Take me with you!

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My daughters have both expressed huge interest in traveling with me to Italy.  I love that they have adventurous spirits and are willing to try anything.  They are now old enough and mature enough to be able to travel without me having to carry them and/or their luggage.  Both of them are so smart and would pick up the language quickly.  And I know we would have an incredible time together.  The act of discovering something together for the first time is magical.  But, a strange part of me wants to tell them, “Not this time”.  I may want to reserve this trip for just me.

Other friends and loved ones have offered to join me as well.  I even invited a few to join me when I first started this process.  These friends are a collection of loved ones and a few of my favorite people. I know we would have so much fun being witnesses to each other’s lives.  And I love that they are completely able to care for themselves, carry their own luggage and pay their way.  But I wonder, would my friends and loved ones want to do the same things that I want to do?  Would they all be able to keep up with me?  How would they react to large crowds?  Or would they let me stare at a piece of artwork for an hour, if I desired to?  How will they do with the Lamborghini rental part of my plan? Maybe I should go alone.

I am torn.  I love my daughters, family and friends.  I want to share my life with people who love me and support me.  I believe that people truly need people. We are happier when we are together, and I know that having someone with me would be safer than traveling alone.  My premise on life has always been, the more the merrier.  I should live up to that and keep the invitation to travel, discover, love, eat and drive with me open.

I wonder who will actually come with me? You all have 479 days to plan!!  ~xo

TO DO LIST

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When I envision myself touring Italy, I am doing it all. When I consider how my TO DO LIST will read, I realize that time and finances are going to be the biggest hurdles to overcome. I have decided to list all of the wonderful and amazing things that I dream of doing. By writing, publishing, sharing and planning for it, I just might have a chance of making my dreams come true. This TO DO LIST of mine may be altered over the next 480 days many times over, but I need to start somewhere. I invite you to plan with me. Send me your suggestions. Share your opinions. Tell me your stories.

When my UPS driver delivered my Rosetta Stone package today, I explained what I was up to.  He beamed with delight and went on to tell me about his amazing trip to Italy with his wife.  They were lucky enough to have a month’s time to spend touring, discovering, drinking and I could tell doing what he enjoyed most, eating.  He listed a few things that I must do.  I wasn’t in the position to write down all that he shared, so I gave him my card and asked him to email me.  I hope I hear from him soon.  I could tell he loved his time in Italy.

I plan to continue to share my story in hopes of others feeling free to do the same.  This trip I am planning can become something so much more by allowing it to be a collective process.  The more ideas, thoughts, hopes and dreams coming together, the better!

TO DO LIST:
♥ Start my TO DO LIST

Moonstruck

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Amore!  What in the world or beyond is more powerful than love?  Everything I have ever done, in one way or another has been based upon my love for something.  Love presents itself in so many different ways.  

Today it presented itself as: a ruling from the Supreme Court of Texas, a piece of cheesecake, a sticky note from my youngest daughter, a sock in the arm from my oldest daughter, the rain that is finally pouring from the sky here in Southern California and my damn dog, who will not leave my side.  While I prefer some of these forms of love over others, they are all still expressions of the powerful energy that most of us need to feel complete.  

Love can send us to outer-space and into the depths of hell, in the matter of seconds.  The whirlwind effect seems almost unreal and for certain, unfair at times.  Love requires us to think and work, to strive for more and at the same time, to be satisfied with what we have.  Love can be seen by others, even when you attempt to hide it. Love has a mind of it’s own in a sense. Who in the history of the world, has ever been able to control it or live without it?  

The process of writing this blog is a reflection of my love for myself and the idea that dreams can come true.  It is a love letter to my daughters and all of the hopeful travelers in the world.  It is difficult and wonderful all at the same time to attempt to accomplish the sharing of my love for whatever the topic is for the day. I believe this blog in some strange way, represents the lose and gain that we experience when we love something or someone.

