31 March 2009

Keep on keeping on...

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You can't stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.- Unknown

I think, therefore, I am, a bit crazy. It is part of my charm. Dealing with an economy we haven’t witnessed in our lifetime, I find myself trying to make it all work. No easy task. A constant quest…”What’s the next trend, the next angle mixed with “who cares” I want to hike and live in the country.” How do I integrate all those personalities to get to where I want to be and still feel alive? Taking a breath, my body on the board watching the horizon, I ask, “Can I stand up and ride?”

I know I am not alone. We are all jugglers. Suddenly, it occurs to me I have been here before, the waves crashing at my feet, taunting me. What choice do I have? I paddle, watching the waves, listening to the diverse voices blending with the surf. I am not going to wait for the perfect wave. I taste the salt and keep moving. Progress.

27 March 2009

"Only connect! " E.M. Forster

Wordle: spa


"Only connect! That was the whole of her sermon. Only connect the prose and the passion, and both will be exalted, and human love will be seen at its height. Live in fragments no longer. Only connect, and the beast and the monk, robbed of the isolation that is life to either, will die." E.M. Forster

Here's the thing. I work really hard and go for months, some time years working on completing a project. In that time, I am not aware of the separation of body and mind, the disconnection that results in being immersed in a process or a goal. I just work the process or the project at hand.

Age and the wisdom has taught me to pick up my head and look about. As a result, I spa and hike. I know spa is not a verb, per se, but if it was, I think the world would be a different, perhaps, a better place.

So having picked my head up and faced with one of those birthdays, I asked myself the question "Spa or hike?"

Since it was still cold and I only had a few days, the answer was easy. Spa.

I phoned my best friend and said "Pack your bag."

19 March 2009

This just in...Nightly News

If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly, our whole life would change.


Difficult times combined with terrible news—I add this quote as a hope that we can focus on the good and send that energy to those who need it. Live and laugh because tomorrow is not a guarantee. Look for the flower and smile.

17 March 2009

“I want to wear my sandals…” Goldie Hawn “Private Benjamin”

Ok, much to my dismay I walked about Rome in my hiking boots and pants while the fashion shows were going on just steps from my hotel in the Piazza del Popolo.

Gucci, Armani and every other very cool designer paraded past me. Here’s the really strange thing, me in my hiking pants and boots didn’t feel out of place. I had walked all over Rome, the Vatican, the Forum, the Palatine and walked back to this piazza just outside my hotel. Perhaps hunger and perspiration creates an aura, because I had amazing late lunches and really attractive models stopping by my table. It’s true—no, I don’t have pictures, but I am certain it had something to do with my footwear. It was so un-Italian, it had to be a trend and therefore, I was a magnet.

How delightful! Who knew that blisters could bring so much bliss?

So while I sipped my wine and practiced my Italian, I thought about shoes that were light and showed off the pedicure every woman has before she goes off on an adventure.

The next day, I was boarding a train to Florence, the place of buttery soft leather. I knew as I bantered, badly, that the best was yet to be.

15 March 2009

Beware the Ides of March

It’s intriguing as we move through life how time and memories can color our existence. While working on my next posts, I focused on the date and realized, “In another life, this day would mean something.”

Twenty-two years ago I married a man on his birthday, following a tradition in his family and ignoring the soothsayer’s words to Caesar. We were one of those couples that neighbors looked up to and like our married friends were moving along the continuum, the timeline of life. We were together for seven years and then suddenly, were not. It was not my choice and a very painful time in my life.

“Et tu, Brute?” was very much the emotion at the time. He assured me, “Don’t worry I am not interested in your 401k.” We were not wealthy people and his decision basically put me back at the starting line. Survival is a primal instinct that overrides most any emotion. I spent the next year in survival mode and won the battle but not, as far as I am concerned, the war. His first child was born one week after our divorce.

So if we are talking about regrets, then not having a child will be on the list. However, if we are talking about how far I have come and healed, then let’s focus on that fact that I didn’t have much feeling about the date. Truth be told, I am blessed with a man who loves me and have accomplished more in spite of the pain.

It’s just another day. A good day.

12 March 2009

A Place Different

"When I got to New Mexico, that was mine. As soon as I saw it, that was my country. I'd never seen anything like it before but it fitted to me exactly. It's something that's in the air. It's different. The sky is different. The stars are different. The wind is different. I shouldn't say too much about this, 'cause other people may get interested and I don't want them interested.”

Georgia O’Keefe (c.1977 PBS Documentary)

Georgia O'Keeffe in Abiquiu, New Mexico, photographed by Carl Van Vechten, 1950.

I don’t remember when I first saw or read this but I know I did, because around this time, I became fascinated with O’Keefe. Different was what I craved and understood. I read anything that was written about her, studied her art and wondered about this place called New Mexico.

