Your mileage may vary

This is a great message for all…young, old or in-between! Go for the dream! Always go for the dream, everything else will work itself out.

Piaggia Del Giuggiolo

Libba Bray

Recently, I received a post that really got under my skin. It’s from Fiona (Hi, Fiona). I started to dash off a reply and then I thought that it required a much longer, more considered answer. With her permission, I’m reprinting her original comment below followed by my response. My response is lengthy; I apologize. But it is from the heart.

“I’m in a bit of a dilemma and I made a deal with my father that I would get advice from three people: my high school counselor, my voice coach, and an author. I want to go into the fine arts: writing, singing, composing. My father wants me to go to Columbia, Yale, or Harvard. I’d be fine with these but I want to go to a smaller school and then study abroad for at least two years. “It’s my life and this is a decision that will alter…

View original post 5,063 more words

Fearless

I entered a contest that is based on being FEARLESS.  After studying in Italy for three months and taking my autistic son with me, coupled with my age and all the challenges that come with getting older and trying to accomplish great things…I think I am FEARLESS. Please consider following the link and casting your vote by “liking” my photo.

http://fearlesspsu.com/gallery?sort=recent&i=105

The name is Charolette S. and in the photo am standing in the Roman Forum in Rome, Italy. It seemed a fitting image for FEARLESS.

Thanks! Image

Settling In and Squirming About It

The experts say it takes as long as you were gone studying to go through the stages of reverse culture shock upon returning to your home country. That is about right. So my absence has been an adjustment period for me and I think it took a little extra time to adjust to a new city upon return. Chad and I moved into a new apartment in a new city or rather in my old hometown where I grew up and lived for most of my life. In the meantime, throughout all of this adjustment I managed to continue my classes at PSU. The first term after my return from Italy I took all classes online and then the current term on campus. Life events seem to be changing so fast. This term I find myself a senior and facing the end of my sojourn through an Art History B.A. and it seems it just began! My plan is to continue my education in art history, classical studies, conservation/preservation or some such Masters degree. I am looking at programs in Europe, probably Eastern Europe if all goes according to plan. I would love to study Balkan art history in depth and formulate my thesis on that area of art. I am moved by the history of Romania, Bulgaria and Greece. So many ancient layers of art history moved through there over the periods and so much to discover and preserve.

I am itching to travel again and while I feel weary of travel in general and am burrowing in to my new place to feel rooted somewhere, I can already feel the urge to go out and seek again. I don’t know if this ever goes away. This need to find new places out there in the world and inside myself. New sights, smells, tastes and feeling the edge so close that balance becomes mindful. It really is an addiction. I am going to the Bahamas in a few weeks to spend some time on my own, reading, writing, soaking up the sun and while there of course visiting the art museums and cultural museums to get a taste of Bahamian roots. Photos will come! I have a brand new Pentax just waiting to be explored and this trip will be it’s maiden voyage.

I am enjoying the smallness of my life right now because I know from experience that it can change and become huge in a split second. I cherish time spent with my granddaughter and her wonder over how the light turns on and off. Her joy in discovery reminds me of how miraculous the tiny things really are. We flip a switch and have energy, water, TV, music, transportation…illumination. Image

Post Italy

It has been busy and painfully stagnant since returning from Siena. The reverse culture shock continues to surprise me, like the near melt down in Fred Meyers (grocery store). We had moved in to our new apartment and went to stock up on groceries. It was the first big shopping trip since returning from Italy and I wasn’t prepared for the overwhelm. Too many products, too many shelves, too many options and choices. I just wanted to leave the cart in the aisle and leave. I didn’t and we got home with groceries.

I have been busy with online classes this term and the isolation is getting to me, but then I also want to isolate at times. It is a strange thing right now. I am beginning a yoga class next week. That should help in several ways.  It is a strange kind of let down after walking so much everyday to and from school in Siena. Now I must work at getting enough movement and it is definitely a challenge. The social invitations have begun to come in and I missed that part of life. I was lonely in Italy and missed my friends a great deal. I missed socializing with all the banter, laughter and discussion. I am looking forward to more of that!

Setting up a photography portfolio and writing on my book…thinking of publishing a photo book on my final project which was a photo book of Pompeii with poems by me. I have so many projects and that together with school is the busy part. It is a lot of sitting on the computer, editing, and writing…this seems stagnant to me after awhile. I will find the balance or it will find me…for now, I am here and listening.

Image

The view from our house in Siena, Italy one foggy morning.

New Year, New Beginnings, New Body, New Sight…New Life

Image

As we move into 2014 I am thinking back over the last year and what a year it has been. So many changes at a fundamental level for me. Friendships have been redefined, my body has become a healthy dwelling place, my mind has relaxed into a state of grace and really life has become closer to being what feeds my soul and gives meaning to the words, ” live with intention.”  Italy was one of the defining periods of my life over the last year, Italy opened me up and breathed it’s sweet wine into my spirit. My thankfulness is overflowing for that experience and as I have only left Italy 2 weeks ago…I am still processing what took place and how the levels that living as an Italian were transformed within me. I know that seeing my mom standing in the airport waiting for us was one of the best sights ever and being a part of all of the love and support from family and friends has been the highlight of this journey. True friends, the ones that support you even if they don’t agree with you or think your ideas are crazy and family that understands you and supports your dreams and even encourages you to follow them are what it is all about. These people are why I went to Italy and they are why I came home to live near them. As I think more about connections, support, community and where my energy flows I wish all of those that I call friend a wonderful new year and I look forward to being your friend in 2014 and supporting each other in all we endeavor.

