Monday, April 25, 2011

Resurrection - Easter Sunday

I can't recall the last time I thought of or participated in any of the Catholic holidays that were so much a part of my life. But the concept of resurrection really resonated with me. The definition that I so can relate to is, "one who returns to life". This made sense and felt incredibly appropriate to honor.

In this past year, much has occurred in and around me. Some spectators say "I've changed", others who have history with me have said, "Welcome back." It's true. I know there is no real change in me but rather a peeling away of the layers of stress, trauma, sadness, confusion to then allow, " my return to life". I can breathe again! Literally, even my allergies are pretty much gone!

In my conversations throughout this year, never have I declared regret or shame for the choices of my past. It certainly wasn't all conscious to cover up my life with these challenging skins, but I do believe in being where one is meant to be to learn the lessons. At some point I suspect I'll be able to look back at those skins and experience the joys that wove their way throughout them. For now though, the situation of releasing the skins that weighed me down so much (literally almost 30 pounds!) is all I can really manage. Fortunately, I give myself no time frame and thus the freedom to observe the natural unfolding is calm, peaceful and so gratifying. I was going to go to Church yesterday to acknowledge the importance of this personal resurrection, but I felt more in tune reading and writing in my bedroom. Reconfirming my personal sense that I am spirit and spirit is anywhere and everywhere one wants it to be. I relish in these contemplative times when I am alone with my thoughts and plans having no outside interference. That's probably the most ecstatic part of my present life that I relish in: no outside interference. Again, I give myself plenty of latitude to let this phase play out as it is mean to.

Freedom to resurrect
Freedom to return to life
Freedom to truly live

Monday, February 7, 2011

Fearless Friendships (FF)

We know who they are. They are the friends who see you, give room to your vulnerabilities, mistakes, confusions and flip flopping while placing no judgment. They offer that safe place to be our complete imperfect selves. They offer a place where the marinating of ideas are fostered, where the big life changes leap from. They are friends who love watching and partaking in your human process. They are our fearless friends.

This writing is to celebrate those of you who are fearless friends and who have fearless friends. I know I certainly have them and I hope I am a fearless friend as well.

FFs are expansive, ever dynamic, and flexing. They know when to be gentle and when to be tough. They are selfless. FFs know no boundaries in the communion of you and they.

FF become evident during times of struggle and joy. Change and transition is not an isolated experience. It ripples into every aspect of one's life and so when one is in transition it is likely that place, time, work, play, friends, loves will feel some effect. Transitions can be painful or liberating or both.

I've been in a fairly wild transition and my FFs are hanging with me all the way; they are applauding, laughing, crying, and basically cheering me on. It's so much fun!

I'm reminded to live my life with trust, to see and choose opportunity and not shy away from adventure.

There's an adventure brewing... Hop on board!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Risky Business

TO RISK OR NOT TO RISK: Which is more regretful?

This question has been seriously weighing on me all day. I've written this blog in my head so many times (while I ate, bathed, walked, cleaned) and I'll be really pissed off if it doesn't come through in print as well as it came through in my talking mind.

The question is prompted from thoughts around "regrets in life"... It seems to me that most regrets are due to lack of action stalled by fear. Personal fear, inherited fear from family, friends and societal fear. FEAR (False Events that Appear to be Real) - borrowed from a self-help book I can not for the life of me remember the title! Sorry.

The work is to really look at the fears that present themselves via the above channels and then recognize the relevance to you. And so one is left to dig deep into the reasons behind the "personal" degree of fear, the "family/friends" degree of fear and finally "society's" degree of fear. As each have their own brand of value unique to you and your decision making process.

