buon giorno!

Nov 12, 2008 | Life in Progress


grab a cup of tea as it’s going to be a long one. i have so much to share. not just about italy, but about life now that i’m home, shop updates, where we’re moving next week (i’m calling out to you for help on that one), and so much more…

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?

cortona, italy
(a typical cortona front entry. gorgeous, no?)

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.

(probably my favorite photo from the entire trip. i love john’s face.)

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.

(florence…one of the very few sunny days)

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.


more news: taking flight continues to do well. there are currently no copies left in the publishing warehouse and it’s currently on backorder while it’s being reprinted. although this is fantastic news, it means that if you order the book through my website, it will not be shipped until mid december (just in time for christmas!). of course you can still order it thru amazon (got my first negative review over there…totally okay with it and it sort of made me chuckle. read it. you’ll see.).

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!

journal available at brushdance.com
(these flex journals are my fave)

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!

italy at night
(italy at nite)

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)…..

Sending much love,

Show/Hide Comments (49 comments)
  1. Gypsy Alex

    oh my oh my! magical all around! Thank you for such a thorough recount! You are so generous sharing you journey! Where do I start? Well, I absolutely LOVE the journal! Can’t wait to make one myself at some point. Italy sounds incredible paired with an ART workshop… Something I’d like to give myself permission to do someday. Your love story with John who (by the way) looks very Brad Pitt in that train shot ๐Ÿ˜› And how you are choosing to stay authentic to what feels right for you. So happy to have met you, girl. Always inspired by your confident and artistic spirit. xxox

  2. all over the map

    i *LOVE* your love story.
    so glad italy was magical for you in so many ways.
    i couldn't think of a better way to start off a new chapter in your lives. all fresh and reconnected to begin this new adventure.
    i have so many fond memories of seattle. i've spent a lot of time there. it's such a brilliant place.
    congrats to john on finishing his schooling. upwards & onwards.

  3. Anonymous

    Kelly Rae,

    I am in Seattle near some of the areas you are interested in. I know you are busy but if there is anything I can do to make your landing softer please let me know. Let me know if you’d like to come for a home cooked meal or anything. I too love Portland and I am excited to hear from Andrea you are going to be here.


    Jen Diamond

  4. LisaE

    I so love your blog and to think that you will be living in Seattle! I live 30 miles east of The Emerald City, in the beautiful Snoqualmie Valley in a little town called Carnation (yes, just like the flower). I bought your book last week and started reading it in the midst of bunch of distractions and decided to save it for this Wed. when I have some uninterrupted time…if I can wait that long ๐Ÿ™‚ I read the amazon review and I am with Kass take “the self help label… as a badge of honor”. I would define the title “artist” in many different ways, one being someone whose art is an expression of who they ARE…not whether or not you know the definition of gesso. Whew! Anyway, welcome! I hope that you will host some workshops around here sometime and was wondering if you will be teaching next year at ArtFest in Port Townsend? I’ll be scrambling for a spot if that’s the case. Thanks for your lovely writing.

  5. Jill Nalette

    It’s good to have you back. What a wonderful blog kelly Rae. A lot of insight and inspiration. I wish you and John great luck in the move and yeah, John will be done. Congrates to him as well.
    Love and Smiles,

  6. bridgette

    seattle is a magical place. good luck with your move and getting settled. Just left seattle for chicago and missing it intensely. So much so, we might just move back one day.

    Get yourself to Macrina bakery in Queen Anne- you won’t be sorry! ooh, also Diablo Cafe on Queen Anne Ave. Love that place!

  7. celeste

    we moved from Berkeley a year ago to Seattle. we love it. best of luck with the housing search.

  8. BigCat

    Wonderful post Kelly Rae. It’s great catching up on all your thinking, dreaming, planning.

    I’m sorry to hear you won’t be visiting us in Australia. I guess that means I’ll have to find a way to come to where you’re teaching someday.

