thoughts on perspective + italy

Oct 31, 2008 | Life in Progress

i just wanted to pop over and say the obvious: i love italy. i have so much to say and to share that i’m not sure where to start. and i so wish i had the ability to upload a few photos but i’m at this random computer with a funny keyboard and so the photos will arrive later, i promise. i am feeling so far away from my life – from work, from the computer, from meaningless distractions and to-do lists, from the noise of pressure, from my studio, traffic, and clocks. the italians are so indulgent with their late morning arrivals to work, their morning gatherings of community, their two hour lunches, their glasses of wine throughout the day, their three hour delicious dinners, not to mention their gorgeous language and conversation. i loved that i just showed up here, not really knowing what to expect, and with a beginner’s curiosity. i am gratefully overwhelmed with the slower pace and completely enchanted with how they live here.

i am soaking it all up. in my quiet moments, i’m realizing how sadness has been the undertone of my life back home. how for two solid years i’ve been trying so hard to be strong and brave while waiting for my life to begin again. how i have missed the routine of being with my husband every single day and how loneliness has become a familiar companion. how i’ve missed living in a city that feels like home and how important that feeling is. how i’ve been on a single track momentum to just make it thru the my temporary life in california, never quite feeling settled or comforted in any way – even thru all the wonderfulness of the last couple of years. perhaps i could have done a better job making room for what’s important, for taking better care. it seems italy has gifted me so far with a bit of perspective. i somehow knew this would happen and i suppose i’m ready for it – for the acknowledgement that i’ve been doing my very best to maintain my brave face back home, but really what my heart needs to say is that it’s exhausted by all of that brave face maintenance, by all of that trying so hard to make it work, by all of the analysis of heart and mind, by all of the constant activity. in the end, my soul still longs for some nurturing downtime to reaquaint itself with myself, with john, with how i envision my life from this moment forward. these have been constant whispers for so long now. it seems i’m always just on the cusp of grasping their wisdom and making some changes, only to be lifted up by the wave and wind again, never sure where my center is. i will find it, i’m sure, but for now, this is the hard truth of where i am right now.

somewhere along the line i lost my footing. i’m learning more than ever that i must have both feet firmly planted in the earth before i can ever really maintain flight. that i must make some roots, wherever that may be. that i must do something every single day that breathes my spirit, that says hello, kelly rae, you are indeed right here and you are okay just as you are, where you are. i am feeling the release even as i type this. the long breathe. the gentle tears. the awakening.

thank you, italy. so far, you are good peeps.

and mati and i love our students. i have so much to say about them, but it will have to come with another post. but yes, they are delightful in every way. and we are so grateful….


and one more thing: the entire world is watching. everywhere we go, the news is about our election. locals are talking about it. travelers are waiting in anticipation. and my heart is heavy with hope that mr. obama may indeed win the world over with his clarity, honesty, and vision. i can hardly wait and what a story it will be: where were you when the whole world changed with the election of hope and inspiration? well, i was in italy, completely in love with possibility, both for my own life, and for the life our our country.

Sending much love,

Show/Hide Comments (30 comments)
  1. stephanie alaine

    krr: i totally miss you! i just felt like you needed to know. can’t wait for your inspiration to be brought home. home this time has been restorative and healing!

    really just wanted you to know how much your words and your wisdom is missed.
    all the best!

  2. 2Travelers

    and I, Kelly Rae, need your blog-thoughts more than ever – because I, unlike you and what seems to be just about ALL your fans, am a Republican. I am not looking forward to an Obama administration – it will bring change, yes, but the kinds of change that we may not be able to live with … but this country WILL get change, you can rest assured on that. you know I love your blog; you know I love your book; you know I love your art; so it's a natural that I just love … you. we don't have to agree politically, KRR, to be "friends" — I can appreciate who you are, how you are, and the things you do — without agreeing with you about politics & such. Right? — D.