I too, like the character in Moonstruck, had decided to give up on love and settle for a life of simplicity and what I thought was normalcy.  Until I woke up and turned everything upside down because without love in my life, I wouldn’t have survived another day.  It was more important for me to show my daughter’s that love is worth the chance that you might make a mistake.  That a relationship based on love is worth every effort.  The effort that it takes to get you where you know you need to be, and the hard work and suffering it may take to get there.  Love is worth that moment in the moonlight that no one but you can understand.

I wish you all love.  Find it, care for it, treasure it and never, ever give up on it.  xo    

 

Superheros

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For some reason my oldest daughter had a problem with me tonight.  When she came in my bedroom to kiss me goodnight we talked about this and that, like we always do and all of a sudden her face changed.  She looked disgusted and amused all at the same time.  She slowly backed away from me proclaiming that she was ruined for life.  When I asked her whatever for, she pointed out that I was discussing writing my blog, and as if that isn’t enough to end her teenage world, I did it in my Superman onesie.  And to make matters even worse for her, the movie, Twilight, was on in the background.  I laughed and she ran into her room pretending to cry.

We truly are a super family, with lives filled with super adventures and super people.  I actually feel like a superhero must feel most days.  I am always trying to do good, save the world, correct injustice and right the wrong.  It’s not an easy task but as my grandfather once asked me, “If not you, Alicia, than who?” and I do love wearing my red cape.

The best part of my day is when I use my x-ray vision and search my feelings, like the Jedi’s taught me to do, to help me find the “Clark Kent’s” of the world.  They are out there!  You just have to really look for them.  When I discover them, I remind them that it’s okay to put their capes on and fly.

I wonder how many superheroes are figuratively set free everyday?  And I wonder how many are shot down from the sky and put in Kryptonite hand-cuffs?  If more of us could work on being liberators in our homes and communities, we might have a super chance of turning things around.  It feels amazing to know and to share with others the truth; that we are called to be ourselves and that our specialized super-powers are important and needed by the world.

I wonder how many superheros are in hiding in Italy?  I bet I can find a few.

Come fly with me,
AKJ~

People

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I had lunch today with one of my favorite clients. I categorize him as a favorite because I know he truly appreciates me for my hard work. Today he reminded me that he also appreciates me for who I am. My client and I are of very different builds and backgrounds but I could see myself imaged In him today, when he explained to me what he thought of me. It was a very surreal moment.

I love how people, in the most unexpected ways help us see who we really are. I am hoping to discover more about myself while traveling through Italy. I am excited to immerse myself in the culture. My luck has it, that a friend mentioned that she knows someone who lives in Italy and wants to know if I’d be interested in talking with them.  And, my favorite client knows someone with a Lamborghini and will work on getting me in on a ride-along.  I am praying for these type of amazing opportunities to continue to present themselves. I am open for anything!

I plan to keep my heart and eyes wide-open for people who may be able to help me find my way. Some people have suggested that I make a poster-board representing my trip to Italy to help get me there. I think that my poster-board would look more like a sea of faces. I want to see the people in Italy, as much or even more than any piece of art or architecture. I want to see their faces, in hopes of learning about them and seeing my reflection in them.

Photo credit: “75 People I Know Personally”, Oil Pastel/Ink – 40″ x 32″ by: Tim Presley / WHITE FENCE ART COLLECTIVE

Building Blocks

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The building blocks of life come in so many forms.  They can come in the form of a simple toy or if you look hard enough, you will find them in the form of relationships that we have with our friends, family members or lovers.  Maybe even in the form of a teacher or a preacher, a stranger or a life experience.  They can be hidden in the pages of a book or blog, a job opportunity that presents itself or the simple day to day tasks of our detail oriented lives.  My point being, we need to keep ourselves open to the experience.  We should be using the building blocks presented to us to help construct our future.