  9. Laura

    Kelly, may the coming weeks of celebration, leave taking, and introductions bring you much joy.

  10. Steph

    Welcome to Seattle Kelly Rae! Love, love, love your work!
    I spend many nights apart from my hubby as well.. your words resonate with me, oh how they do!

  11. Paris Parfait

    Kelly am thrilled to hear your trip to Italy was affirming on so many levels for you. Gorgous photos. And Seattle??!! What a wonderful city; it’s one of the cities we’re considering to live part of each year, after Paris (still two or three years to go here). I expect you’ll love it there! Wishing you all the best in your move. Congrats to your husband on the happy occasion of his graduation! Very exciting days ahead for you both.

  12. Catherine Houdek

    I can’t recall how I came across your blog, perhaps Andrea Scher? But I am enamored with it! I read with earnest about your Italy experiences – it is high on my list of destinations to visit, and I cried as I read this post about you reconnecting with your husband. There was something so powerful in your raw honesty and I have no doubt in touched something in my own need to reconnect with my hubbie in a soulful way. Thank you for sharing! I am so grateful.

  13. Kim

    Oh Kelly, I envy your trip to Italy. I am sure it was totally amazing! I am glad you are back and all is well. I don’t envy you in your move though, we just did that a few months ago. I know it’s tough and if I was closer, I would definitely help.
    I loved your book Taking Flight and it was such an inspiration to me. I found your sister Jennifer through the book and just love her art! I ordered a piece the other day. The dustpan photo holder, just too cute! I love it! Thanks for all that the book is, I loved every bit of it. I cannot wait to try the techniques and it has totally been what I needed to get me going with my art. I left my review on amazon for the book (5 stars of course) and read the 1 bad review, it is funny, and I’m sure somewhere, someone is looking for that person to get them back on their meds. It was a joke. Good luck with your move! I hope all goes well! God Bless!

  14. Kimberly

    I just purchased Take Flight last night. I’ve just read a chapter while my little ones nap.
    Love it.
    Thank you.
    Now it’s time to brew another pot of tea and get back to the work I need to do before they awaken.
    My heart is awake with possibility.

  15. pixie

    i have been checking back here each day so excited to see exactly where in the northwest you would settle! you are so needed in ANYONE’s art community! knowing a snippet about your plans for the future, it sounds like the perfect place, especially as described by denise grogan! it will not be long before we will be heading up too…one more baby and one more year.
    you are creating a beautiful life, kelly. i’m so happy you share it with us all and never cease to inspire with your courage and grace.
    xoxo p

  16. mom-b

    I love you kelly, glad to had you had such a great trip….. finding out monday if bby no.2 is a boy or a girl. hope it’s a girl so i can finally get a kelly rae ๐Ÿ™‚ Missing you in Jax

  17. laura

    Thank you again for letting me “stalk” my way into the workshop in Cortona. To be able to create under two such nurturing people was an experience I will never forget!

  18. stef

    so happy to hear about your trip to italy and all of it’s wonders! much love to you and john and your adventure to seattle! i’m just sorry we couldn’t of spent more time together …


  19. Teri Leigh

    We are going to miss you in Portland but Seattle is only a few hours away. I hope your move goes well and thanks for sharing your heart. You are a blessing!

  20. jenica

    so so so happy for you!


  21. Denise Grogan

    Welcome to Seattle (almost).

    I was going to move to Portland but then we decided to try Ballard for awhile. We love it and now our future plans have changed. We were going to live in the Pearl and have a beach cabin in Manzanita. But not now!

    There are so many galleries, restaurants and funky retail opening up in the old industrial part of the town. I live in a brick bungalow in Loyal Heights (north ballard). Found it on Craigslist. We also own a condo at NOMA that is right down in the thick of things. We use it as an art space, etc. Ballard is a dog lovin’ walkin’ community — great dog park at Golden Gardens and the best little coffee house (Cafe Fiore) 85th Street where everyone ties up their dogs and enjoys coffee/tea. But watch out . . . there are a lot of moms and strollers walking around the neighborhood. You could become one of them!