I stared at the paintings at the Met and MOMA trying to understand the place and the images that exploded from O’Keefe’s canvases. Images composed using a modern chiaroscuro, light and dark, combining realism with abstraction.

It wasn’t the first time I heard about this amazing place.

D.H. Lawrence visited Mabel Dodge Luhan at Ghost Ranch and ended up owning a ranch some 20 miles north of Taos. While he spent less than a year in New Mexico, he said of that time,” I think New Mexico was the greatest experience I ever had from the outside world. It certainly changed me forever.”

Georgia O’Keefe spent nearly twenty years traveling back and forth from New York to New Mexico, until in the late forties after the death of her husband, Alfred Stieglitz, she came, at 42, to stay until she died at 98.

So twenty years later, after returning home from Italy, I established my first rule for an orderly re-entry back into reality.

Begin planning the next big adventure!

Something about the art, the antiquities, the culture and the landscape of Italy, a place firmly placed in my imagination but yet, so considerably different from the culture of America compelled me to pick up my books on O’Keefe and begin the a study of this place she called home.

The following is a link to the interview above:


Note : You will need to pause the music to hear Georgia speak.

Just listening to it makes me smile—let me know what you think!

05 March 2009

These boots are made for walking...

What I love about travel is the unknown. It is a perfect excuse to buy many books and read about the places never seen, plan and dream. I know, you are thinking, "What's the big deal? It's Italy."

In 1999, this was a big deal for me, a major step outside of the comfort zone and I was doing it on my own. In fact, many of my friends wondered if it was safe for me to be traveling in a foreign country and whether I was fit enough to 'hike'.

Go figure.

Here's a bit more nostalgia for you. My flight to Italy was not quite full and we were able to walk the length of the plane and remain standing if we wished. I even had a seat between me and a very chatty gent, who kept me from sleeping. Oh the luxury of traveling in coach with a few extra seats and the ability to stretch your legs!

When I arrived in Rome, I was sleep deprived but somehow, jazzed by the possibilities of the journey. On landing, I navigated through Fiumicino to the train that would take me to Termini Station. It was six am and there were a few people milling about, signs in Italian and I made it to the terminal without a hitch. That's when I noticed the ache in my feet. You see planning a trip involves devising a wardrobe that needed to travel for two weeks. I had shoes for walking and hiking. I was wearing what were to be my walking shoes which as I stood waiting for the train seemed two sizes too small.

Knowing that check-in at any hotel would be in the afternoon, I booked my room at the Hotel Locarno a night before so I could arrive and check-in early.(http://www.hotellocarno.com/inglese/monumenti/piazza_popolo.htm)

This is where experience pays off. What I learned as I stood waiting for the train, then for the taxi with all of the foreigners asking me for directions because they thought I was Italian and finally getting to the hotel at ten, with the manager looking at me as if I was crazy, there is no need to book a day ahead because they will just let you into your room. Luckily, this was pre-euro so my pocketbook suffered minor damage.

My feet really hurt as I followed him to the tiny elevator leading to my room which overlooked the intersection of the via del Corso, via del Babuino and via di Ripetta. I thanked him, closed the door and sat on a very little but comfortable bed. This was the first time I could survey my feet and really understand the problem.

Looking about the room, happy to be starting my journey, I proceeded to remove my lovely, not inexpensive walking shoes, and felt pain and horror, as the back of the heel on not one but both of my feet proceeded to leave my body and become one with my, now, very expensive walking shoes. Not a good start to a trip that included hiking many miles.

Tears in my eyes, I crawled into the little bed and thought of my really comfy shoes very far away in America. I woke up six hours later, the roman sun finding its way into my window, hungry and wondering just how I was going to walk about Rome, get to Florence and then hike through Tuscany.

Hunger always wins. The fact I was in Italy and the food was there waiting, gave me strength. I knew I could find a way. Here's another piece of nostalgia--moleskin. For years, hikers relied on this amazing skin/fabric to cover blisters. Given my research I had packed a first aid kit that today would have kept me at airport security for at least two days.

I set up triage, pulling out of my suitcase, scissors, antibiotics, ointments, pain killers, moleskin and my relatively new hiking boots. My immediate thought was if I was going to dinner there was no way I could put on my walking shoes. So after applying the moleskin to each heel, I proceeded to put each foot into my hiking boots not without pain but with the knowledge that really good food and Rome was outside my room.

Here's the most amazing thing--once I got my feet into those boots, I could walk not just to dinner,but for miles. I felt no pain and it wasn't because I had great pain killers, they were great boots. I had an amazing dinner and proceeded to walk Rome in my hiking pants and boots for the next four days surrounded by high heels and armani suits. It didn't manner because I was knew that I could explore Rome and Florence knowing that the following week I would be walking 6-14 miles each day in Tuscany.