Preparing to leave Italy

We are in the last week of the term here in Italy. In fact this time next week I will be in Portland. I am preparing myself for reverse culture shock…having become adjusted to life and balance here in Italy. I feel the healthiest physically that I have ever felt. The non gmo, additive free, pesticide free food here is enviable. I will miss it the most. The way here is about healthy living and sustaining a lifestyle that nurtures the environment and resources. I will miss it so much. So I am already devising ways to maintain this lifestyle in the U.S. I know it can be done!!

My walks through the city now have a hint of melancholy as I realize they will be staying while I leave. I will return though to my Siena, already planning a return trip. We took Denise, my friend who is visiting, to the cathedral and it was like visiting an old friend. Wine tasting later this week, a good bye dinner and then Chad and I are off to Dublin to catch our flight back to the States.

I am changed forever. Thank you Siena, Italy.

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.

Venezia Biennale Day One

Day one of the Biannale was overwhelming. We went to the Arsenale and saw the exhibition curated by Massimiliano Gioni. The exhibition was organized as a progression of natural to artificial forms. The exhibition began in the beginning of man as a concept in the primordial ooze of life and step by step made it’s way up the evolutionary ladder to the over evolved being that he is today. The exhibits showcased crucial milestones of man’s evolution…such as the wheel, rituals of adolescence, base instincts and the role ego plays throughout.

My emotions were stirred at a base level and I felt as if they progressed in waves as I moved from room to room. Some rooms moved me to tears…the room with the plastic people all wrapped in grey agony. The sea of screens showing videos of stories flashing and flashing before my eyes. It was an instant of gratuitous envelopment of our media saturated society…thousands of lives that happen just like that and we all watch vehemently. I can say that this exhibition was life altering. Enjoy the photos.

ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

Our class listening to our art professor Shelley Jordon

 ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

Laura and Dany sketching

ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

Venezia Biennale Day Two

Deep pockets of myself have been accessed and opened up over the last two days. Today we went to the Giardini part of the Biennale. I felt rather removed and comfortable at an arm’s length distance from most of the exhibits until we stepped into the Israel exhibit by artist Gilad Ratman. He had the artists participating in his exhibition dig under ground working their way to the exhibition site where they broke through the floor and emerged to create head sculptures made of clay. They inserted microphones into the heads and then recorded sounds made by their voices. These sounds were guttural, primordial and came from the very bowels of their selves and the earth they just crawled, scraped, and dug their way through.

The sounds broke through my distance and struck my core. What emerged is yet to be seen but it felt real, visceral and raw…it pushed it’s way into pockets of earth inside me, dug roots into places that have never seen light.  May my images here transport you to just a small part of what I have experienced.

Image

The hole

Image

The sculpted heads

ImageImage

Image

Guo Fengyi “I draw because I don’t know- I draw in order to know.”

ImageImage

Roger Caillois

ImageImageImageImage

Mise-en-scene “Giving form to the instability of feelings and their impermanence.”

Image

Thierry De Cordier

ImageImage

ImageImage

Marisa Merz

ImageImage

Jean Frederic Schnyder

ImageImageImage

See Pan?

ImageImage

Andra Ursita

ImageImage

Aleister Crowley was at the Biennale!!

ImageImageImageImageImage

Eva Kotatkova Examines institutions and disciplinary systems from primary schools to prisons.

ImageImageImage

Anna Zemankova Biomorphic forms sprung from menopausal depression. I see wombs in her work.

ImageImageImage

A classmate Jules 🙂

ImageImageImage

Antti Laitinen It’s My Island

Image049 

The Portugal exhibition

052 053 054 058

Wonderful music!

Venezia Biennale

Our class is in Venice for the Biennale. A bi-annual art exhibition that encompasses the entire city. Most of it is located in the Arsenale and the Giardini and countries vie for the best position in the exhibition. People come from all over the world to attend and tomorrow we get to go see it!  Chad has come along and we just spent a wonderful afternoon taking a tour of Venice with a tour guide and sitting in a cafe having aperitifs. Chad is out with the classmates and I am snuggled up in bed watching TV, drinking wine and surfing the web. More on the Biennale tomorrow after we visit for the first day. Here are photos from the tour today. Enjoy! Image

Venice is breathtaking!

ImageImageImageImageImageImageItaImageImagesImageImageImageImage,

Yes that is an entire leg of something…ImageotImage Image

Piazza San Marco

ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

The TV

Image

Chad’s bed

Image

our room

ImageImage

The chandelier in our hotel room