    Just a note — my favorite art space/gallery/shop is VENUE in Ballard. They have art/work studios within the gallery. Great concept.

    Good luck and again welcome!

  22. bettyann

    Welcome to the Pacific Northwest..I live 2.5 hrs north of Seattle and look forward to attending a course with you..good luck with the move..

  23. Tamsie

    Welcome Home – it’s the old saying, home is where the heart is…and that opens so many doors.

  24. Dale

    Kelly, your post here is fabulously enchanting. The pictures of Italy made me drool too. I am fascinated by the architecture and way of life. Looks like you guys had a great time!

    Glad your book is doing so well!

  25. jenifer74

    oh wow! seattle!! i hope seattle treats you with open arms and lots of love & community ๐Ÿ™‚ sorry we weren't able to hang out more while you were here, but glad to have spent time with you anyways ms kelly rae! xxx.

  26. Gwen

    No ideas on rentals, but I live just north of Seattle, and I am absolutely thrilled that you will be in the area!

    I love your book, BTW, and will write more about it later.


  27. Marel Lecone

    Glad you’re back–and, so glad to hear that you and your man are doing well. If, in the end, that was not the case–I would truly be sad. Nurture that love, for sure. Take care.

  28. joinmeonthepath

    WOW! Thank you for sharing your amazing trip and for sharing the love that surrounded you while you were there. Love is all there is (in my humble opinion).

    Wishing you traveling mercies to your new home in Seattle.

    peace & love

  29. Carol Sloan

    I am so proud of you for realizing and actingon what You Need…not everyone else. You. Your Family. That speaks so loudly to me. Take.Time.To.Breathe.To.Love.
    you’re awesome

  30. Holly

    Seattle! Lucky us! ๐Ÿ™‚ Your other commenters are right–it’s definitely a good time to rent! Strike a deal, girl!

    And welcome home!

  31. katie

    seattle? really? what a dream come true for you to be in our area just when we need you most.

    your book has been life changing..and although i’m sure you’re set on the city of seattle, issaquah is a budding little art community just to the east in the foothills of the cascades. we’d love to have you here.

    there is also a little bungalow, from the pages of a fairytale, nestled steps from town, owned by seattlites, waiting for the perfect renters….leave me a comment if you are interested in pictures.

  32. Lelainia N. Lloyd

    Kelly, I am just 3 1/2 hours north of Seattle in BC. You officially have an open invitation to come visit any time. Mi Casa es su casa.

    Seriously. If you want to poke around here, I’m your girl!

    Congratulations on your pending new home. YAY!! SO happy for you. Seattle is wonderful and alot like Vancouver.

  33. Anonymous



  34. Brenda

    I’m so glad you are learning to say NO! It is hard at first but feels so uplifting afterwards. Life is for living. Hope your move goes well – I’m sure you will meet lots of creative souls. Love your pics from Italy.

  35. Kelly

    hello from north florida, kelly rae. beautiful post! your trip sounds truly magical and how wonderful to find time there to reconnect with john. i hope i can attend an art retreat like that one day! good luck with your move.

  36. Tracy

    Your trip sounds amazing. I long to travel through Italy. Congrats on your new Seattle adventure!

  37. kirsten

    i love that mirrored picture of you & john. so sweet & whimsical.

    and: i am a seattle-ite!! … well, not in the strictest sense, but i am an east-sider, so it's a quick drive across the 90 into seattle. i am a recent transplant (moved from a much shorter distance, from about an hour & a half north), so i will be looking to build & create new community down there too.

    i'm so excited for you & what this new journey will hold for you and john!!

    peace! ;o)

  38. Kerstin

    Hi Kelly,

    I am also de-lurking. Firstly, I just moved 3000 miles away from my husband and this will be our arrangement for the next 3-4 years so I can totally understand how you are feeling. Even though this was the right decision for us it still is very very hard. As you know. And now you get to be together again and start a new life, oh this is so exciting!!

