BFF

BFFsThere is a term we love to use in America that applies to my story tonight, “BFF or Best Friends Forever”.  It’s a silly slang term that according to Wikipedia, “is a close friendship typical of teenagers and young people”. Well, my BFF and I are not either of those things but the term works for us, even in our old age.

I’ve been running around with her for over ten years now.  We are ten years apart in age and act as goofy as teenagers most of the time. I keep her young and she keeps me grounded.  It really is a good fit.  I don’t think either of us could imagine our lives without each other anymore.

My BBF has lived through the worst of my worst days with me.  She is always there to support me and wipe my tears when I need it the most.  She is also honest, which at times is the opposite of what I am looking for but always what I need.  My goofy friend is wise, compassionate and hard-headed as they come.  But you know what, she has never passed judgment on me, even after all of these years and all the crazy things I’ve done.  She’s just there for me.

I wonder how many people get to share their lives with someone they know truly loves them and expects nothing in return?  It feels incredible knowing that I can call upon my BFF at anytime and she will be honest with me.  I might hear, “Are you #$*^%*! kidding me?!” or “Sweetie, you’re going to be okay, keep moving forward and don’t look back”.  My favorite response from her is, “Sorry, my bra is off, go to the movies by yourself!”  Her husband cracks me up too with comments like, “Let’s drop a nickle in Alicia and see how long she will talk before she notices that we don’t care!”  The realness of our relationship is what makes my heart sing.

We don’t blow smoke, so to speak, we tell each other the truth.  While it is sometimes hard to hear, we really keep each other in check.  We know that whatever we share with each other is honest and based on love.  Where else can we get that in our lives? Not everyone is comfortable being honest. I joke about when people ask, “How are you?”  My question back is, “Do you want an honest answer or are you just looking for fluff?”  I don’t think that most “friends” really want to know and truly don’t care.

It is the goofy friends that we cannot get rid of that care the most.  It is the ones that come racing over when they find out that you are sick or need help with anything. Only best friends forever truly get it.

I wonder if I’ll be able to talk my BFF into touring Italy with me.  She’s turning 50 and I’m turning 40; how could she not go?!  Oh, wait, she’s the honest one.  Her response when I last asked her was, “WHAT? YOU ARE DOING WHAT?  YOU’RE CRAZY.  HAVE FUN WITHOUT ME!”  I truly love that BFF of mine.  xo

My favorite “European” American friend

Claude_Monet_023I have a beautiful friend that I consider to be an excellent source of information for all things European.  She was born and raised in Southern California but studied abroad. She attended a French University and can speak French fluently.  I am in awe of her analytic mind and impressive travel-log.

My dear friend was kind enough to bestow on me a true travel gem.  I am loving the read, Baedeker – ITALY.  The original hand-book written by, Karl Baedeker was published for travelers over 150 years ago.  I have enjoyed all of the fine details of this guide.  I am currently educating myself on the history of Italy, found in the first few pages.  I love this condensed version of valuable information.  I owe her a good read for this precious guide.

I may recommend, The Art of Racing in the Rain. It’s one of my all-time favorite books.  I want her to understand my need to drive in Italy.  She thinks I am crazy for considering driving a Lamborghini while I am there.  Her husband and her have a lot of experience driving all over Europe, they lived there for years.  She explained that I will be a wreck, being concerned about being in a wreck!  The streets in Italy are very narrow and she feels that I should consider renting a scooter instead.

While I listen and learn from those who have gone before me, I am going to do my best to keep an open mind. I am open for ideas that come from experience and love of travel.  I am hoping that my friends continue to share their stories with me and help me grow, even at thirty eight years old.  xo

 

 

 

UPS Driver

National Gallery of Art, Renoir
My UPS driver does not have an easy job.  I live off of a long and narrow dirt road, which he must brave a few times a week in his big UPS truck.  I appreciate his efforts and am always pleasant when we meet.  On one such occasion, he asked me what I was so excited to receive.  I explained it was my Rosetta Stone special delivery!  He inquired about what language I was leaning and I told him my story.

He was taken back by my joy for what I was trying to do.  He understood it and took the time to open up and tell me briefly about his trip to Florence a few years back.  He went on and on about a tour company that he and his wife hired, Taste Florence. While I am not one to particularly like scheduled tours, this one sounds gustoso!  I plan to take a lot of insulin with me so that I may eat plentifully.  I do not want to have to pass anything up.  I may even consider sipping wine while I am touring.

I am so pleased that my UPS driver shared his story with me.  Sometimes it is hard for people to open up and dare say, “Hello”.  This gentleman went out of his way and made my day, and possibly my trip!  Take the time to share who you are.  I believe it is worth the effort.

