Friday, January 31, 2014

Change of Plans

I am known to change plans. I think of something and sometimes I go with it and sometimes I just discard it. Some might find this way of doing an unsteady one. Others are like me.
I was thinking about this ability of mine when I had to decide ... not to travel to China. I had made plans to travel to China at the end of March. Visiting some friends. Traveling to Shanghai and then later to Beijing. The original idea for this trip came up because of a special offer of an airline company. I don't want to bore you with the details of the story. The bottom line is: due to a misunderstanding between myself and the guy from the travel agency ... I missed the deadline for the booking of the special price ticket. (Funny enough: I am totally not the kind of girl who misses deadlines or doesn't give clear instructions but somehow this time it was a succession of funny things leading to ... me not going to China because the normal flight ticket is too expensive for me. I wonder if "something" inside of me was not ready yet to go to China or maybe "something" told me not to spend money on China but to wait for another travel destination? The future will show...)

Anyway.
I am not traveling to China and that's it. I have been sad about this change of plans (it would have been a wonderful trip!) but not more.
I believe in coincidences and therefore all this mixup was meant to be. I don't know why yet but I someday will.
In the end, it was just an idea, right? Some ideas might get real, others not and sometimes they need to be changed. I was talking about the whole "change of ideas" thing with my cousin, a couple of weeks back.  That day, we had made plans to do X but then something came up (which I thought was not only important but fun as well) and I suggested ... that we changed our plans. She was astonished and told me that all the other persons she knows would have stuck with the "old" plans and let the opportunity go by just because they don't like "to change plans".
It was my turn to be astonished.
I, for my part, often think that I don't grab all the opportunities thoroughly enough. I still practice the "grabbing the moment" way of life. In my cousin's eye though I was already pretty good at that.

Perception is relative, my dears!
(and I still keep on praticing!)

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Spring in Winter

We are having a totally strange winter. I am not complaining, mind you. NOT AT ALL. But it's January and it feels like April. In the mornings I can hear the birds chirp and I have noticed the first primroses in the garden. Incredible.
But then suddenly last week I felt like I had to go ... see some snow! At least once this winter. Therefore, I decided to take a trip up to the mountains on Sunday. Snowy landscapes have their own charm, don't you think?




Saturday, January 25, 2014

Friday, January 24, 2014

Bad Habits

Why is it so difficult to change unhealthy habits?
We all KNOW things like (and the sentence always starts with "I should"): eat less sugar, eat less altogether, have a healthier live in general, eat more vegetables, exercise more, stop smoking or drinking, etc.
We KNOW that some "things" aren't good for us i.e. our health.
We KNOW that the older we get the more our body will show gratefulness for the (good) way we've treated him.
We KNOW IT.
But what do we do?
Most of the time?
Honestly speaking?
Nothing.
Sometimes though?
Well, sometimes, we are giving it a try and succeed ... if only for a month (remember the guy from the gym I've mentioned in my earlier post?)

Other times people do not even try to change. You will hear stuff like "life is already shitty enough. If I stop smoking/eating/drinking I won't have anything left".

But then sometimes changes are for good. Think of people who stopped smoking or drinking or have lost a lot of weight or got over anorexia. Not just for the duration of a month. No. For the rest of their lives. While talking to such people you will find out that they have indeed stopped smoking (as an example) but that doesn't mean that they haved stopped ... thinking about smoking. They accept this feeling and go on ... NOT smoking. What keeps them going is pure will power. Admirable.

What helps to strenghten our will power is what I call "the feeling good factor".
Remember when I decided to eat in a healthier way? The first couple of weeks were ... a big pain. Organizing my meals, go through cook books, decide what to eat several days in advance etc. It took so much time and so much effort.
But then the "feeling good factor" chimed in. I felt good not having to think about what to cook ALL the time. It felt good eating wonderful meals. It felt good spending less money.
From this moment on, my life got easier. Much easier.

I feel like telling you (should you be in a similar situation) and myself:
Keep on going. And be patient.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

New Year's Resolutions

Funny enough, in most of the blogs I am following, January is also about ... new resolutions. Not only in the blogs I read. No. New Year's resolutions are most apparent ... at the gym. In January (like every year) the place gets overcrowded with people who ... overdo it (that's why you recognize them as "new entries"). There was this guy, last week, on the treadmill. Oh my. He was running and running and running (and breathing heavily!!) and for a second I thought that he was going to have a heart attack. I swear. His face was dark red and his breathing got heavier every second. I got really scared for him. Luckily, he stopped running before we had to call an ambulance.
I am quite sure that I won't be seeing this guy in February nor in March nor in any other month of this year. I hope (for him) that I am wrong but I made the observation (over time) that usually New Year's Resolutions aren't long lasting.
I believe that new resolutions are to be made when you feel them, like "right now is the time to change this or that", and not because it's January of a new year.