When I think back to the last time this question and this exercise surfaced in my life it was between 1990-91. For those of you who knew me then, you know that the "World Series Earthquake" hit San Francisco in October of '89 while I was the HR Director at Booz, Allen. Without getting into the details of that experience, except to note that my apartment building fell off it's foundation and it was deemed unsafe, know that it left me feeling exhilerated. Allowed to pack a mere two suitcases of clothes and, of course, my passport everything else went into Allied Van Storage. With my life's accumulations reduced down to a steel box, this constituted mega freedom! I am such a predictable Sagittarian...freedom is and has been my ultimate aphrodisiac! It then dawned on me that this was a "golden opportunity". So what did I do contrary to ALL? Kept everything in storage, moved into a friend's home, saved money, cashed out a heavily penalized retirement plan, quit my job and camped across Europe, Africa and Asia for a year. I was 37. I'll list briefly the fears that surfaced when I made this decision:
  • the economy sucks (there was a crash in 1989)
  • you're giving up a great job
  • you'll catch aids in Africa
  • why not go to Norway or Sweden; it's safer (this was from my father)
  • you'll loose your career
  • how could you do this alone? you'll be lonely; go with a friend at least...
  • are YOU pregnant? (as I was originally leaving for 9 months)
  • you'll never last camping; see you in a week! (colleagues only saw the manicured side to me)
None of the above were my fears; in fact, I had none. I recognized "perfect timing".... I was single, had a little money saved, everything was in storage and possessed that right degree of confidence that I could return and simply pick up where I left off. This was an opportunity I could not pass up.

Now you might be figuring out why this question has surfaced today. I am single, have a little money saved and everything is in storage and so what might I want to do that if I don't, I will regret.

Stay tuned.

I would love to hear from you as to how you have worked through fear and how often should we ask the question, "are we living a life with no regrets'?

Monday, January 17, 2011

I'm back!

Just figured out how to tap back into this blog. Had lost track of the associated email address and password and so now I hope to start up blogging again! Thanks!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Arrivedeci Roma, Bologna, and friends!

Wow, how is it possible that I am heading home (where is home???). For me, this time doesn't seem like a month, don't know about you? Although looking over my posts, it certainly has been full and varied. As I've said before, now it's time to marinate this past month with my new present. I expect it to be quite a delicious merge.

I'm absolutely in love with Bologna! It's got the right balance of everything. Size seems manageable; population is mature, diverse, friendly, and stylish; traffic doesn't seem to really exist????; piazza's galore; colorful architecture at every glimpse....and the food, oh my! I checked out a language school here and already have my vision of returning each year for a 2-3 week course incorporating culture, art and cooking with language.

As enjoyable as this city had been upon arrival and easy to get about, hang out, people watch, etc., the real highlight was when Maria, Shastro and Mark showed up.

Shastro, Maria and I continued to maintain our somewhat telepathic relationship carried over from our fight from Alb to DC. I knew they were arriving yesterday but not sure about the time. Right when I requested that my hotel "turn on my telephone" (around 11am) and was about to call their B&B, my telephone rang with Shastro's voice singing, "we're here!". They knew not where they were and so a major landmark is the stunning an towering bronze statute of Neptune in Piazza Maggiore and so we planned to meet there in 30 minutes.

With only a 5-7 minute walk for me, I headed out and while standing at the traffic light waiting for the little red walking man to turn green, I turn to my right and Shastro is standing right beside me! Of course, we three made a personal scene. It was lovely; got to meet Mark at that time (a friend of theirs from Maui) and we four grew in our friendship and familiarity in Bologna over the next 24 hours.

Fortunately, we were all hungry and what better way to reacquaint ourselves than over the infamous Ragu Bolognese ("Donna, Maria has a recipe of this that actually calls for cooking the meat in milk...isn't' that wild?").

In this great city, with perfect weather and great joy we ate, talked, giggled, hugged, kissed, photographed, gossiped, toured, shopped, and gelatoed (a new word!)for hours.

We had a big night planned with a 10:30pm Milonga Tango Dance out in the suburbs of Bologna, so we headed back for an attempted 1-2 hour nap.

Earlier, we had scouted and scoped out a recommended restaurant and so by 8pm we were sitting down again ready to feast on our dinner.

With our bellies full of good bread, wine, pasta, pork, steak, etc., we walked a bit to digest before getting in Shastro's car (they drove from Venice; only 1 hour) and while Mark and I were chatting away in the back seat, Shastro and Maria did a honorable job in navigating the roads and roundabouts in getting us to this Milonga event. I "dressed" for the event and knew I would not dance but be a contented spectator. Mark offered much dialogue around the styles and ideals of this dance and so I continue to be intrigued and will check it out when I get home to Santa Fe.

