Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Capri and the Blue Grotto

This is a better photo from Krupp Garden of the blue sea and boats around Capri.

Wildflowers growing on the cliffs. Maybe it's a weed. Even the weeds are beautiful.

Waiting to catch a wave into the Blue Grotto. Everyone but the boat boy has to get down, so you don't whack your head or other body parts.

Better than Disneyland.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Soul satisfaction

(The Isle of Capri from the Krupp Garden)

I'm really enjoying my yoga class. We not only work on our being in touch with our physical selves but our mental and spiritual beings. We don't have a big class so we talk to our instructor who even though she is quite young, is pretty attuned to herself. My quality of my life has improved immensely in the last few months and the almost crushing, oppressive atmosphere I was subject to has changed (no further comment on why). So, I have been working on the free space in my brain. I say free space because one morning (it was a Monday, if that is a hint) I woke up without the usual trepidation of having to face the day. My brain space was like a large, empty room with a hollow sound somewhat like an empty dance studio with wooden floors.

I waited for all the usual thoughts to make their appearance, mostly dred and paralizing stress. They didn't come. Hello? Is anyone there? Where are you guys? They were gone. My mind was free from those thoughts. Not wanting to get too excited at their departure, I waited. The hours and days passed and they didn't return. I started to realize that could move on and fill my mind with new stuff to think about. So after some rumination, I asked myself the usual question, which is, "What is the thing that would make me the happiest, right now?" Even if I won the lotto and was able to move to Italy, I had had something else that would make me happy.

So back to yoga. I asked my wise, young yoga instructor, why is it we sabotage ourselves when we have made a goal? We talked about several methods she had used in her life and then we did our yoga class. At the end of our class, when we lay on our mats and closed our eyes to release any stress points we had on our bodies, she led us through a meditation. She asked us to focus on something we wanted to accomplish this year. To see it, to see ourselves as having already accomplished it, that it happened. Then to think of a time in our lives when we were sublimely happy. It could be a small moment, an instance, some time or place and hold it in our mind with our accomplished goal to link happy, positve thoughts with our goal.

And so, I thought of Capri. Where I came and thought, I would never leave if I could.
(Our boat boy giving us instructions before we entered the Blue Grotto, Capri)

We weren't there very long. Just for the day. My niece wanted to see the Blue Grotto, a famous site and some say tourist trap. We took a group island tour and then got onto a smaller boat to go into the Blue Grotto. (Next time, we decided, we're going by private boat.) Afterwards, we rode the funicular to the top of the island and walked around. We ended up at the Krupp Garden. As I looked at the blue water and the boats I was filled with more than peaceful contentment. Soul satisfaction, I don't know what to call it exactly. I've felt it once before that instensly. And, yes, it was in Italy.

(Inside the Blue Grotto, Capri)

Hmmm. Happy thoughts!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Getting sucked in

(The stairwell at the Vatican Museums)

Lately, I haven't been very efficient or productive at home. First, I gave myself permission to accomplish nothing. It was relaxing, probably too so. Lazing around after work watching TV and going to bed way too soon. It was an experiment. I'm glad I don't have a recliner or like to watch football or drink beer. Then, I progressed to just thinking about all the things I should be doing but hadn't. Kind of like in an out of body experience. You really should vacuum the house more often. But why? You don't like vacuuming and the house isn't that bad. That is why I don't wear shoes in the house. Ok. But maybe there are those dust mites. Fair enough. Dust mites can cause allergies. I'll put it on the list. Vacuum the house. Haven't done it since the New Year. But I thought about it. And it doesn't look that bad.

Then, I started eating more healthily. Like in brown rice and broccoli. And taking all my vitamins. Now I had lots of energy but no focus on exactly what to do with it. Just a sort of restlessness with no where to go. Like I get when I need to go on vacation. But I can't go on vacation for, at least, oh, I don't know, maybe next year unless the Bush tax cut is really big.

So, I decided to take yoga up again. Seeing how it's been a couple of years from when I had rotator cuff surgery and tore a tendon in my foot running. It would have been hard to do downward dog with only one arm, more like downward tripod. And, there is no way I could stand on my foot to do the yoga positions. That limited me to laying on the floor in a meditative state and I do that at home all the time!

So I signed up. And, I really enjoy going to the yoga class. I can empty my mind. I can be at peace. I can focus on the wonderfullness of ...nothing.

Except now I don't seem to be arguing with myself about what I should and shouldn't be doing and in what logical, progressive order. And, I've decided to give myself permission to do what I want to do first and not what I should do. Because if I do what I want to do first, all the other stuff seems to get done anyway and I'm getting way more stuff done. Except the vacuuming.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Rock

Jesus said to Peter,
"...thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church" Matthew 16:18

(Statue of St. Peter, St. Peter's Basilica)

He came to Rome, to spread the word of God.

(Mamertine Prison where Peter was kept prisoner that was originally a sistern)

And, there he was condemned to die and crucified upside down at his request because he was not worthy to be crucified in the manner that Christ was.

