My Mind Goes Back

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It all seems a little backwards to me. Our priorities, the way we are forced to live our lives. I was remembering a time not so long ago when I was sitting in the middle of a square in the heart of Rome. I was tantalized by the music and the way the streets were transformed into romantic tables filled with candlelight and the aroma of tomato sauce and fresh pasta. The people were gathered there in the middle of it all sipping wine while sitting back on the marble steps engaging in conversation. 

I compare that to my own busy life. When I drive  down the street, neighbors are too busy staring into their phones to wave. Family dinners are replaced by 10 quick minutes of shoving food in your face and then rushing to get to the next thing. Home is filled with homework, studying, bills and emails that didn’t get finished during the day. We are racing to get that next grade, the next promotion, the next anxiety attack. We are stressed and exhausted, quite a contrast from my memory of that square. Perhaps the American Dream is actually a nightmare and it’s time to find a way to get back to the living part and remembering what’s really important.

I have a tiny patio out back surrounded by rose bushes and white lights draped overhead. Once in a while, I play that music from the square and my family sits out back as we enjoy bread and pasta and my husband and I sip some red wine. We end our evening with conversation and gelato and for a second I am back there in that square and my heart and my stomach are completely full. 

When You’re Feeling Lost

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I was remembering something that happened a few years ago during our visit to Italy. I remember looking at things to do there and one particular town caught my eye. It was quaint and beautiful, everything I imagined a small town in Italy to be. I remember the frustration over buying our ticket and trying to figure out which platform was the one to board our train. Finally, we were in our seats and the sound of us rolling down the tracks put me right to sleep. We had been going non stop and we had to catch a few zzz’s whenever the schedule allowed.The problem was, my husband fell asleep too so now we had an 11 and 8 year old navigating for us. My daughter eventually woke us up to let us know we had reached our stop and we exited the train. It only took a moment to realize we were in the wrong place. Where were the rolling hills? This place was as flat as a pancake and the whole town seemed abandoned. Luckily there was a McDonalds but we quickly realized no one spoke a word of English. When we said the name of the town, the workers pointed to the right and made a walking motion with their fingers while shaking their head no. We knew now it was too far to walk. We went outside and saw a bus stop and stood there hoping we would figure out what to do. The man there knew we were visitors and pointed to a small shop across the street. My husband went to check it out and came back with four bus tokens. Everytime the train would stop, the man would shake his head no until finally I recognized the town from the pictures and he pointed for us to get off.

The lesson is similar to the one I posted yesterday. There will be times we find ourselves lost in a place we don’t want to be. We may feel scared and panicked and our instinct may be to run as fast as we can. Running in the wrong direction won’t get us anywhere. We must be patient and calm and find a solution despite how uncomfortable we may feel. When we are quiet and settle in, the answers will come. Everything we need will be right there to get us from point A to point B. We just have to believe.    

The Secret To Life

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Have you seen that new Timehop app? It lets you know what you were doing on this day for the last three years. I was amazed to discover how I have spent this day. Three years ago I was in Hawaii, two years ago in Italy and a year ago I was boarding a ship in Turkey to take me to Greece. Not long ago I believed that a particular place could make me feel alive or at peace. Today, I am home where I am meant to be. You know what I’ve discovered after being fortunate enough to travel to so many amazing places? Feeling alive and feeling peace is a place inside of me. It cannot be a destination. You cannot find it on a map. It lives inside of you and if you are blessed enough, it becomes part of who you are. Once you can feel those two things wherever you are, that’s when life truly begins. I am grateful for the travel and grateful for my new found knowledge. Be where you love and love where you are. Maybe that’s the true secret to life. What do you think?

The Kindness of Strangers

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The kindness of strangers is a blessing that is never forgotten. A few years ago my family traveled to Europe. We were enjoying taking the train back and forth to different countries and locations and half the time we were so exhausted we couldn’t remember which country we were actually in. We would speak Italian in France and Spanish in Italy. You can imagine we were pretty confused.

We decided to take the train from Rome to a place called Tivoli. There was a place there with amazing gardens and fountains that I felt I had to see. So, we hopped on the train and my husband and I fell fast asleep. My daughter, being the responsible 12 year old she was at the time, woke us and told us it was time to get off. As we walked toward the town it was completely desolate. It was around lunch time so most of the local businesses were closed and there was no one around. I knew Tivoli was nestled in the hills, and this town we found ourselves walking through was completely flat. I was mortified and anxious and didn’t know what we were going to do so we walked, and walked, and walked until we found a McDonalds. To our silly surprise, not one person spoke a word of English. This was going to be fun. We played a game of charades with two teams that were both terrible at it and finally understood the other team was motioning for us to walk further up the road. We came upon a bus stop and stood there happily ready to get on and take us to God knows where. A man walked up to the bus stop and tried to convey something to us that we didn’t understand. After several minutes, my husband realized we needed a ticket to ride the bus and the man pointed to the store where we could purchase one.

After a while, we were happily riding on the bus and every time it would come to a stop the man would shake a finger at us so we knew it wasn’t time to get off. This continued for the next several minutes until finally he was shaking his head yes. So, there we were in a new town filled with people that didn’t speak English and we had no idea which direction to walk. That is when a woman tapped me on the shoulder and held a map. I was able to point to our destination and she pulled me along. Next thing I knew, I was following her through the town while she rapidly spoke as we strolled along. We actually tried to speak back but knowing neither of us knew what the other was saying, we smiled politely and continued to walk. Before I knew it we were standing in front of The Villa d’Este where we said thank you hoping she’d understand and parted ways. It was a wonderful place and one I will never forget along with the the two strangers that were kind enough to help us find our way there. Here are some of my favorite pictures. If you are ever in Rome, it would be well worth the trip to make your way to this beautiful, magical, heavenly place.

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