Tag Archives: gratitude

Florence, Day 18-19: Travel, the Great Teacher


Working in “my office” today

It’s not just the sheer joy of it; it’s the expansion inside you. The growth of knowing something different. Simply put, I have never met a seeker who sets out on a journey and ends up regretting that choice.

My sweetie arrived yesterday. I was so genuinely giddy to see him. Not that I minded my time alone; in fact, it’s something I have come to understand about myself, that I need and completely enjoy time by myself, but with someone fantastic, the sharing is oh-so-sweet as well. Catching up, sharing “my city” and what I’ve learned with my partner — what a gift. As I poured through my sketchbook with him, he commented, “It’s got to affect you — I mean, your work.” Yes, indeed, it has, and it will.

Today was also my last day of class. I guess I’m feeling reflective. Three weeks and three fantastic teachers later, I’m affected. And with little time to think of it, it’s now as I type that I ponder. Tonight is a great and simple example. We were both tired, my love and I. A city can wear you out. So I offered to go to the grocery store to pick up ingredients for dinner in. Walking the route to my grocery store was wonderfully simple and familiar. I’ve come to form an intimacy with this city. A slight peeling beyond the surface.

The sun was shining low in the sky and the shutters, tabernacles, frescos and architecture I passed along the way were fondly familiar. It occurred to me that it’s this becoming acquainted with the new, this change in culture and routine and way of working — that, that, is the best bit of going away. To be able to see your passion, your life and work in that new context is a gift. The gift of shaking it all up so you can rearrange things back in place on your terms with the backdrop of the new, the knowledge. Each journey in life both near and far is a teacher; it’s only our job to be good students. I hope I have been that.

I’ve certainly had great teachers. To Enrico, Bennedetta and Francesca, a deep bow of gratitude: You’re all wonderfully talented, and I have big respect for each of you. thank you!

To the city of Florence, you also are a teacher of all who seek to know you. I’m not leaving the city for several more days; I’m not done here. And I’m not yet ready to come home (no matter how much I miss my sweet pup). It’s off to clear my head in the mountains and the sea, reflect and watch where these new seeds will take me, with my partner by my side. The seeking and learning is not over, but to all the teachers who so generously give of their knowledge — in particular, my teachers on this particular journey — a deep, deep bow of appreciation!


The grand old king of cities, Florence

Switzerland, Part 4: Alpine Peaks and Mountain Lakes



Driving through the valleys that spread out from Lake Maggiore is, for me, one of life’s great thrills. It’s just so darn charming and breathtaking, a feast for the eyes. Today we would explore the Valle Maggia and and the valley it leads to, the Val Bovona.

swissafter19Once you turn into the Val Bovona, things get really interesting. You’re deep into the heart of a valley and the Alps are on the other side, playing peek-a-boo with their snow-capped summits. There are more picturesque little stone villages that don’t quite feel real, and I don’t tire of it one bit.

swissafter23Our destination is the end of the line in the town of San Carlo, and there we find a cable car that will take us way, way up. Ascending above 1,000 meters of altitude, the ride up to Robiei is an event in itself, offering impressive views of the U-shaped Basodino Glacier. The view seems straight up, as if you were standing at a nearly upright wall filled with deep crevices, magnificent waterfalls spilling over the surface. And then the snow caps appear all around you. Sigh … The Alps: there’s nothing quite like the majesty of being in their presence.

Once our feet hit the ground at Robiei, we headed left, facing the glacier, walking through a tunnel, until one of the area’s gorgeous lakes appeared. Lakes in the Alpine peaks? It just got even better!


swissafter22Today, we got a late start due to a leisurely morning, and soon it was time to run back to the cable car to catch the last one going down for the night. This was not a place we were prepared to get stranded. We made it. On the cable car down, staring out at the beauty, I caught my love’s eye and we both had that smile of disbelief on our faces. Are we really here? And isn’t it so exquisitely beautiful?

Returning down the Val Bovona, we could now — with no cable car to catch — take our time and explore the area, stopping to take photos and fill our water bottles from the town fountain with fresh, clean mountain water. It felt like a little reward for having taken the time to explore the area. (Well, the real reward was the visual feast, but the water was nice, too.)

swissafter21We stopped at the town of Forglio. Is this place real? Set at the base of a majestic waterfall, this charming village twists and turns up a stone path, affording more views of the surrounding brilliance.

swissafter20Upon returning back to the lake, instead of heading back to Locarno, we headed to neighboring Ascona, a fairy tale town of twisting cobbled streets and brightly painted buildings that spill into Lake Maggiore. Here we had dinner, basking in the glory of a truly remarkable day that seemed more out of a dream. To top all that off, my dinner of shrimp risotto almost made me fall off my chair. Deep, deep gratitude for all of the sensory pleasures of this day!