  3. Rachael

    Sigh!! I spent my previous semester studying abroad in Siena and Florence… taking motorcycle rides with men through the hills of Chianti… eating 3 hour dinners and sipping absolutely delicious capuccinos in between classes (and in the middle of class, too whenever i felt i needed a break). it’s true that italy, more than so many other places, seriously shapes and awakens perspective on how to breathe in daily beauty, momentary gifts, because they are all around. but 5 months later (wow, i can’t believe it) i find myself realizing that it takes much more than a place to breathe in daily satisfaction. as much as i hate to admit it, i found many moments of saddness and loneliness and desperation, even in italy–even living 50 YARDS from the duomo–even crossing the arno river over looking the ponte vecchio every single day on my way to school–even through sunsets and painting on the hills of tuscany–even through free wine everywhere i went and amazingly thoughtful roommates. so here i am, in gray and gloomy college park, maryland realizing that it’s about time i wake up to life. it’s about time i stop expecting an extraordinary unknown gift at my feet and awake to the realization that breathing, living, and working hard for a positive perspective is my choice. gosh, it can be exhausting, challenging, frustrating, helpless and hopeless feeling–an endless fight to find any bit of continuous love, community, appreciation, validation….this struggle i know quite well, and i know that it bites the big one. but i’m giving it up today. i’m giving up the idea that it’s got to be complicated or monumentous–those things are so scary and persuade us not to act. screw it. it’s simple. it’s a simple as starting the day with a deep breath and smile. as simple as feeling the wind against my face and thanking the universe for my sense of touch. as simple as being intimate with life, aware of the thousands of gifts we’re given every day, and having an attitude that shows our gratitude. as simple as taking a small initiative, creating what’s missing rather than looking everywhere else for it. this is what i’m learning and striving for today, on this beautiful cold and windy day in college park, maryland.

    you are a dear soul for reading my mile long comment… and i hope you know that your words strike a deep and resonating chord, your struggle and your excitement are all things i’ve felt and feel. thanks for sharing. some posts from my time in italy at if you’re interested 🙂

  4. Katrina

    my dear friend, so glad to know italy is offering perspective and a new vantage of life back home. i just popped in to your delightful world to say hello. i haven’t seen you in so long. it would be great to reconnect when you get back. sending love your way…


  5. jan.s

    Your posts Kelly Rae are always soul/full and I honour you on your journey. Much good cheer to you and enjoy your stay in Italy. jan.s

  6. oksana

    Congratulation with your new president!!! I believe that change the most important things to the right way!
    Have a great time in Italy. I hope that next time I can join you:))

  7. rdn

    I love your book and your writing. And may I say that what you are experiencing as lack of roots or connections is normal in your situation. You have taken on a whole new life and career and like a new cutting from a plant, you need to take time for the roots to grow. And grow they will – they already are! You feel a little “wobbly” because, like a new cutting, you need to have some extra support. In a few weeks, months or years, the strong supporting roots will be there and you will truly take flight.

  8. Maria

    What a momentus day! I'm so happy for your country! A young, intelligent & articulate man, a true leader!
    Go Obama!

  9. Steph

    hope, hope, hope – yes!

  10. Di

    So eloquently spoken. Hope you find more of the same as you find that perspective for your life back home. You are an inspiration! x

  11. Lorraine

    Whilst you are in Italy dont forget to visit Tuscany and the lovely cities of Siena and Firenze. Your book arrived today I love the paper it is printed on and all the inpirational ideas especially making plaster forms. Looking forward to being able to paint some canvases after the christmas chaos. Thanks for taking the step of writing this book

  12. Jill Nalette

    I’m looking forward to hearing and seeing more about your time in Italy. Your words a beautiful and I’m hoping for Obama too!!
    Enjoy the rest of your trip and safe travels home.

  13. kitasmom

    a quote from a small piece of paper found taped under a folding chair in a playhouse: "Go ahead & try something NEW. Make mistakes. Get messy. Have fun." girlie, life is not so much about attaining goals & "things" as it is just soaking in the wonder of it All. you sound like you hit the sponge phase! you are very special, miss kelly rae.

  14. Lucy

    You are such an eloquent writer, one I truly love to soak in all of your musings. Many times I’ve felt the way you have about the brave face, the feeling of not truly being centered and grounded where you were… fact, I feel like I spent the last 10 years feeling that way—and now it’s all slipped by in a blink of an eye. This year has been a turning point though, I’ve finally realized that I can create that feeling of belonging and feeling centered by reaching out and being there for someone else–with someone else, for someone else. All along, I was waiting for it (them) to come to me when I should have been the one to open the door and allow others to come in…if this makes any sense.

    Enjoy the rest of your trip–it sounds fascinating! Looking forward to your wonderful photos!

  15. celeste

    i hope you both voted by absentee before going!

    oh, and i always felt that berkeley/sf was an area as close to europe sensibilities as any in the u.s.

  16. sperlygirl

    ciao kelly,

    italy is a gift, isn’t she? in so many ways. she has forever changed my life. i am happy to hear her magic is felt by others. so enjoyed our day with you and mati – sure wish it could have been the week. warmly, suzanne

  17. Marilyn Miller, the Marmalady

    Thanks for your words of struggle. They put words to so many that are looking for hope in the future.

