electing a new president and lessons learned.

In a matter of days our country will have elected a new President. Well, at least that is what is supposed to happen and with this election year, it is difficult to rely on “what is supposed to happen” as a guarantee.

I don’t know about you, but I’m tired. It’s not just this election that has made me weary, it’s the political discourse over the last many years in our country that has made me so. Do we not live in a country that values democracy? At its core, doesn’t that mean that we value the ideal that there are many ways to look at the world and that, ultimately, our goal is to work together despite our differences? I’ve had enough of this at each other’s throats, blame game nonsense and I’d rather see images of our President spontaneously jogging through the White House with his/her dog than making angry faces on TV.

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Here’s your moment of bliss, in this election season.

It seems that many of us are overwhelmed by it all and it is hard to escape. I was intrigued by a recent article in the LA Times. They went to “The Happiest Place on Earth” yes, Disneyland, to see how the election was affecting people. The idea was that
there, people would be a little more optimistic. What they found was interesting – even the happiest place on earth can’t squelch the madness.
A few weeks ago, I posted something on my Facebook page that got a good bit of response, not actually on my page, but in private conversations, texts, emails, messages. Time and again, people wanted to talk about what we can learn from all of this and how we can change ourselves and the world for the better.screen-shot-2016-11-01-at-11-01-40-am

Now while I’m not claiming to be the best at these things, I do think there are some things that we can learn  – and do better at in life. So here you go, just some simple thoughts about what we can learn from this election season…

  1. Learn to apologize – not an “If you were offended by…” or “If I made a mistake…” but a simple, “I’m sorry and I’ll try hard to do better next time.” It’s quite liberating really.
  1. Realize your best intentions may not be how others see it. You know the old saying, “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.” That.
  1. Someone else’s shortcomings are not an excuse for your own. Period. So, let’s put on our big kid pants and move on.
  1. Remember that simple lesson we learned in kindergarten? Wait your turn and don’t interrupt. If you must, stand there jumping up and down with your hand in the air, but please, for the love of Tina Turner, wait your turn.
  1. There are at least two sides to every story, as right as you think your story is. And its corollary, it’s very easy to take a side when you only know one of them. In a nut shell, educating ourselves on things we don’t know about is a good thing. Like the Dos Equis guy says, “stay thirsty* my friends.” *thirsty for knowledge, though a cold beer and good conversation makes for profound learning.
  1. If you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen. So, if you are in a debate about something, know your facts (verifiable ones, please). And along those lines,  how about we turn the burner down from boil to a nice simmer. I say we revive the days when people could sit and have civil discourse on, well, civics. Break out the School House Rock videos and make a party of it.
  1. Comparison is the thief of joy. I’ve realized this in parenting, but it is true in all arenas of life. Sure, you can compare apples to oranges, but isn’t it tastier to just make the dang fruit salad and enjoy it?
  1. As tragically humorous as some of this is and all the great punch lines for jokes and SNL skits it generates, this is real stuff that matters because it’s ultimately about people – not just us as individuals, but We the People (you remember that phrase, right?).
  1. Play well with others. In the end, we are all going to have to play well together or we will all be sitting on the bench during recess and that is no fun. [cue the pouty face.]

And perhaps the most important lesson of them all…

  1. If you loved someone before this whole thing started, you should still love them once it is all over. Don’t let your relationships be based on sound bites and Facebook posts (and do us all a favor – don’t let your vote be based on them either).

So, friends, there you have it. I would love to hear what you are learning…

 

 

 

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In my mind’s eye…

Y’all, I get grief from all sorts of people about having my phone with me almost everywhere I go. (Let’s be honest, I do have my limits so not EVERYWHERE, but we will leave it at that!) I love my iPhone. I’ll admit it. I have a sacred attachment to it. And it’s not for the reasons that you may think.  Yes, I like a regular social media fix and it is both a blessing and a curse to be able to check my email any time from anywhere, but that’s not why my iPhone is my trusted companion. I love my iPhone because it has the ability to be my mind’s eye.

Notice something online that I want to remember? Grab a screen shot. See something in a magazine I want to make note of? Snap a photo. That delicious meal that was plated so perfectly? Capture it before I devour it. I’ve read somewhere that iPhones are ruining our ability to remember on our own. That makes me giggle. I don’t need to blame a phone for that, I can take care of that just fine on my own thank you very much.

img_1946It’s more than all of that – and more than the 12,000 pictures I currently have on my phone (yep, you read that right) – though it has everything to do with memories.

Last summer while working to plant trees on a mountainside in Guatemala with AIR Guatemala, the wind began to blow and I was overwhelmed by the sound.  It was as if the trees erupted in magnificent applause. At the last second, I pulled out my phone and immediately hit “video record” without even knowing or caring what video was being captured – I simply yearned to remember the sound.

A child blowing out the candles on her birthday cake just yesterday has become a moment none of us will forget and, not only will we not forget, we can share that moment with others.img_0984

Or when I was out for a run and passed a honeysuckle bush and immediately thought of sitting on the back porch of my grandma’s house.  I knew that I needed to take a picture to keep that treasured memory alive.  I could go on, but I think you get the idea.

img_3954I know, I know. Feel free to roll your eyes. Feel free to remind me that sometimes the memory of something is enough. And I know all too well that a photo or video can’t truly capture the beauty of every moment. But there are times, times when my mind’s eye draws a blank and I remember that I have a back up.

So, if you see me pulling out my phone at times that seem odd or if you wonder what I’m attempting to photograph, just know that there is a moment that I desire to remember and that you just might be a part of it.

