Mid Term, Mid Shift

I am half way through my term studying in Italy. It is hard to believe but it is true. I look at my calendar and cannot believe I only have a little over five weeks and I will be back home. Here is a collection of little “notices” about life here…

Italians walk looking straight ahead, not to the side or down at the ground as one would think they would with the beautiful sights and uneven cobble stones. I have learned through my daily walks to school and home that it is because one gets extremely dizzy and loses balance if line of sight is not steady. This applies to the greater picture as well.

I get up everyday looking forward to my day and the experiences that it will bring. Yes, I am tired, sore, cold, hungry and have too little time to accomplish all I need to do BUT I know I will see great art, have a cappucino break several times, stop and talk to my friends and colleagues, learn amazing things and eat tasty well prepared food. This makes it all worth it. It is balanced. When Italians get tired they stop and rest, when they are hungry they stop and eat and when they need a little shot of divinity it is around every single corner.

I will miss “my hill” and our daily time together. It gives me health, a fabulous view and solitude in which to meditate.

A walk home is never just a walk home…it is smiles to passing people, a stop at the art store to buy a paint brush, a stop at the corner market for wine, pausing in the doorway of the upholstery shop to watch the man bent over his work and listen to his classical music, deep inhalations when passing leather stores with their doors open and lit up display windows full of every color of leather purses imaginable, a stop for gelato…I could take hours to get home here.

Life is very different here, not better or worse just different and I love the rhythm, smell, taste and feel of it all.  Italian life revolves around a social structure not economic or political…at least at the street level and daily existence. This from the perspective of one who has only been here for a few weeks and barely brushed the surface. I know that family is the core of existence here and it shows.

Duomo in Siena

Chad and I went to the Duomo in Siena and went inside the cathedral. This is our walk there from our apartment which is located in the Chiocciola contrada or snail contrada. We stopped after the cathedral visit and had food in a restaurant. Chad loves the pizza here and eats it daily. I love the wine and drink it daily…he is also a wine convert. How can you not be in Italy? I haven’t edited these photos as I just don’t have the battery life here that I do back in the states and we are managing with one usb stick for internet and one voltage converter. Ah life is tough! Not. The amazing view from our garden makes everything so worth it. Those will be the next photos I post. Ciao! ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

Italian Shoes and Bombing Down Hills

Italy is known for their fabulous leather shoes. With the streets made of cobblestone and the homes with stone floors I believe that the crafting of fine quality shoes was a necessity for the Italians. We have stone floors in our apartment and spending all of our time on stone flooring has really shown us the necessity of wearing good quality shoes. After awhile your bones feel like they are readjusting in your body.

Chad found a couple smooth non cobblestone streets to bomb down on his skateboard. They are very high and very long streets. He filmed his first two runs down them on his gopro. I was very impressed with the Italian lack of shock seeing a person skateboarding down the middle of the road in traffic. Sylvia my school director said no one in Siena skates and so there are no rules about skating here…there may be after Chad gets done with Siena! He will be known here for sure. I want to take him to the fortress soon, it is the perfect place for street skating, with steps and smooth surfaces.

The Italians have a unique way of accepting whatever comes their way, whether it be skaters in the middle of the street, power outages, late buses or a man urinating on a statue in the piazza (part of acceptance ritual to the university). The rules set up here have more to do with making life enjoyable for the whole and less to do with power and control. It is very much in line with a belief of live and let live. But more so in that they wish true prosperity and enjoyment for all.

 

Forehead to Floor

We are in the throes of packing up the apartment for storage. The sound of our voices echo off the bare walls. My son, Chad says it isn’t a home anymore. While we put on our smiles everyday before greeting each other, this self imposed limbo is taking it’s toll on each of us. Neither of us want to say to anyone or each other how much this feels like loss with the associated heartache. The true friends don’t say, “how ridiculous, you are going to Italy, be happy!” The ones who keep it real understand that there are requisite good by’s to say and much to let go before embracing the new. These real ones are my mirrors at moments when it becomes too much and my forehead touches the floor. 