It was quite warm in Bologna; however, I thought my slinky tank dress might be too cool by late evening and so I visited a store on my way to meet the gang and purchased a well-used sarong for the night. I would have been miserable as this dance was outdoors and by 11p, midnight, it got cool. Without the dance to warm me, I sat gratefully contented wrapped in my sarong during the evening.

As mentioned, this was an outdoor event in the middle of a park right next to a gelato store with a round, marble dance floor and a DJ with large lights and speakers. Shastro knew the DJ and so that brought good seats to watch the evening's dancers. Soon, Shastro and Maria got up and tried it out and Mark very courageously went to try to find a female who looked available (it did seem to be a couples event and not so much an open dance). Watching my friends Tango under the Bologna sky was a treat.

By 1pm, we decided to return back to town and call it a night.

Back in bed by 2pm, I suspected an early rise with no much sleep which was okay as now I was beginning to emotionally prepare for my return home with thoughts of organizing when to leave Bologna, getting to Rome hotel, leaving Rome hotel, etc. It's all quite easy but one does need to have a little plan.

As suspected, I was awake around 7am and started to get organized as I had to vacate my room by 11am. Went down stairs by 9am for my last breakfast at Hotel Paradise of my "usual" 2 hard boiled eggs; 1 cappuccino and 1 americano.

My phone rang around 10 and Maria and I met for some girl time before Shastro and Mark met us a bit later. After checking the train schedule and reconfirmed that there was a train basically every hour from Bologna to Rome (it's about a 2 hour ride), it was easy to decide to leave whenever I was ready. Spending more time in Bologna with my friends was more appealing than returning to Rome earlier than necessary.

And so Maria and I have a lovely morning, shopping, talking and finding more enjoyable places for future visits. Shastro and Mark eventually met us and we continued to enjoy the company and city having lunch at a favorite spot "Eataly" which is a modern idea in a four story old space. It is a book store and restaurant within a fabulous space of light with Italian products galore! This place would be a major hangout over time.

With our bellies full and our shopping complete, our walk continues to expose new shops and a sweet gelatoria with a colorful display of ice cream popsicles. Of course, the pistacchio spoke to me and it was glorious. I ate this with gusto as I knew it would be my last really good gelato for a long time!

We naturally strolled toward my hotel so I could pick up my luggage and make my way to the train station. Our parting was loving with hugs and kisses and promises of future rendezvous whether in Italy, New Mexico or Maui -- I so trust this will happen.

I was now ready.

The hotel staff was lovely and so even leaving them was bitter sweet; decided on a taxi as it was quite warm and although my luggage is smaller, it's still cumbersome and so I hoped into a air conditioned taxi, bought my ticket to Rome for 58 euros and waited only about 30 minutes for the train. It was now about 3:45pm and so arrived after a comfortable, cool train ride around 5:45p and now know the Rome train station so well, I just zipped through the crowds to find the exit that makes my trek to Hotel Katty the smoothest and easiest.

Mama Katty welcomed me back and already had my "gorilla" in my room waiting for me. Paid my last hotel bill, ordered my taxi and after a much needed shower and a review of of my remaining euros, decided to go to my favorite restaurant for dinner (although I really didn't need to eat again! but I believe food is the best way for me to spend my remaining euros!

After a gratifying meal of proscuitto, salad, good wine and bread, I returned to my hotel room and proceeded to get ready for my early morning departure.

I slept best in Sicily and Bologna as my rooms were really nice. As nice and clean as my room was in Rome, the trick is to not have a room on the registration floor (didn't have a choice this time) as it's a bit noisy and Rome, in general, seems noisier. So sleep was restless but no matter, woke early, got bags together and had at least 30 minutes at my morning cafe for my usual chocolate croissant, capuccino and cafe americano.

My taxi driver, Dino, was already at the hotel and so I got my bags and with his help, me and my bags got stuffed into his tiny car while we drove to the Rome airport.

This part of travel is never really that much fun. Airports are confusing and Rome in particular seems to have a lot of ups and downs and around corners and back around and going here and going there. Hardly sensible but, one goes with the flow. I just wanted to get to the point where I could check in my two bags.