My salomons walked the Via del corso, the Vatican and hiked another 200 miles before I had to retire them.

Salomon stopped making hiking boots about four years ago. On our first hiking trip together, I bought Mr. Jackson a pair and he called them, "Marshmallows for the feet." So true and so sad because we can't get them anymore.

03 March 2009

Take a Hike

People always ask me how I started hiking.

First, I was tired of sitting on the beach covered in layers, under an umbrella and constantly worrying if my 50 SPF was wearing off. On one of those perfect early summer days, a boy laughed at me, “By the time you get any color, it will be September.”

At the pool, the sight of my lily white legs brought gasps, causing parents to grab their children and reapply their sun-block.

I was always hot, but not in a manner to which I aspired. I was literally boiling under the layers covering my ‘simonized’ body. You see, despite having a bit of Italian and American Indian heritage, the English, French and whatever else, the genetic pool gave me really pale skin. After many beaches, most of the Caribbean and Florida, the reality is, “If I am very careful, I get beige.“

Then there was the thing about sitting still for hours on end, taking a break for lunch or cocktails but understanding the main focus is being 'one' with the sand, the chaise lounge and looking cool. It’s very difficult to look cool when you are being parboiled.

Swimming, as I learned from observing the really accomplished beautiful beach people, was only necessary when one became too warm and or perhaps, to get someone’s attention you ran to the sea and emerged like a god or goddess returning home from Atlantis.

I love to swim and am known to spend hours in the water---two problems, sun-block washes off and at 5’ 4” and well, being me, the image of running along the beach like Bo Derek or Cindy Crawford or Elle MacPherson was not happening.

So, here I was working hard to go on vacation, to sit under really well made beach towels from some very nice hotels, drinking very expensive cocktails, wondering, “WTF.”

Yes, I caught up on my reading, but somehow I always went home feeling, ‘eh’.

Lastly, I work in a very stressful and competitive male-oriented environment. Hence, the idea that beaches with balmy breezes and palm trees will rest the weary bones. Given the chronology of beauties running along the beach, you can see that I wrestled with this conundrum for many years. The reality was that I needed to get away and rid myself of the hoodoos of my work place.
It took some major life lessons and the approach of my fortieth birthday, to make me think.

I had never been to Europe, so I decided that even though the Italian part of me wasn’t enough to get a tan, I would spend two weeks in Italy. Learning from my experience on the beach and knowing that I was a freak for museums, art and architecture, I decided that one week would be spent in Rome and the next hiking through Tuscany so I wouldn’t be by myself ‘on the beach’.

So that’s how it began, one small step, many stories.

02 March 2009

“I’m in Love with a Wonderful Guy”

Mr. Jackson’s birthday is in the middle of January so I am always faced with Christmas and then what to do for his birthday. Well, this year was easy given we declared a moratorium on gifts—he, of course, ignored it, being the great guy that he is.

So for his birthday, I thought a night in Manhattan would be in order.

He agreed and advised me that he would love to see “South Pacific”.

'Really', I said thinking he was getting even for that really bad play I made him go to last spring. He smiled and started to sing a melody of “Bali Ha’i”, “Happy Talk” ending with “Some Enchanted Evening.” This is not the first time Mr. Jackson has broken out into song, but I have never heard any show tunes in his repertoire.

I was impressed and bought tickets for this past weekend. I half expected to sit through the play bored, rolling my eyes in the darkened theater at the quaint lil' musical, all in the name of love.

Well, I was so wrong. From the opening chorus to the final number when Emile de Becque returns from his mission to Nellie, I was captivated and reminded what good theater does and gives to its audience.

Needless to say, Mr. Jackson and I walked the eleven blocks to dinner singing and talking about the play.


Happy Birthday Sweetheart.

One small step

"The distance is nothing; it is only the first step that is difficult."
Madame Du Deffand

I’ve dusted off the trail shoes. Here’s the problem, it’s snowing…Isn’t it just like mama nature, a few warm, sunny days and then, she let’s you know who is boss. Bam! She’s sending us 8 to 12 inches. A nor’easter they say.

I’ve clocked four miles in the last two days. A start…one small step or too few steps given the weight and the bad cholesterol I need to lose. The test will be this morning when the white stuff is swirling about in the dark and I am in a nice warm bed next to Mr. Jackson. The shoes can call me but it is going to take a tremendous amount of will power to pull me out of the covers. Not even Max on his best day could convince me to get those feet a moving. Can I do it? Of course, I can. The question is do I want to? You all know the answer. No, no, no just like Amy Winehouse I don’t want to go but I will .

Stay tuned –stay warm. Looks like a real snow day is coming our way.


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