Patterns

Have you ever taken the time to look for patterns in your life? You know what I mean. We all do things by habitually and the reality is, sometimes you don’t notice the patterns unless you write about them on a blog. When I’ve gone back and looked at posts from SingleSassy.com, my old dating blog, I’ve noticed a downward spiral in my mood sometime in early January each year. This is definitely due to the weather, the lack of natural sunlight, the depreciation of vitamin D, and anything else that is negatively related to the New England winter. Because I’ve noticed these trends, I’ve worked really hard to try to battle some of these challenges that I face year after year. 

A few years ago, I went to visit my parents in March, who were staying in Florida, and I was ready to pack my bags and move there after a few days of sun and relaxation. But a few hours after I landed back in Boston, I called my mom and said that I did not want to leave my home. As much as I enjoyed being in the sun, I didn’t want to leave my life back in Boston. But it was good for me to have a short break and to get some sunshine. This winter and spring are very busy at work. Unfortunately, because of the timing of our annual gala, I am not able to go visit my parents in Florida. So this afternoon, after spending a significant amount of time looking for good prices, I booked an excursion to the happiest place on earth…for me… Rome, Italy!

Listen, I got an amazing deal, but it isn’t as if I’m rolling in the dough. I rationalized booking this trip as an investment in my mental health. I think I may have written in an earlier post that I said to a few people in the last six months, that I truly believe that if I keep going the way I am in my life that I will die young from a heart attack or stress. I don’t want that to happen. So I am really trying to be more mindful and take care of myself. I’ve chosen a line of work that doesn’t allow for any moment of pause or relaxation when you’re in the throes of it, so it’s up to me to carve out time where I can focus on the things that I love. And for me, since 1996, the one thing that gives me absolute joy is spending time in Rome. Throw in a Caravaggio painting or sculpture by Bernini, and I’m in heaven.

But, really, it doesn’t matter what I’m doing. I can be sitting on the stoop in a random Piazza. Or, I can grab a piece of pizza at a local Italian bar. Or, I can be sipping espresso while watching people walk by. It doesn’t really matter. The pure joy of being in Rome is enough.

When I was in Rome earlier this year, I felt no depression or anxiety. I just walked and walked and walked throughout the city, and enjoyed every moment.

Is it April yet?

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Photos from Europe, September 2016

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Espresso and Croissant at Paris Airport
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View from Barcelona apartment
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Positano, Italy
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Shoemaker in Sorrento, Italy
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Amalfi Coast, Italy
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Jimmy Choo window display in Rome
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Henri Matisse painted from the balcony above in Nice.
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View from Casa Batllo, Gaudi in Barcelona

Europe: September 2013

Oh, where do I begin?

The last time I wrote, I was embarking on a journey to Europe and was sipping on a cup of espresso in France, waiting for my connecting flight to Barcelona.

I’m going to share the tale of my adventures in Europe through words and pictures. The words are excerpts from emails I sent to my family and friends while abroad. I think it does a good job of capturing my feelings at those very moments.

Paris, September 9: Email to mom

img_5798Chilling at airport in Paris.  My flight doesn’t leave for 3 hours – slight delay – so having an espresso & croissant.  And yes, I could taste the butter!

I don’t think it has officially sunk in yet that I’m in Europe!  Looking forward to a nice shower tho!

 

 

 

Barcelona, September 9 (later that day): Email to parents and brother

IMG_5845.JPGAt my “apartment” that I rented for a couple days. It is really nice!

And the most random thing happened at the Paris airport. I was chatting with a girl from New York online – – she randomly got online behind me – – and we got to talking and it turns out that she is from Lincroft and went to Middletown South!   She is 32 so we wouldn’t of known each other, but we thought it was really funny that we had to go all the way to Paris to meet someone from the same hometown.

I am going to shower and get some food and rest. Today is my reading  day.  Will hit the town tomorrow!

 

Rome, September 14: Email to close friends and family
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Greetings from my happy place – Rome. I haven’t felt this content and at peace in years.  The people in my cruise group are fabulous & I’ve  made a lot of friends.

You guys are going to laugh but the first night, I got propositioned by a 67 year old man from north Carolina.  Yes, “propositioned.” Everyone keeps making fun of me for it!  No, I did not accept the offer.  He said “no strings attached.” He could be my father!