Repubblica italiana

italy-political-mapI have so much to do!  So much to plan for!  I just learned that Italy is 116,347 square miles, with a population of approximately 60,000,000.  I was surprised by this number until I remembered that the United States is 3,794,101 square miles, with a population of approximately 317,000,00.

The difference in numbers makes me wonder why I am feeling the need to go explore another country, when I haven’t completely explored my own.  I think it’s because of the art and history that just don’t exist the same way here in our young country.  I want to visit and learn from the old country.

I am going to plot my course over the next few days so that I may start looking at flight reservations and accommodations.  While I decide where and how I am going to travel, I am hoping to talk with people whom have been or better yet, lived and loved in Italy.  I want them to share their favorite spots and experiences with me.  I have a few friends and such already on my list.  Maybe over the next few days, I will share their stories with the world, as I try to create my own.

Conflict

Keep Calm
I love and hate conflict all at the same time.  It seems to be the perfect catapult to get us where we need to be, so to speak.  Without conflict, how would we be driven to compromise and understand what the other side of our particular position might look like. All the while, it is ugly and hurtful, and sometimes impossible to get over.  

Has a life ever existed without conflict?  I cannot imagine one, even in beautiful Italy!  In Italy, I can imagine there would be conflict about what good food to eat, which incredible art museum to visit or what quaint little town to stay in for holiday.  All of these conflicts of normal day seem so simple, so unimportant, while “real” conflict is rampant in the world right now.  Does that make these everyday, simple conflicts insignificant?   

When I consider conflicts in other parts of the world, I think of: Syria, The Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, Ukraine, Israel and Palestine.  I am sure there are many more that I could list here, but my heart aches for all of them and I can’t bring myself to list anymore.  I think about the children in these countries and their parents.  I try to understand what the constant fear of being killed must feel like and the panic that these feelings must ensue.  It is all devastating. 

There is also plenty of conflict in our own lives. The list of wars that we fight everyday for the most odd and peculiar reasons. I have conflict with friends, my job and unfortunately, my bank account.  I have conflict with my daughters, on so many different levels, and with my damn dog over the guest bathroom trashcan daily.  Some of these conflicts rock my core and some make me laugh because I have a tendency to take life way too seriously.   

Whether the conflict is big or small we have to honor it for what it is and push ourselves into understanding, so we may learn and be more open to compromise.  Keeping calm is key during these moments and following through on thoughts, actions and feelings is everything.  Taking the time to discover who we truly are is probably the most important conflict any of us will ever have with ourselves.  I assure you all, it is worth the fight.  It is worth feeling everything that comes along with your own personal conflict, so that in the end you find your inner-peace.

May we all be so blessed. xo

Resolutions

Image

 

Today I made a few more resolutions.  I would like to add them to my existing list that I created in January.  How could it be that I already have to amend them after only two and a half months?  

Growth comes in forms disguised in different ways, at the most unexpected times.  Today my growth opportunity presented itself to me in the form of an old friend, which shall remain in disguised, as most superheroes are.  

NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS (amended from 01-01-14):
LISTEN BETTER

 

~xo  

Forgiveness

Riley's Prize Winning Art
I had to forgive myself today.  I have been buried with work the past few days, my daily chores and countless hours of volunteering in my community trying to support my local PTA and RELAY FOR LIFE.  While these are all good things for me to be doing, I am exhausted.  It was one o’clock in the morning when I decided to go to bed instead of writing my blog.  Once in bed, the wind howled all night long and 
tossed and turned.  I hate when I let myself down.

Today was another day like the day before.  I worked and worked until I found out that I had an engagement that I had to attend this evening.  I did not get everything on my TO DO LIST completed and was feeling angry at myself for another day of personal disappointment.  I missed my language lesson, yet again.  I did not review my Italian map to help plot my course.  I did not complete my database for the upcoming community event that I am helping put on.  I did not even do the breakfast dishes or dust, as I had planned, or catch up on my blog for DAY 468.

Feeling defeated and incompetent, I heading to the event that was waiting for me.  For someone who is joyful most of my days, I was feeling and acting closer to cranky than happy.  As I approached the event, I saw her and everything changed.

I suddenly forgave myself for all of my shortcomings.  I was suddenly filled with joy and the idea that there is so much hope in the world.  My youngest daughter was waiting to show me her artwork that had been picked to be displayed at one of our local school’s art shows.  Her kind face and her presence, offered me forgiveness and I am changed forever.

As if some kind of gift from the heaven’s, my daughter took First Place in her category.  She will get to go to Division Finals and may have a chance of making it to State.  Whether she wins or not, does not matter.  What matters is that she tried.  She put art into the world, not to win, but because she loves it and because of that she will always be a winner.

Here’s to another day of opportunities to be ourselves and ultimate forgiveness for doing so!

