i’ve been home from italy for a couple of days now. jet lag has me waking up at 4am, with a bedtime of 7pm. in between, i’ve been unpacking my bags, my thoughts, and my memories. it was a deeply meaningful trip in so many ways…
mati and i arrived in cortona completely in awe of this incredibly picturesque city on a hill, where olive trees were plenty and where vast scenes of the tuscan landscape looked exactly has it does in the movies. as we roamed the gorgeous streets of cortona, we marveled at all the lovely distressed architecture, the windows with their flower boxes and wooden shutters, the elderly italian women gingerly tending to their tiny gardens along the narrow streets, the storekeepers sweeping their storefronts with old fashioned brooms, and on and on. we witnessed sweet gatherings of men (young and old) each morning as they congregated in conversation – all of them dressed in style. we drank tea, cappuccinos, took photos, napped, and prepared for the days ahead. what would it be like, we wondered? what would are students be like? where were they traveling from? and what were their stories?
the week of teaching in cortona was packed with an ambitious itinerary. it went something like this: breakfast at 8am (usually tea and a croissant with marmalade), class from 9-1, then a two hour delicious lunch from 1-3, then class again from 3-6. each nite we enjoyed a wine tastings from 6:30-8pm followed by a three hour dinner at one of the many amazing restaurants in cortona. i have never in my entire life spent so much time eating or drinking (six hours a day) but it was divine. i fell in love with cappuccinos (i don’t even drink coffee in my real life), gnocchi, gelato, fumo sauce, chocolate croissants, and so much more. i’d be lying if i didn’t include the fact that there was some serious exhaustion keeping up with the fun, the schedule, the food, the wine, but it was amazing. all of it. oh yes, and there were daytrips to florence and local markets mixed in during the week. my oh my.
our students were a lovely bunch of women, all with their own unique creative story. i was struck by the common thread in all of us: we listened to our creative callings and we allowed them to lead us all the way to an adventure in italy – even with all our our personal dramas and confusion and complicatedness of what it means to claim that we are artists (who am i to sign up for a creative retreat in italy? who am i to teach at a creative retreat in italy?). we all showed up. we all welcomed in the experience. we all paid attention and took a chance. and let me tell you. these women had some serious talent and humor. we laughed and laughed all week, especially at nite when a bit of delirium set in. our dinners evolved into full-on giggling sessions that had us all going to bed happy and fulfilled. i have a special spot for each of them. it was quite honestly a week i will never forget.
and then john arrived.
now is the part where i tell you that over the course of the last two years, i have sadly grown accustomed to being a part from the love of my life (for those of you who may be new to this blog, my husband, john, has spent the large part of the last two years traveling during the weeks to various clinical rotations while enduring an intense 2 years as a graduate student in the field of nurse anesthesia). we’ve done our best to get through it, but it hasn’t been easy and it’s been very difficult to feel the callousing of my heart as it makes heavy efforts to cope and get used to the time apart, week after week. i suspected that when john arrived in italy, i would greet him as i have done so many other times these last two years: with open arms, but with bated breath as i knew another departure was just around the corner. but something unlocked for me when i saw him open the door to italy. he was there, with his backpack on, all smelly and gross from the long travel day. and i just fell in love all over again. with this man. with our life together.
we spent the next week roaming italy with our hearts connected to one another in ways that felt expansive and renewed. we cuddled underneath our umbrella as it rained almost everyday that we were there. we danced in our hotel rooms. we had long, long conversations that were healing and validating to us both. we thanked one another for the support and endurance of this journey in california. we apologized for when we weren’t our best selves. we kissed and made up. we dreamt about finally moving on to our next adventure. we celebrated the days ahead that would include john’s graduation (next week!) and our move back to the northwest (also next week!). we slept in, ate ridiculous amounts of food, tended to our souls.
as we drifted off into this italian experience, i could visibly see john reclaiming his spirit, his adventurous nature, his laid back persona, his sillyness – all things that have been a bit shy to fully reveal themselves while under pressure in school. i could feel myself doing the same: reclaiming my priorities (i spoke about this a bit in my last two posts), my direction, my choices.
italy reminded me that i’ve been on an incredible, almost unbelievable journey myself these last two years. that my creative life exploded during a deeply hard time of transition in my personal life. that it all matters. that life is messy and unpredictable. but through all of that, i must must must make choices that continue to allow my spirit to reveal itself to itself.
and so arrived home with a renewed sense of purpose in my own life, in my marriage, in my future. i cancelled a few 2009 travel plans and all of my 2010 travel plans (including my teaching trip to australia…i’m so sorry!). i’m learning to say no. and that it means i, along with my creative business, will not disappear while doing so. i’m learning to boldly say goodbye to some serious opportunities in trust that other doors will open that feel more like me. i really want to stay grounded in hope and learn to make choices that will reflect that hope, that will stay true to who i am and who i want to become.
so there you have it. italy rearranged me, my heart, my dreams. i feel so much better now.
(photo credit here.)
ok, on to big news: we are moving to seattle. portland, you have my heart, but seattle, you have our future. you better be good to us, ok? i can’t tell you how thrilled we are to get back to the northwest where we feel most like ourselves, where we have a lot of room to breathe. this is a big departure from our plans to always return to portland, but there have been some serious divine signs that are telling us that seattle is where we need to be and we are trusting in this new direction with big, ginormous hopeful hearts.
we are in a mad mad rush to move next week. please, if you live in seattle, or if you know anyone in seattle, please reach out to me. i’d love to start creating community.
also, if you have any leads on cute craftsman bungalows for rent in ballard, fremont, queen anne, or greenlake, please let us know.
many of you continue to write wonderful reviews on your blogs (thank you!). one of my favorite recent reviews came from kass, a young woman struggling through her third cancer diagnosis. she is a brave brave spirit full of light – i knew it the minute i found her blog. and then to stumble upon her review of taking flight, well, i was smitten.
also, the taking flight yahoo group has been taking flight itself with daily activity and inspiring posts. we’d love to have you join in on the fun!
in time for the holidays, i wanted to let you know that my etsy shop has been updated with a few more journals (these are adorable) and stationery sets. i will not have any more quantities posted before the new year so get em’ while you can! they would make fantastic gifts.
business is as usual even through our move. i’ll be making frequent runs to the post office up until christmas!
okay, peeps. if you’ve made it this far, thank you for sticking it out. hoping all is well and as they say in italy, sogni d’oro (dreams of gold)…..