(St. Peter's in Chains, Rome)

There are so many reasons to go to Rome. This is one.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Italy and mammograms

The Trevi Fountain, Rome

I have travelled to many countries and hope to travel to many more. Some places I have been to a couple of times because, I guess they speak to me. Santa Fe, New Mexico, Monterey and Carmel, California in the US and London and Italy. I've been to London 3 times for about 4 weeks total and only once did I ever leave London on a day trip to Stonehenge. All the other time, I was perfectly content and very busy with stuff in London. My last time in London, my hotel keeper was making an argument that there wasn't even a good reason to leave Hampstead (a section of London). And as soon as I photograph the Parthenon Marbles, the Rosetta Stone, the Portland Vase, the Vindolanda scrolls and a really handsome bust of Julius Caesar located in the British Museum, he might be right. (You may remember that Julius is dead. I might have some personal, relationship issues coming to light here people, because I think he was like, a really sexy guy. Him and Admiral Lord Nelson. Also dead. Entombed in St. Paul's Cathedral and memorialized at Trafalgar Square.)

I fell in love with London on my first trip to Europe. We landed in Paris and went to all the usual places. Amsterdam (great cookies and where I picked up the habit of dipping my french fries in mayonnaise), Germany (brots and senf), Austria (oh my, the weinerschnitzel!), Switzerland (chocolate!chocolate!chocolate!) Norway (pickled herring, oh so good, and I don't even like fish), Denmark (danish pastry that makes our version taste like glazed over, recycled paper), Luxembourg (thin, pressed ginger cookies)then came south to Spain (unbelievably delicious tapas, tortillas, paella, fresh ancovies in olive oil, again, did I say I don't like fish! and a whole host of stuff that I ate and can't even tell you what it was but I think it had been hanging from the ceiling for several years).

In each country, I learned to say please and thank you in the appropriate language because, for one thing, it really made the bus drivers happy and for the other thing, people were a lot more helpful. People like the bus drivers.

We had originally planned to be gone for 9 months, but after about 3 months were sort of getting tired of always having to look for a new place to stay. We were staying in youth hostels which are not located, in well, let's just say they are not centrally located or easy to find or in particularly nice neighborhoods. Sometimes we were kicked out of a place we had planned to stay for awhile, if they need the beds for some passing youth group making us have to scramble to find another place to stay.

Because we were traveling by train between cities and countries, sometimes we would find ourselves traveling with other young backpackers and meeting the same group of people again and again. Stories would be exchanged. Like the one about a young, Chinese heiress who having lost her parents was traveling around Europe alone with a suitcase stuffed full of money. Girls who have been sucked into a scam to drive cars to Turkey or the Middle East but really transporting drugs, or worse, getting abducted.

Then, there were the stories about Italy. Notice, Italy was not listed on the countries I had gone to. Nope, not Italy because we began to hear stories about Italy. Stories of women whose handbags had been snatched by Vespa-riding thieves and dragged to the ground if they didn't let go. Women who had their necklaces ripped from their bodies and even thieves who would crack a raw egg on the head of a woman wearing a fur coat. When the woman removed her fur coat to prevent the eggy mess from dripping on them, the thieves would make off with the furs.

Now, we listened to this all, of course, even at our tender age, with a grain of salt. I felt sorry for the Chinese heiress because it seemed only a matter of time before she would be clunked over the head, suitcase gone, then left orphaned and penniless. I duly made note to self - don't take anyone up on offers to drive a Mercedes Benz to Turkey. I felt pretty safe from Vespa-riding, egg-cracking Italian thieves having no jewelry, furs or even a handbag because handbags and backpacks don't mix well together.

But, on a train ride south, the story got upped a little. Now, the story was that the Italian thieves were so good, that they had stolen a camera from a man who had been asleep on the train, with the camera strap wrapped around his hand. And the thief had been so good, the man had not even been awakened. When he did wake up, all he had was the strap still wrapped around his hand. I dunno why this started to unnerve me. I had a strapping, 6'4" tall, former high-school quarterback for a boyfriend, but he was kind of a sound sleeper. For all I knew, some Italian thief could swap me out for my backpack. And there he would be, snuggled up to my backpack on the train while I was packed off in the trunk of a Mercedes en route to Istanbul before he even knew I was gone.

How could he protect me or even me protect me from these ingenious thieves in Italy if they were so good, we never even woke up. So, we never went. Yep, we turned around in Spain and went to London where I fell in love with London and all things British before we flew home to start our lives. It only took me 25 years to get to Italy.

And that reminds me about the stories I hear ladies tell about mammograms. That they hurt, how the tecnician laughs evilly as she gives the device invented by a masochist an extra crank. How the technicians are cruel because they are flat-chested blah, blah, blah... But, I get mine every year with a smile on my face knowing that a few moments of discomfort may save my life.

Cause, I have the knowledge that I listened to only the bad stories once and I let it stop me. So, go and get your mammogram and don't let the stories stop you.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Know Thyself

I usually happily make New Year's resolutions. I don't always accomplish all of them I make but I think that, I have done pretty well by them. Some past resolutions and goals have included finishing the elusive college degree, buying a house, remodelling projects, reminders to take care of myself or how I want to live. This year, however, I struggled.

My list was well, far from uplifting, inspiring or even fun. Oh, I had the usual carryovers to lose weight, exercise, keep the house organized and decluttered, keep finances organized, don't waste food (I can't believe how much I throw away), save money... I shuddered. Surely, this couldn't be my list. I fiddled with it a little. I added eat healthier food, get that toned, dancer's body back (hah, fat chance!), simplify life, finish the garden (unfortunately, conflicts with saving money). All good but still not anything interesting or inspiring. Nothing for which to strive. I lacked something to strive for. So, I'm still thinking about what I want to accomplish this year. But, in the meantime, I posted this photo of my garden, to remind me that hope springs eternal and soon it will be here.