You may recall upon leaving ALB, I had to pay $200.00 because of my overweight luggage and so my return was with the expectation that I would only pay $35 for my 2nd baggage. Sure enough, I did accompish this with a little bit of transfer (5 pounds) of stuff from the gorilla to my other smaller suitcase, but it all worked out!

Got to the Rome airport early, had another coffee and began to figure out how many hours it will take me to arrive in Albuquerque.

My Rome to DC flight was 9.5 hours, had a scheduled 4 hour layover in DC to then fly to ALB for another 4 hours, so right there we've got 17.5 hours of travel.

With my early rise at 6am added to my awake hours and my DC layover extended to 6 hours total (fight delay), I arrived in ALB last night having been awake (if one can call it that) for a total of 25 hours!

I was out of it.

But, hung in there, arrived in ALB around 11pm last night, caught my shuttle to hotel, checked in, went to room and stopped down at the bar for a big glass of milk!

Watched a bit of TV and slept fairly well until 5am this morning. Suspect this jet lag will take about a week with me creeping closer and closer to my Santa Fe time reality.

This morning, after a traditional american breakfast of bacon and eggs, I'll catch the Sandia shuttle up to Santa Fe where my buddy Kathrynn will pick me up.

Heard over the weekend that my casita won't be ready until around 4pm, which is not fun, but oh well and am exciting about "landing" there early evening.

Today, is day one is another new adventure. My being single, living on my own again with Michael and I gracefully finding our new relationship while we live in the same community.

Wish me luck everyone!

Don't know where I'm headed but loving the journey so far.

P.S. I don't think this is the end of this blog.....

Monday, June 7, 2010

Parma, Proscuitto and Parmegiano!

So, today I woke early and caught the train to Parma.

What is so outstanding about Italy (maybe all of Europe) is the proximity of the train stations to the great parts of town. It's not like you have to figure out "how" to get to the train station. They are always walking distance away.

And so, walked to the train station, purchased my ticket for 5.8 euros to Parma and I would be there in 1 hour. I had only 2 goals: 1) to have lunch there (famous for prosciutto and parmigiana reggiano; and 2) ideally to take a tour of one of the dairies that makes the cheese. By the way, this cheese has been made here for 700 years and it's made with the skimmed "evening" milk and the full cream for the "morning", then cultured, heated and then aged for 2 years Now that is a process.

Upon arriving, with my handy 3 pages about Parma, ripped from my 2004 Lonely Planet guide, I set out for the Tourist Information to 1st organize my tour of how one makes the cheese.

Well, this is the 1st time my 2004 guide failed me. The farmers (?) are no longer offering the tours as they were hugely interrupting the work and so no tour today. Slightly disappointed. Oh well, I'll just have to eat the stuff.

Did my usual walk everywhere without knowing where I was going, took a few photos as it was a bit cloudy today (but still warm) and found my way to the Piazza Garibaldi to dine for lunch.

My needs were simple and sure enough I found a cafe with a salad of rustica prosciutto, mozzarella, pomedoro, parmigiana. This of course came with bread. What more can a girl want.

It's true that this prosciutto really does melt in one's mouth. I love this stuff. I'll be on a mission when I return to Santa Fe to try to find some of this imported.

It was a full day in Parma; I liked the town. Smaller than Bologna and everyone is on a bicycle. Pretty cool. But, I have to say, thus far Bologna is my favorite. It's just so beautiful and busy and full of live and character. Tomorrow I will check out some language schools and hope they meet my expectation.

All and all it was a simple day. Returned to Bologna around 4pm and hung out in my room for a bit...showered, organized, etc.

Went back out around 6:30p and decided on having a "couple" (yes, a couple) of beers. This is unheard of in my world! But, the moment seized me and there I was sitting in an outdoor cafe, feeling pretty hot in my summer skirt and top (I think I'm tanned too??) and wanting some attention but really didn't get any except from the pigeons. Oh well! Two beers later and a bowl full of salty potato chips (I've really been craving salt), I headed home (I'm actually in an apartment).

My long time friend, Suzanne, who is British living in London, she and I have a date on Skype tonight and so I wanted to get back to my place to make that call.