My building blocks the past few years have not come easy or cheap.  I joke that I would have much rather purchased a ton of LEGO®s versus going through what I had to, in order to get to where I am today.  My handsome husband left me, my teenage daughter lashed out with bad behavior and began making dangerous choices, and my youngest was crushed under the weight of it all.  During the first year of the separation it seemed like my life had become a huge mess of building blocks on the playroom floor.  I was in pieces, disorganized and unable to consider rebuilding.

The second year, I began to start seeing that I might be able to make some order out of the mess.  My girls and I started to work together.  We talked a lot through the process and cried even more.  I sought professional therapy for each of us and little by little, we started to pick up the pieces of ourselves and what was to be our new family unit.  I went back to work and took hold again of what used to make me happy.  By figuring out how important it was to honor who I am, I started to get comfortable in my skin again. And then, I noticed that my daughters were watching me reconstruct.  I took care of myself by picking up my life piece by piece, block by block and because I was patient with myself, my girls were liberated and began to do the same.

Heading into our third year, we have our challenges ahead of us but understand now that a pile of mixed-matched toy pieces that look like nothing but a mess, can become brilliant pieces of art. Over the next 484 days of building my trip to Italy for my 40th birthday, I will construct the most beautiful work of art: me being me.

Amore,
AKJ~

*photo credit: Nathan Sawaya: BRICK ARTIST™

Words

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What is more powerful than our words?  I would contend that our actions are.  I found this picture and quote on a friend’s webpage today.  It comes from one of my all-time favorite authors, Mark Twain.  The incredible, Samuel Langhorne Clemens was a brilliant wordsmith who made us all dig deep into our souls when trying to understand his characters, their perils and the underlined meanings in all he wrote.  That amazing feeling of discovering myself in the pages of people’s work, is one of the reasons why I took to writing this blog.

It is my desire that making the commitment to writing this blog and sharing my story will help ensure I get out of my little corner of the Earth.  I need this trip to become a reality so that I can come home and educate.  I want to share this experience through my eyes with my daughters, close family, friends and all of you on the World Wide Web.  I want everyone to see the change that happens in me due to my travels abroad.  I want my daughters to know that I am more of a complete human being because I put myself out there and went for it.

It is my wish that everyone afforded the opportunity to travel.  I know from my own experiences that getting outside of your little corner of the Earth can help you see more clearly.  I want everyone to know that they are not alone.  I want people to believe that through life experience and interaction with others that they can indeed change the world.

Sometimes all it takes is a commitment, a leap of faith…and a good book for the ride.

Pace, xo

Locals

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I remember the first time I visited Carrara Pastries in Moorpark, California.  I was told by a good friend a few years ago that we have a highly trained Italian pastry chef and candy maker in town and that I should check them out.  Ever since I walked in their tiny little shop, which has expanded this year to our small town’s great delight, I was changed forever.

Being a salt and vinegar chip, pickle and/or olive fan all of my life, I never considered treating myself to something so delicate and sweet as a pastry or piece of hand made chocolate, until I tasted the masterpieces coming out of Carrara’s kitchen.  For the first time in my life, I considered taking my precious, synthetic insulin for sinfully sweet treats.   

It’s the entire, what I like to call, “Carrara Experience” that really rocked my world.  I was moved not only when I took my first bite, but it was when the most handsome man with piercing blue eyes, shot out from behind the counter to explain to me the fundamentals of each piece of candy art in his display.  He was so passionate and excited about sharing his story, in the most lovely to-die-for Italian accent, that I knew he and his brother were destined to be a huge success.  

The family team is led by my favorite business man in town Damiano Carrara, who saw the lack of fine Italian pastries in Southern California and brought his father and brother to America from Lucca, Tuscany in Italy to help build his vision.  Damiano’s brother, Massimiliano Carrara, is renowned in his country after graduating from the Italian Pastries Academy of Rimini.  I don’t know much about where he studied but I do know that by Damiano bringing his family to Moorpark, he has made all of our dreams come true.  