    Secondly, welcome (back) to the Pacific Northwest. I just moved here, too, ca. 1.5 hours north of Seattle, and like you this is the area where I feel most myself. It’s pure magic and, well, home. How wonderful to have you so close in the future, I look forward to maybe more workshops in this area, even though I am not an artist, but I love all that you have done and do.

    It sounds like you had a truly magical time in Italy, I loved seeing the photos.

    Best of luck with the move and everything! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Take care,

  39. Kelly

    welcome home it’s great to hear all about your trip sounds like it was amazing. I live on the east coast but was in seattle for a week a few years ago and fell in love with it. You will adore seattle so much to see and do and the people are amazing. sounds like you were able to reconnect with the best part of yourself and your marriage. good luck to you both the future sounds like it holds some wonderful things for you.

  40. Katrina

    oh kelly, I am in awe of you and how you listen to your inner guidance and synchronicity. It is so inspirational. I am sad you won’t be nearby and that our busy schedules have made it so that I won’t see you before you move to Seattle. But know that I’ll be thinking of you and following you through your blog and email, and that I am just so grateful to know you. Big, big hugs and best of luck!

  41. kass

    you are waaaay too kind to me, but I appreciate your sweetness. I hope the move to Seattle is a good one for you – I have always wanted to go there, the birthplace of Pearl Jam!!

    I also read that review…..um……I thought it was pretty obvious from the front cover that it was a mixed media type book. Personally I’d take the “self help” label on board as a badge of honour!

  42. Chookooloonks

    Welcome back. I missed you! And your photos — well, they hold something new. A new spirit. I see it.

    I’m good at seeing that sort of thing.


  43. justagirl

    wow wee…

  44. Rekoj

    Hello Kelly – the girl with the same name as your Grandma here – I live in Seattle and LOVE it even though I too have Portland in my heart (grew up-ish there). This very same day it was announced that two of the members of the Apex Belltown Co-op would be moving onwards. Which means two rooms will be opening. It's certainly not a bungalow and it's certainly not traditional, but it is an instant arts community within 3 blocks of the Pike Place Market at a WAY affordable cost.
    Not sure if this would be appealing to you guys or not.
    Regardless – I'd be happy to help you guys out with the crazy quick transition in any way I could. Best of Luck & Serendipity to you!!

  45. Tanaya

    Your trip sounds amazing and wonderful and perfect in so many ways. Oh, Seattle….we’ll be neighbors!

    I’m renting in Magnolia right now (between Queen Anne and Ballard) and I would be thrilled to help you get settled. There are a ton of rental properties on the market right now because nobody wants to sell if they don’t have to. I’ll keep my eyes open for something that looks spectacular.

    Feel free to email me if there is anything that I can do to help.

  46. Shalet

    Well Seattle is a great place – we’ve loved it every time we’ve visited.

    And Italy – oh you make me long for Italy. We were incredibly lucky to go there in 2007. I hope someday to make it back.

    Best of luck on your move!

  47. Lea

    Also de-lurking to say WELCOME TO SEATTLE! I actually live in Olympia, but it’s close. ๐Ÿ™‚ I hope you have a great move. I think you will love it here. Although, I do love Portland too.

    So happy for you that you are back together and for good days ahead.

  48. Jolie

    De-lurking to say Yay for Seattle! I’ll keep my eyes open for rentals…

    If I can help with anything else for your move, please let me know. There are several really great ActivSpace openings in my building right now, too.


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Helloย + welcome!

Iโ€™m Kelly Rae Roberts

Before I picked up my first paintbrush at the age of 30, I was a medical social worker. I followed my creative whispers, and today Iโ€™m an artist & Possibilitarian. Iโ€™m passionate about creating meaningful art and experiences that awaken and inspire our spirits.

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