 

 

 

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The best ever Italian adventure…

There is no doubt, that you have been sitting there just waiting for this moment – the day that I finally share the best ever Italian adventure. Now, it has taken some time for me to get it together. Actually, I wrote every word in real time. Riding on trains. Waiting in lines. Contemplating in cathedrals. Noshing in restuarants. Collapsing in bed. But honestly, I needed a little down time between me and this adventure. Well, that and the fact that I totally lacked the band width to post on the move. Oh, and forgetting my blog password didn’t help, if I’m being really honest.

But now, without further ado, or excuses, I offer you Day One of the best ever Italian adventure, as it happened!

Italy Day One

The first lunch and the Last Supper

As of 10:30 pm

Nothing like a view of the Swiss Alps from above!

Nothing like a bird’s eye view of the Swiss Alps!

I’m off to meet my Daughter who has been living the high life in Europe for two months via her amazing college scholarship program. I figure that getting to meet her in Italy to travel for 9 days is my reward for all the morning sickness I had while pregnant with her. I’m doling this thing out, of course.  My plan to hopefully meet her in Spain next spring will be the reward for the stretch marks. The next trip will be for going into labor and the next for delivery and so on. Seems completely reasonable since that is how this whole scholarship possibility got started in the first place. I figure I’ll have traveled the world with her before we even get to weaning her from nursing. But seriously, she is one smart, hard working cookie and I’m lucky to get to join in on her adventures.

A balancing act of magnanimous proportions.

A balancing act of magnanimous proportions.

By the time I arrive in Milan, I’m too excited to be tired. I mean, I did just see the Swiss Alps up close and personal like from my plane window! We head out the door and begin to explore after a little lunch at a restaurant that I’m pretty sure was serving Stouffer’s meals from a microwave, but who cares? I’m looking at the Duomo!

And the Duomo. I’m only a little concerned that they allow people to walk on the roof. It is already supporting the weight of enough stone that some village somewhere is missing all of its mountains and now I’m up here? So I tell myself, “Just look. Don’t think.” Of course, that philosophy has led to all sorts of ill conceived events in the past, but I’m going for it.

And then, one of the things I came to Italy for (besides my child, duh) –

Santa Maria Delle Grazie ~ the unassuming home of the Last Supper

Santa Maria Delle Grazie ~ the unassuming home of the Last Supper

The Last Supper. It was fabulous. Bigger than I expected. More beautiful than I expected. And more moving than I expected. My daughter says that she is certain that I’ve never been more excited about seeing something in my whole life. And she just may be right. Perhaps the most iconic piece of art in all of Christianity and I’m. Standing. In. Front. Of. It.

Unequivocally thrilling. So glad I drug myself out of bed months ago at 3:45 in the morning to get tickets. And p.s. Am I the only one who, before researching it, thought it was hanging in a gilded frame behind a flocked rope in a museum somewhere rather than painted on a huge wall in a simple church? Come on, be honest.

Then we wandered; turning down whichever street looked promising. There were plenty from which to choose.  Fountains. Gelato. Parks. People. Gelato. It was perfection.
Getting fabulously lost in Milan.

Getting fabulously lost in Milan.

Now, I have a rule on vacation. It is better to sit down to eat before you get hungry. “Hangry” is a common emotion in our house and it is never pretty. Ever. So we set about finding a restaurant before the bewitching hour. After a non-stellar lunch, we were hoping for something better. Our first option sounded great and close by and they were giving 30% discount if you booked ahead on The Fork app (which is my favorite European travel app that I discovered last year in Paris) according to TripAdvisor. What could be better?

As we approached we heard the clanging of plates and the sound of friendly chatter. But when we arrived, they were closed (30% off of nothing is still a discount I presume). The dinner time banter was actually emanating from the second floor of an apartment building across the street. As I looked up smiled at them, the residents didn’t seem at all interested in feeding us. So, another swing around the block.

The reservation that wasn't. But theFork app is still my favorite European travel app!

The reservation that wasn’t.
But theFork app is still my favorite European travel app!

We found ourselves in that no man’s land between happy hour, which was going strong around us but a recipe for disaster for the potential jet lag facing me later, and the civilized dinner time of most Europeans. After resigning ourselves to a place called “OK pizza” (was there not a voice of reason in the naming process?), I gave Trip Advisor another look and came across an establishment that we had earlier discarded because it was listed as $$$, though it got rave reviews for delightful service and good food.  Delightful service can make up for mediocre food in my opinion.   And at that point I didn’t care what it cost. I was about to have two women on my hands with hangry issues, but yet who simply couldn’t bring themselves to eat at “OK pizza.” Even hunger has limits. The ethical conflict of it all.
But our dilemma was worth it once we sat down on a beautiful patio overflowing with Italian charm…and amazing food.
I had Eggplant parmesan which was as beautiful as it was tasty.  The server drizzled it with olive oil and fresh parm, “Because it is delicious!” he said and I didn’t argue. There were copious amounts of bread with olive oil that was to die for. For real, was there someone in the back pressing olives off a tree? The service was warm and energetic by the two young men who seemed to actually enjoy us being there. The tables filled up with Italians. Families and friends and even a dog (which really, Italian dogs get around and I would like to be one when I grow up). It was a sign of a good find.
At the end of our meal, a little jar of chocolates was placed on our table like it was our birthday. A business card for the restaurant was tucked into our dinner check and I asked for another as we left, which brought all sorts of excitement from the kitchen, but somehow I lost both of them along the way! I’ll keep searching and let you know.
We happily made our way back to the hotel and collapsed into bed with visions of gelato dancing in our heads. So, until tomorrow, arrivederci!