I was thinking about this the other day, when a friend of mine told me that he was drinking less coffee. Apparently, one fine day, while drinking coffee in the office, he suddenly realized that his coffee "consumption" somehow had reached new and unfortunate high levels. His wife and his friends repeatedly had told him to lower his coffee consumption. He knew that he was drinking too much coffee but... (you know how this is). Until that one fine day. He told me that he was sipping his coffee when he suddenly realized that he had to stop. Too much caffeine.
That was it for him. From that day he resolved to drink just one coffee per day. And has been doing so since then.
You'll be arguing that making the resolution to drink less coffee (or whatever your resolution is about) is one part of the story.
The other would be ... to actually drink less coffee. Day after day. That's where it gets really difficult and that's why most resolutions remain what they are: resolutions (as in opposite to "actions").
Otherwise we'd be perfect human beings ... and we'd live in a perfect world.
Too boring, right?

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Our World ... is Alive


Berlin

It's official now!
I am off to Berlin.
In February.
For four days.
Can't wait.

I don't really have the money to go off on a weekend in Northern Europe but on the other hand... I will be staying with a friend of mine and the flight ticket was really cheap and ... and...
I will always find excuses to go on a trip, believe me!

The last time I've been to Berlin was ... like ages ago (I believe it's almost more than 10 years - can't remember exactly). I have a very fond memory of the city and can't wait to walk its streets, visit its museums, have coffee in its coffee shops and eat wonderful German pastry (I think Germans are the masters of pastry - at least pastry the way I like it: rich in calories and abundant SMILE).

Berlin - I'm coming!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Urbino

My Italian vacation was not only about shopping (or vintage clothes). It was also about culture - at least for one day. With one of my many cousins, we visited Urbino - the perfect Renaissance town. I love walking its narrow streets, getting lost in them. Some years back, I spent four whole weeks in this town (in the mornings I attended lectures at the university, the afternoons were for discovering the city). I have fond memories of the place and love to visit again and again.

Il Duomo




Thursday, January 16, 2014

Vintage II

This Italian vacation of mine was about vintage clothes (and some really nice bargains I made due to sales!). The same day I brought my male vintage coat to the tailor (see previous post), my aunt had a surprise ready for me.
My aunt, you have to know, is, what I call, some kind of local (unofficial, obviously) Caritas lady. She knows everybody (literally!) and loves to help. Some elderly people depend on her help (even though she will be 78 in February herself!). Un mito! People in return give her stuff. Usually it's food but sometimes it's clothes or shoes. She keeps the stuff if she likes it but most of the time she gives it away to people that are more in need or have a better use of it.
Better than any Caritas office!
One lady wanted her to have a cape (handmade by a taylor) which she had no use for any longer because sickness forced her to stay at home all the time (poor lady!). She thought that is was a pity to leave this cape in her closet as it was too beautiful and merited to be worn i.e. showed off.
How right she was!

The cape though was far too long for my cousin or my aunt (as I said they are shorter than I am) and therefore my aunt thought of me when she received the cape. I will be eternally grateful for that.
The cape can be worn on both sides - one being gray, the other gray with red patterns. It's wonderfully sewed and the cloth? Oh my, it's a wool mix but sooo soft. A pleasure to wear. And it looks pretty amazing and totally stylish. Can't wait it to be spring for real to wear it!





Monday, January 13, 2014

Vintage

I am usually not into vintage clothes. I sometimes roam fleet markets or vintage stores (I have even interviewed one owner http://simonettasworld.blogspot.ch/2013/12/the-others-world-owning-clothing-store.html) but rarely find clothes that fit me (curvy figures take more time to dress SMILE).
New year, new habits, it seems, because I am proud to announce to have become a proud owner of a wonderful vintage coat.

Let me tell you a story...
We were in my aunt's living room when my cousin unpacked the bag (with a coat and other clothes in it) sent to her by my mother. My mother bought this coat back in the eigthies and as she isn't wearing it any longer and moreover she and my cousin have the same size...
So, she was unpacking the big plastic bag and trying on this fabulous coat (my mother has wonderful taste, I have to admit), when we noticed that in the bag there was another coat. Another coat? My cousin unpacked it and my first impression was: this one is far too big for her. I was right. This one was far too big for her and so she looked at me and said: It looks like that this one is more for you. Try it on!
I did and it fit (almost) perfectly.
A wonderful male vintage coat.
WONDERFUL.
It must have belonged to my father - I've yet to find out.
To cut a long story short; The same day we went to a tailor and asked her if she could make it smaller around the shoulders, to reduce the width of the sleeves and to shorten them as well.
She said she could (this lady used to work in Milan for the likes of Giorgio Armani before retiring in her hometown!).
Five days and 15 Euros later (can you believe it - she charged the derisory amount of 15 Euros - I left a generous tip!!), I was the owner of a new vintage coat.
A wonderful vintage coat!!

