. If you have any of these symptoms, I encourage you to talk to someone. You are not alone. If you know someone with these symptoms, I encourage you to offer your support–and, if that is not enough, then help them get treatment or seek a doctor for medication.

Don’t be afraid to speak about this condition, there are millions dealing with bipolar everyday. It’s life, just like a messy room.  Things in life happen, but it’s our reaction to the situation that marks who really are. Be strong. Be courageous. Talk to someone, and get help if you need it. And, as Linea puts it, “bipolar is not an illness, but added wisdom.”

To find out more on bipolar, and to follow Linea and Cinda’s book go to their website

To learn about Linea’s struggle with bipolar and read words of inspiration, check out her blog.

To learn about Cinda’s role as a professor in special education and her experience as a mother of child with bipolar, refer to her blog

 

If you never ask… you’ll never get an answer. January 27, 2009

When I sent my question to Paulo Coelho five days ago, I half expected it would be lost among the hundreds if not thousands of emails he probably receives, after all he gets 230,000 unique visitors a month and he can only answer one reader’s question a day. But, being the optimistic person I am, I sent the email anyways. After all, when have I ever not done something just because the odds were against me?

Well…* drum roll please*….I’m am delighted to say that my email was chosen to appear on Paulo Coehlo’s blog! I feel honored that he chose my question and gracious for the time he took to respond. Coehlo has a true gift in bringing inspiration to many people’s life, especially my own. Seeing my words next to his further ignites my belief that anything is possible….you just have to let go of your fears, push past your doubts and go for it!

“…keep on knocking every door. It’s always difficult in the beginning, but if you truly believe in what you’re doing, keep on running those risks. Life tend to be very generous with those that follow their dreams,” writes Coelho in an earlier blog post.

My dream is to be an author. And, obviously I still have a very long road ahead of me, but like Coehlo says, if you keep pursuing your dreams and stay true to your path, things tend to fall into place.

Go to Paulo Coehlo’s blog to read my question and his response!

And, don’t forget to pick up a copy of The Alchemist: this is a must read and a truly inspiring story.