Yesterday we spent the day in Positano, Sorrento and Pompeii.  Since I’d seen Pompeii before, I sat and had a coffee with an 85-year-old man from my group.  I hope I’m on a European cruise when I’m his age!  He is an attorney – still working – and we talked politics (he’s a republican for Hillary), socialized medicine, you name it. The tour guide gave me a big kiss for taking care of John.  I enjoyed it!IMG_5888.JPG

Today I’m wandering Rome.  I walked my 10,000 steps in 2 hours!  Now I’m relaxing at a cafe near Piazza del Popolo on my way to St. Peter’s.

Tomorrow I’m going with the group to Pisa and Florence.  I haven’t been to Florence in a long time so it’ll be nice to see it again & experience it through my new friends’ eyes – many of the people in my group have never been.

After Italy we head to southern France.  I booked a trip to Nice & Eze upon the recommendation of my colleague.  Then onto Marseille and back to Barcelona.  Now I’ll have people to hang out with in Barcelona.

Somehow I got a free drink package on the cruise so I’ve been enjoying a lot of free wine!  There is a Cirque de Soleil tent on the ship so a group of us plan to do that one night.

That’s pretty much it.  Off to stroll some more!  Ciao.

 

Cannes, September 16: Email to close friends and family

Hello from France.  Traveled from port in Cannes to Nice & Eze today.

In the last few days I’ve walked about 30  miles!  Not looking forward to sitting behind a desk again. Ate a crepe with Nutella today.  Ok…maybe 2 of them 😄

 

Marseilles, September 17: Email to college friend Jen after spending the day with her longtime pen pal, Lucille

IMG_6120.JPGIt’s like we’ve known each other for years!!  I think Lucille & I both know you so well.  I filled her in on your life!
Lucille, please come visit us.

 

Barcelona, September 18: Email to mom

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Sad to come home (followed by many sad-face emoticons)

 

Pitstop in Paris

Well, who would have guessed that I’d be hanging out in the Paris airport for a few hours today?  I’m transferring to Barcelona from here, and my flight is a bit delayed. Thank goodness I found some wifi and a place to charge my phone. It doesn’t take much, really.

Truthfully, what I really need is sleep….and a shower.  Really hoping that my “48-hour” deodorant is kicking in about now. But hey.  I’m in France. It’s all relative really.  See you soon!

European Vacation

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I’ll admit it. It’s been really hard watching all of my friends go on vacation this summer while I worked long hours. But what kept me going was my “eyes on the prize” or the cherry on top: my upcoming trip to Europe. As a self-described Europhile, I love going overseas to Europe, namely Italy, France, & Spain. As luck would have it, a company called Vacations-to-Go was offering a reasonably priced fall cruise – and the bonus is that I was able to get a single cabin without paying extra. While I’m writing this post, I should be packing, but I’ve got my list ready to go! See you when I get back.

Debt-Free Roma

i-can-t-keep-calm-because-i-love-romeAs I just said to my friend in email, “This is really happening!”  Because of some consulting work I’ve been doing that put a few extra bucks in my pocket, I had some vacation money to spend on a fall trip to Europe.  I’ve paid for my Mediterannean cruise, and now my plane tickets to Barcelona are booked!  All paid in cash – no credit!  No turning back now.

Yes, yes, I’ve been to Europe many times yet it’s still so incredibly special when a trip is booked.  I like to do them in advance so I can pay for the flight, hotels, etc off over time and have plenty of time to savor the “before a vacation” joy and excitement!  I’m especially proud to be paying off the trip in full via cash, which wasn’t always the case with past vacations.  Debt-free vacations from now on!

The best part of this trip is that I will be spending several days in Italy.  Florence, Rome, and Naples are all part of the itinerary.  Italy is my happy place.  I feel at home there – I lived in Rome in 1996 & it’s never left my heart.

Here, here to relishing the longing for the trip!

Amtrak

6904444852_209dd55d64It’s Thursday, and Passover begins tomorrow evening.  It’s our family tradition.  My brother and I travel to my parent’s place in NJ, and we gather about 25 friends & family for our abbreviated seder.

I’m taking the train.  I was planning on driving, but I was getting very drowsy on the road this week after working many hours, many days in preparation for our big gala at work (broke records, by the way!).  So happy to have this option.  I’m listening to music/podcasts, responding to work emails, and – most importantly – not worrying if I doze off.

Worth every penny.