I haven't worn it yet (we have springlike temperatures!) but the time will come! It's still a bit too big for me but this winter coats are worn this way. It looks so totally cool - can't wait to wear it!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

The Middle of Nowhere (Pictures)





Unfortunately, the sun disappeared behind the clouds when I took these pictures. You would have seen red soil (in all its shades). Wonderful!


In The Middle Of Nowhere

On New Year's Eve my cousin decided to take me for a ride to visit a natural arch. The village she lives in is small and feels like the middle of nowhere to me already but the place we visited to see this arch? Well, it's the total middle of nowhere, believe me. All around nothing but stones, bushes and trees. Beautiful!


Monte Catria. Do you see the snow on top? it's at about 1300 meters!
The arch was wonderful even though I need to come back to climb up there (with milder temperatures and better shoes!)
 

We were just leaving this beautiful and godforsaken place, when, on the bumby (very!) and small (even more!) road I notice a car behind us. Incredible! Apparently there is a village up in the mountains where few people still lived. I decided to let it pass and stopped my car on the right side of the street (street?). The car didn't pass though, no! It stopped. For a second I felt some kind of panic. Why did it stop? What did he want? We were in the middle of nowhere he could do whatever with us and nobody would see or hear us! My fertile imagination was already working on some scary scenarios! hahahahaha
Somehow I stayed calm - on the outside at least.
He opened the car window while I did the same and once I heard my cousin say: "Ciao Cesare!" I felt relieved. She knew him.
THANK. YOU. GOD.
What followed though left me speechless.
The guy barely greeted us before saying: "I have this very nice hand lotion made out of bees wax. Would you like to try it?"
I gawped at him. Incredulous.
We were in the middle of nowhere (literally) and the guy wants to sell some hand lotion?
Hilarious!
He stepped out of his car and came toward us, hand lotion ready to test.
I tested it (very good actually) and had to buy it. Had to! Not only because it was very good and because I later found out that the guy was a beekeeper and struggled for existence (not a big market for honey and bees related products in the middle of nowhere!) but because I knew that I would never forget this hand lotion bought on the roadside of the middle of nowhere. (Apparently shopping is like karma to me. It follows me everywhere!)

PS: Some days later I was recounting this story to some friends of mine when one of them said: "I don't believe this. You traveled alone to some big cities like New York or Chicago, not being afraid, and now you're telling me that you were afraid of the middle of nowhere?" I am a city girl at heart, aren't I?

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Cagli

This is the village I was talking about:

view from my aunt's house

view from my aunt's house

Small Towns

I don't live in a big city like New York or Paris but I don't live in a small town either. Let's say that it's something in between. Sometimes I wish it were bigger and more "international" but then, especially when I've spent a couple of days in the small Italian town where my mother comes from, I am quite happy about my "in between city".
You wonder why?
Well, easy. Because when I move around here nobody notices me.

This isn't the case in the small town where I just spent a week in. There, live is totally different. There, everybody notices me. Not because I am a beauty or because I am particularly ugly or dressed in a crazy way. No. It's because I don't belong there. I am not one of them, so to speak.
It's a funny experience, believe me.

Like the day I was walking the streets with my aunt when she met a friend who greeted her with a "Ciao Iole". Me, all I got was a stare. Then she looked at my aunt and asked: "Who is she?" My aunt: "This is my nice." The old lady looked at me and then back at my aunt (we don't look similar at all and she is about 30 cm smaller than I am!) and then says: "I don't believe you!" Oh my, I HAD to laugh!
You should have seen some of the ladies' faces when I walked into my (male) cousin's grocery shop and he gave me a bear hug. Their eyes said "you bitch, what are you doing with Andrea? Don't you know that he has a fiancĂ©e?". If looks could kill, I wouldn't be writing this post. SMILE It's their grocer, you understand, they have to watch out for him (he is very good looking and charming - the ladies love him!). My cousin, knowing his customers and knowing his town, said (out loud, for even the deaf ladies to understand): Cousin, how nice to see you again! (the emphasis was clearly on the word cousin - you got that, right?). Their faces changed from hatred to curiosity and I am sure that the day after my cousin was asked plenty of questions about me :-)

I couldn't live there. Never ever. It's a beautiful old town, with friendly people (once you get to know them). But getting noticed all the time? Knowing who does what with whom? And who is related to whom? No thanks! I much prefer the anonymity of the place I live in!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

2014

HAPPY NEW YEAR TO EVERYBODY!

From the bottom of my heart I wish you

luck,
love,
happiness,
good health,
lots of travels,
adventures,
new encounters,
endurance,
mindfulness,
gratefulness,
happy shopping,
exciting times,
dreams (that come true),
many ideas (that will be realized),
and whatever you may think of!



PS: I've just come back from Italy yesterday. Once I have unpacked my bags, put away all the stuff, washed my clothes, bought some groceries (my fridge is empty!) I will think of all the things I did these last days - the shopping, the people I've met, the places I've visited and share them with you.