  18. ambrella

    It is so nice to hear your experience here. Since I live here now there are moments when I forget to appreciate things like the long lunch. Thanks for the reminder 🙂

    And your post really brings to mind something I realized in conversation once. We often ask one another, “How is life treating you?” Though it is just a matter of speaking, I think an important distinction is, “How are you treating life?”

    You are in control (in a matter of speaking :)) of you experience, and that also means that you can decide to not be perfectly radiant and brave and talented every moment. Is that really even possible?


  19. kt40

    Hey kelly,
    I am glad Italy is helping you slow down and take a breath I know it has done that for me . Thank you again for the day, your and Mati’s generosity was just what I needed. Wish I could have stayed the whole week. Katy

  20. Sacred Yoli

    I truly believe no one comes back the same person, after visiting Italy. She is so magical.Welcome to the rest of your vida! I can’t wait to see what your arte looks like upon your return.


  21. JuliaRose

    Hi Kelly,
    Thank you for sharing with others how you are really feeling…keeping up the “brave face”…is so exhausting, I know. And once you allow yourself to let go of it, and still feel strong enough to face the world, it just gets better ……I am glad you are having some joy and Italy is the place to let go and slow down, just not on the motorways for some reason?…LOL…
    I hope you come home comforted by being in such a soul centred place…xx

  22. Jennifer/The Word Cellar

    I went through a terribly rough patch about two years ago and remember aching for some care and comfort. I longed for someone to nurture me, protect me, soothe me, tell me it would all be okay. I had love and support in my life, but in the end I think I ended up being the person I longed for. This post made me think of that experience. I’m glad that Italy is being good to you. Be good to yourself and enjoy.

  23. Carol Z

    YOU are fabulous. Honest. Sincere. Keep moving forward Kelly Rae. You may not always feel like an inspirationh to others, but you are. LOVE your book and your blog. Can’t wait to hear more when you return!

  24. Dana Loffland

    Oh Kelly, You ARE on the cusp of some wonderful things! I envy your insight of our country from others’ views. I have ‘everything’ crossed for the change that this election might bring. I have been walking a lot lately and am thinking of you walking where so many generations of feet have walked before. Take care of yourself and keep listening for those whisperings.

  25. liz elayne lamoreux

    this post is filled with such goodness…you are doing the heavy lifting right now. it is beautiful and real. i am proud of you.

    and i can’t wait to hear more about this incredible experience you and mati are having together…

    much love,

  26. Renee Troy

    I’m a big fan of your work, your book and your writing. I’m so glad you like Italy. I’ve not been…but some day.
    After reading your post, a few things comes to mind…when you’re young you think you have all the time in the world to anticipate what has not arrived yet in your life; to focus on a future time when everything you are desiring today will finally come and change your life for the better. I can relate because I’ve been where by you speak several times in my life. I find that now, at my age (a young 62), that I spent so much time in the future and missed so much that was happening around me at the time. Well, my future is here and if I kept that up I would never be able to enjoy the precious moments that happen on a daily basis. I think it’s why they say “youth is wasted on the young”. Always striving and focusing on something you don’t have yet, missing and appreciating what you’ve achieved so far…
    You are a deep thinker so I’m going to be bold enough to give you food for thought. All we have is the moment we are in because we don’t know when it will be taken away from us. If you are thinking about something a day from now, a week, etc., you miss what is around you in a very profound way. What you miss you cannot take with you.
    I’ll finish by saying that you are very blessed. Stay focused on your blessings, all that you have now, the moment by moments of each day and fill yourself with that. You will then have so much more to give tomorrow.
    God bless, enjoy Italy by moments and have a safe trip home.

  27. christine

    thank you for this, seriously.

    you write your feelings so well and in a way I wish I knew how.

    i’ve been to italy and i know exactly what you’re talking about.

    here in london everyone is waiting with baited breath to see if Obama wins as well.

    just remember while you’re there it OK to have gelato before breakfast!

  28. Chookooloonks

    So glad you’re enjoying yourself, friend. I think of you and Mati often on this fabulous trip you’re both on.

  29. Maria

    I am loving your book, thank you! Hope your special trip brings you the clarity you are seeking,
    best wishes
    Maria, Down Under 😀


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I’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 I’m an artist & Possibilitarian. I’m passionate about creating meaningful art and experiences that awaken and inspire our spirits.

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