On the the way, I stopped at reception and ordered a pot of tea for my room. I like this place. If you ever come to Bologna, I highly recommend Hotel Paradise. Bologna books up quite fast and so I've had to change rooms a few times but the people are really friendly and incredibly accommodating and don't forget, they serve hard-boiled eggs for breakfast!

Today was also a shopping day. i felt a sense of freedom since I saved some money in Sicily that I could spend some in Bologna! The real craze here are sandles that are actually boots; they're wild. Not for me but I think I may go "half-way" and purchase a modest (for Italy that is) pair of Gladiator sandles....there's so many to choose from and I'd like to get something that clearly is not from the U.S. Also picked up a cute dress and some short sexy skirts....I need a new wardrobe now that I'm "single"!

Mostly, haven't really spent much beyond hotel, trains and food....tomorrow may be different though with my new buddies coming to Bologna for Tango!

That's all for now, will chat domani!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Give me eggs!

Okay, so I'm an egg girl. My Italian DNA is missing the "dulce" chip! I want my egg breakfast! Done with sweet pastries, chocolate croissants, etc. as finger-licking as they are (literally). Fortunately, my hotel in Bologna offers a breakfast that has hard boiled eggs! Yeah! Who knew this would make me so happy.

Out walking again today but in an entirely different direction as I head out to the MoMBA which is the Modern Art Museum. It's Sunday so the high-end shops are closed but all the markets are bustling and so I got a bit distracted at the "sun glass stand". Purchase made and moved on....

Really, really enjoyed the Fellini retrospective. What an interesting, provocative man. Can't wait to re-watch some of his films, especially, La Dolce Vita! Maybe we'll do a movie night at my new abode when I get back. Did you know that in the 50s, when Hollywood went to Italy to save money, the movie sets were kept in tight secrecy. This secrecy inspired the common man to grab his camera and taunt the movie stars at night when they were off set and dining, etc. Fellini coined the word paparazzi for one of these camera men. This is how and when this obsessive photography profession began.

This was a well presented retrospective. Fellini began as a sketch artist for comedy magazines and so many, many of his sketches were on display. He also wrote for these comic books as well and then started to write screen plays collaborating with a friend. His directing took off from there. He went into psychoanalysis for a while to recapture his dreams and step into his subconscious...a lot of these experiences are evident in his direction, etc., especially his fascination with the circus. For a while when he was younger, he almost ran away to the circus due to his love of acrobatics. Trippy guy. Anyway, having some historical knowledge of him will make watching his films more interesting.

Timed my departure from MoMBA to walk across to another part of town and have some famous pasta Bolognese. Hmmm, good. Home-made fettucini with a meat based tomatoe sauce, some pane rustica (whole wheat bread) and a simple greens and tomatoe salad. I was quite content. I chose a street with outdoor dining that seems to always have some street musicians there to entertain. I was in Bolognese heaven.

Today, I decided to return to my habit of taking an afternoon siesta (pardon the spanish) and give me body, legs, feet a rest before going out tonight for some gelato.

I've looked up 3 Italian Language schools in Bologna that I'm going to check out and see what they "feel" like. I'm not sure I've expressed in this blog my disappointment at the Ascoli "Accademia", but it just wasn't what I was expecting. No problem, but I do want something more structured with the right atmosphere as well as social and cultural outings. I can see myself returning each year to the "right" community and continue to study the Italian language. I've really loved the exploration of this language and hope to continue some sort of study when I return to Santa Fe.

Finding the right community is part of this process. Now that I have made a fairly confident assumption that the North is right for me, I want to check out some of these communities and see "where" exactly. So, I will look into the schools here in Bologna and tomorrow I'm doing a day trip to Parma as this is a town that Lonely Planet says one must not miss if in this region and they have a language school there too.

Parma's population is about 170,000 while Bologna's is 370,000 and so I'm curious at what Parma's population size feels like in comparison to Ascoli and Bologna. What is helpful to Bologna is that the "center" has such little traffic allowed and so although it's big, it doesn't feel crowded or noisy. Pretty remarkable.

Didn't carry my camera today and so will bring to Parma and do a photo ops day in Bologna on Tuesday.

Almost pistacchio gelato time! Caio for now.