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Those floor touching moments are so grounding. The moment of release, when our ego/will succumbs to the emotional moment and for a split second all is completely lost and found. The yogi’s seek it out on the mat. The Buddhist monks put forehead to floor daily in prayer. For me it is a battle of gravity. I will hold my head up, I will not bow down to my fears and insecurities. Until I am taken out at the knees. The more courageous, willful, driven and motivated, the more forehead to floor moments needed to remind me that this is where it lives. Here on the ground, in the earth, the center of life, the base, the root of all life. Not up there in the clouds where the wind blows but down here where my toes dig in and the creepy crawlies make tunnels. 

I am a dreamer of the worst kind. I actually believe that my dreams will come true. What happens when dreams don’t stay dreams? Whether a dream begins to be real or you release it, the emotions are the same, fear, loss, mixed with hope, and elation. You feel the sun on your face and your forehead touches the floor often. And you let everything go over and over again. You say goodbyes. You cry. You reassess priorities. You adjust figures.  You reach for something that is only a partial outline in your mind’s eye. You shape, mold and fabricate that vapor dream into something you can touch, smell, taste and see. You create new right out of thin air. This is what it is about, what you are about. What I am about,  What moves us. Creation. Creating a new life, a new dream, a new reality, a new forehead to floor moment. We have come full circle, let’s begin again. 

4 days until storage move. 22 days until we fly to Italy. 

P.S. Sun salutation has taken on a new meaning for me. It is all about this forehead to floor…look it up. 

Dreaming of where I am

I am 46 years old and I am just now learning to be happy with where I am now, doing what I am doing now and knowing what I know now. Every year I make a manifestation collage of places I want to visit, things I want to accomplish, dreams I want to come true. It is a wonderful thing…it really is. It keeps hope alive and gives me something to focus on, hanging directly across from my bed. Last year every single cut out photo symbolizing a desired manifestation came true in some form or another. It wasn’t always as I had intended but it was curiously amusing how many different ways one thing can manifest. Something for another blog entry. I kept a close eye on the board this year, just to see what it was developing. For about 2 weeks it looked as though a long held and highly cherished dream of mine that has monopolized a large part of my collages for years was about to come true. In fact the reality of it matched the magazine cut out almost perfectly.

I have long cherished the dream of having an artist’s retreat, where fellow creatives can come and retreat and/or hold workshops, educate and share their wealth of information. I envisioned sitting at a long table with a diverse group of people sharing food and drink under a deeply dark starry sky. A place, ideal for this setting came open in Costa Rica. It was so close to a realization for me that I could taste the rain forest mist in my mouth and hear the hummingbirds outside the windows of the restaurant. I slept, ate, and breathed arrangements for this to manifest. I researched all there was to to know about moving, living and thriving in Costa Rica. The deeper I delved into what the reality of living there meant to me, the more parts of myself I had to examine and bring into light for the answers. It was a wonderful assessment of what “I” really want. Something that I just hadn’t done in quite awhile and now had the catalyst to do it.

I realized that I want my family around me. I love my children. And not just because they are MY children. I like their minds, their company and their energy. They really aren’t children anymore and I would use the word “offspring” but it sounds really stiff. My daughter is married and due to have my first granddaughter in December. My son is 18 and still lives at home but travels often with his skate team. I invited them to come with me on this dream journey. They all gave it fair consideration but ended up declining the offer. This was a blow.

I have always clung to my dreams and felt that the worst possible thing to ever happen to someone is not death but giving up on your dreams. It was a fate worse than death. I went through a range of emotions likened to grief. I was grieving the death of a dream that had been my companion for a very long time. It was a dark couple of weeks and I felt hopelessness creep in. A type of resignation set in that I wasn’t comfortable with. I have a friend who I text with daily and we have surprisingly long and deep conversations by text in the middle of work days. While I was processing this loss he asked me in his characteristic way, “what is stopping you from going?” Up until this point I had been focusing on this decision before me, of whether I go without my children or stay without my dream. It had become all consuming like something does when you give it that much power over you. I had blinders on and could not see anything peripheral  My friend has this way of pointing out what should be the obvious to me and it helps me see things clearly. He and I could quite possibly solve all the world problems if we ever had time to talk face to face!