I find it amazing that I have two amazing business men from Italy, right here in my own backyard.  I can’t wait to tell them about my upcoming birthday adventure.  I know that Massimiliano is looking to practice his English and I, with my new Rosetta Stone ~ ITALIAN, levels 1-5, will need to practice my Italian.  Maybe I’ll get lucky enough and will be able to spend the next 486 days in their store planning my adventure with the Lucca locals, all the while practicing Italian as I stuff my face and enjoy the incredible view.       

Buon Appetito!!!

Why?

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Another day on the books and the number one question that was asked of me today was, “Why?”  My “why” might surprise some and I am prepared to hear the quiet laughs and heavy sighs, and maybe even see a few eyes roll when trying to explain myself.  But, it’s my truth and through this process, the sharing of my truth will be my only rule.

The story of Ferruccio Lamborghini has always been a huge inspiration to me.  I love that this highly motivated, or dare I use the word driven, man decided to create a car to compete with the “all knowing” and adored, Ferrari.  From my understanding, Museo Ferrari pretty much blew off Ferruccio by telling him to mind his own business and go back to building tractors, when Ferruccio approached Museo about working to make the Ferrari a better racing car.  I love what is written on the Lamborghini website about that moment in 1963, “When Ferruccio decided to build a super sports car to compete with Ferrari, many people thought he was mad. Constructing that kind of car was viewed as an unexplainable extravagance, a hazardous leap in the dark, and something that would squander his fortune without ever turning a profit.”

The man was an absolute bull, going after everything that he needed to make his new company, Automobili Ferruccio Lamborghini, a leader in super sports cars.  He built an incredible factory, a lot like what Steve Jobs did at Pixar, brought in the best engineers and designers, and followed his vision to create an instant masterpiece, the 350 GTV.

I have carried this story with me since I was a teenager.  I always freaked out whenever I saw any style Lamborghini on the street and always promised myself that I would drive one, and who knows, maybe even own one someday.  I have tried for years to pretend my various cars: VW Bug, Honda Mini-Van, Ford Ranger, Ford Fusion and even my beloved, Subaru Forester, were really a Athon or Diablo, maybe even a Cala, or the new Aventador.  The idea of any of them makes my heart race.

My “why” for choosing to visit Italy for my 40th birthday has much to do with needing to see the art, learn the history, stand in awe of the architecture and pump myself full of insulin for the food of course, but my soul needs to drive a Lamborghini through the streets of Italy.

I have 487 days to enroll myself in a bad-ass driving school.  I found one here in Los Angeles, and after reviewing the costs and considering my Rosetta Stone purchase yesterday, I am thankful that I am planning ahead and have time to raise the funds necessary to make my dreams come true.

BACKLASH

It’s officially, official! I made the choice yesterday to go to Italy and start a blog to document my process of pulling off such an adventure. Once I actually published, posted and tweeted my intentions, I realized I may be setting myself up for public failure and the anguish that goes along with that, all in the eyes of the “all seeing” internet and social media. This is not my first attempt at publicly going after a pie in the sky dream of mine and I can’t help joining a few of my friends and family members in asking myself, “Why did I make the choice to do this?”

I knew first thing this morning that I may be in over my head, yet again. I am very public with my passions. I share my hopes and dreams in all that I do. I feel for my dear friends at church and on the PTA, and my family that has to live out these endless adventures with me and unfortunately, endure some of my failures along the way. I am worried that this might become another epic, public failure but for some strange reason, I don’t care.

I know that I am in over my head. I know that I have a long haul ahead of me. I know that I may embarrass myself in the process but I am strangely, excited about it! Could the reason why I am not so concerned about what everyone is thinking about me be because I’m almost 40 years old? Whatever the reason, I am relieved that I don’t care what people may think of me. I am thankful that I get to document who I am and why I am, and how this process is going to help me focus on accomplishing my hopes and dreams.

488 days and counting. I think I can, I think I can.

Whatever happens, I know that I am going to give this my all. My research has begun, a plan is beginning to come together, language lessons will begin in a few weeks and I am excited to share every exciting detail with the world because I can.

Con Amore,
AKJ~