Writing

WritingYesterday, I published my twentieth blog.  Twenty days of writing about my thoughts on the process of getting myself to Italy for my 40th birthday.  The accomplishment, if you will allow the term, seems to be a small and insignificant but was actually pretty big and very important to me.  

I found the following definition on Wikipedia this evening, “A writer is a person who uses written words in various styles and techniques to communicate ideas. Writers produce various forms of literary art and creative writing such as novels, short stories, poetry, plays, new articles, screenplays or essays.”  And…blogs.  

I recorded, The Oscars and had the program on tonight while I finished up my work.  I rarely watch television but do like to have it on it the background. This evening, Robert De Niro caught my ear.  As he was presenting an Oscar he said the following, “The mind of a writer can be a truly terrifying  thing.  Isolated, neurotic, caffeine addled, crippled by procrastination, and consumed by feelings of panic, self-loathing and cursed by inadequacy.”  It made me smile.

I have second guessed my decision to write daily a few times.  I am tired and feel discouraged.  I have been worried I will not have anything interesting to say or that I may just totally fail at this project and never make it to Italy. Then I find my second wind and open my computer.  The process of over coming my fears and telling my story is liberating.  This feeling of accomplishment keeps me going.  

Here’s to the next 469 days of writing my blog.  Wish me luck…          

 

Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey

COSMOS: A Spacetime Odysee
I screeched with delight tonight when an aerial view of Rome was shown on COSMOS: A Spacetime Odyssey.  I grabbed my youngest and made her sit with me, as we watched Neil deGrasse Tyson walk the cobblestone streets of Italy.  He was telling the story of Giordano Bruno who was found guilty by The Inquisition in 1600 and burned at the stake for his “out of this world” thoughts about the cosmos.

I was so pleased to be able to share this time with my youngest!  I even choked up a few times and had to hold back the tears.  I love being hungry for knowledge and to have my little one sitting next to me, hungry to learn about science and discovery, was like a dream come true!  Until, I looked over and realized she was rolling her eyes and playing with the dog.

It made me laugh because I too had the same reaction to Carl Sagan’s COSMOS: A Personal Voyage about 25 years ago.  My step-father Peter, God rest his soul, made me watch the series as punishment for bad behavior in my teenage years.  I remember listening and being somewhat interested, but never wanting my parents to know it.  I wanted them to believe I was miserable.

Honestly though, I really did learn a lot and have been inspired since to question everything!  I love the idea of thinking outside the box, as they call it.  The way I do business and come to make decisions are due to this “go against the norm” philosophy that might have been instilled in me during my hours learning about the cosmos.  The idea that we are not alone, that there is so much more out there to learn and discover, has always delighted and inspired me.

On my trip to Italy next year, I will seek out where Bruno was from and try to walk his path to religious freedom knowing that our infinite God, may also have something to do with the infinite universe and beyond.  I will kiss the cobblestone where the greats, like Bruno, have walked before me and pray that they know a simple lady like me really cared about the work they did and shared all the while risking their lives, and most importantly, how thankful I truly I am.

Open your mind and heart and go explore!  The cosmos is waiting for you.

Shoes

My Trusty Hiking Boot on Mount Hoffmann August 2012
The Cardinal Rule of Travel: ALWAYS BREAK YOUR SHOES IN BEFORE YOU HEAD OUT ON YOUR ADVENTURE!

Too many times I have had to worry about my precious feet.  I have been a Type 1 Diabetic since I was twelve and was always instructed to be very careful about the way my shoes fit.  I rarely listened to this advise when walking up and down the show isles.  I spent a lot of money on beautiful shoes to match my favorite suits, in my twenties.  I unfortunately, went ahead a grew a sightly bunion in my thirties, which took me out of my favorite Italian heels. And now, as I head into my forties, I am finally following my podiatrist’s advise and only buying well fitting shoes meant for my feet, not my eyes.

My trusty hiking boots have ended up being my favorite pair the past few years.  I still can’t believe how many miles I have on them!  They took me all over Southern California’s trails in preparation for my trip to Yosemite National Park in 2012.  I was blessed enough to summit Mount Hoffmann, Cloud’s Rest and the iconic Half Dome in those dusty boots of mine. Without them, I would have never made it.

I have also become quite fond of the One for One campaign led by TOMS SHOES.  The idea of building a charitable aspect into a business plan is ingenious and hopefully, the way of the future.  I love the idea of businesses helping to contribute to society in one form or another.  Promising to do so via a business plan is just plain, awesome.  I was also inspired by the founder’s book, START SOMETHING THAT MATTERS.  I recommend that all of my entrepreneurial friends read it.

Whether you love fine Italian shoes, a dusty pair of your favorite hiking books or shoes that help a kid out when you purchased them, please make sure you break them in.  There is nothing worse than trying to put one foot in front of the other when you have a blister.

Choose your path and shoes wisely, so you may enjoy the adventure. xo