The light bulb moment was that perhaps real happiness is being happy with where you are and with what you are doing at the present time. I  realized that what makes me happy is my children, my family and my friends. I would be unhappy to live far from them and only see them occasionally. That made me think about the fact that I have that…here and now. Then I began looking back through my past and realized that I had always been on the move and when not on the move, I was thinking or planning of being on the move. My happiness was over there…always. I almost missed it. I almost missed what makes me truly happy because it is right here under my nose, within my arms reach and right now. I think I may have set up this precedent long ago and it became a pattern. When I was a child, I was a dreamer and due to my chaotic homelife I always wanted to be somewhere else. Reading books helped with that need to be somewhere else and then as soon as I could, I left home and I kept going. One home to the next. One life to the next.

The feeling of grief was replaced with peace and a deep sense of happiness at feeling like I belonged to myself at last.  Not attached to a place or surroundings. I belong to my present wherever my body, mind and spirit are at physically.  I don’t feel like anything was lost. I feel like something valuable was gained. I can be happy where I am right now, doing what I am doing and I can still dream of doing all of the things on my manifestation collage. I can do them from where I am. As another wise friend told me, “do it from here, have an artist’s retreat for a weekend once a year, then get bigger and let it unfold.” Dreams do come true, in the most amazingly unpredictable ways. Keep on dreaming everyone.

The beautiful Poas Lodge is still for sale in Costa Rica.  It is a wonderful dream and I will visit!  Follow this link http://www.businessesforsale.com/Poas-Volcano-Property-With-Successful-Lodge-And-Restaurant-For-Sale.aspx

Going where you have never gone

I like to think of myself as a trailblazer of some sort. I like adventure and trying new things that will expand my horizons and give me a new perspective to incorporate into my core being.  Over the last year I have been doing quite a bit of reaching outside my comfort zone, with a new project that stretched my communication muscles, taught me patience and more than I could list here.  Still I remained torn between something and something. A nagging feeling of unease, unrest and overall dissatisfaction with where I was at in my life.

In previous tantric studies with my teachers a point that was made stuck with me. Anything that conflicts or restricts your alignment with your naked flame (true self) will create turmoil until it is shed or accepted.  Hmmm.  It was trial and error time for me. I tried to find out what it was that kept me from aligning with my true self (naked flame).  This took some time as you can imagine. It also took me to places within myself that were not pleasant, comfortable or even attractive.  Those places were in the shadow parts of me. The parts that I pushed away and never visited or shed light on.  The time spent traveling these shadow spaces within me were the most difficult but also the most rewarding times of my life. To find that I could heal, forgive and accept those parts of me brought about an integration of myself that I had never known. Ever. The light (conscious) side of me was joyful to discover that it didn’t always have to stand alone and that it wasn’t the only part visible anymore.  What a relief!  The dark (shadow) side of me had feelings beyond words about being able to be present, accepted and needed.

Feeling like a whole person, complete with both light and dark (shadow) parts to me, gave me a very different sense of self. The areas where I felt like I was one dimensional became multi dimensional.  I had new insight and compassion for myself and others. I found myself in the place of wanting the very best for my body, mind and spirit. I began to cut away that which no longer serves me.  I experienced loss and grief over much that was lost or cut away. Some I had no grief over.  I did not grieve when I quit smoking and drinking alcohol.  I rejoiced that I escaped two of the most prevalent brain washing addictions that exist.  Nope, I am not going to proselytize here.  I am just bringing you my own journey. After I stopped numbing the mind/body/spirit and became accepting of the uneasy feelings that came up or bored feelings, or anxious feelings or restless or any other uncomfortable feeling, I found myself in a place where I had never been.

“Don’t be afraid to go where you’ve never gone and do what you’ve never done. Because both are necessary to have what you’ve never had and be who you’ve never been. ” Tut.com