New Year; New Home

Life has been good to me. I’ve traveled some pretty fantastic places around the world, wound up in adventurous terrain, been lost in enchanting and exotic locations, and called many of those destinations home.

But the latest has been by far, the best. The most beautiful.

Check out my new living room/terrace view:

evenings

To the left, I can see where my husband goes to work, where kitesurfers soar over the waters on windy days. In the center, the glistening lights of a little town across the lake sparkle even more in the evenings, when our living room couch doubles as a bed and we can sit/lie and and sip wine together–how’s that for romance? And to the right, the lake continues on southward, traversing through valleys that lie below a cluster of snow-capped mountains, its waters winding through towns and foothills, rippling silently into the distance.

We are still settling in, figuring out where the kids will go to school, how we will continue life in this tiny town, and attempting to learn the language.  But it’s a good start, and a wonderful place to wake up to every morning. We even have a little garden that our tiny gardener has been keeping well-watered.

garten1I thought it was timely that we got the keys to our new house on the same week that I turned 33. The day after my birthday, we moved in, began a new journey as a family. Another chapter closed; a new one begun.

Who knows what the future has in store? Who knows what’s waiting out there? I don’t, just yet.

But I’m excited to find out. Thrilled that, in this beautiful place I’ve been brought to, I find inspiration to paint, being surrounded by my loved ones–my children, my husband, and my friends…even though most of our connections are online these days.

There is beauty everywhere, and I will continue to discover it, though here in Italy one doesn’t have to look very far.

terrace1

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The Great Thing About Travel, Change and Kids

ImageI’m eavesdropping on my son’s new class, hoping (and fretting) as any mother would, that he will adjust well.

But deep inside, I know it won’t be a problem. Because of our traveling lifestyle, our son has grown up a very friendly, outgoing child, with never any problems integrating into a new culture.

I was always amazed when in Italy, he would play with the neighborhood kids. They didn’t speak a word of each others’ language, yet they would enjoy playing on the street behind our house, or down by the lake for hours, and somehow understand each other.

That’s the beauty of being a child. When life changes the circumstances around you, you aren’t yet set in your habits, and can easily develop new ones.

The other day, as the taxi driver helped us unload groceries and bring them to our doorstep, my son spoke to him:

“Thanks, Manny,” he said aloud, “you’re quite busy today!” (He had asked him his name previously, during the ride home)

The small exchange between him and the taxi driver made me stop and think. Over the last few days, all I had associated the taxi drivers with was rip-off charges and speeding. And here was my three-year-old, contemplating the very busy day he had had.  

In the school room next door, I now overhear his teacher, introducing him to the class, who are all a year older: “This is your new classmate, be nice to him because he’s just a baby.”

“I’m not a baby, I’m a big boy,” he corrects her loudly.

I smile to myself; I have nothing to be anxious about. Integration comes naturally to this three-year-old. I hope he carries that confidence with him for the rest of his life.

Lago di Como
Italy, 2012. My son on the right side of the merry-go-around, with the blue sunhat.

My Girl

Scanning blank pages on this new morning. White space to fill—not mine, but my daughter’s. This new life which has yet to be lived; days and milestones yet to be celebrated.

Moments yet to be realized and treasured.

A brand new start, for something that hasn’t existed yet. How do you capture innocence? How do you celebrate life so pure, so angelic, so vulnerable?

SAMSUNG

We begin a new journey together, my love. And as we do, I hold your hand, but hope to not hold you back.

Life is for learning, exploring, making mistakes, and trying again.

Life is for love, and loss, and living again.

You must write in the pages of your own book—I can guide you, but not write them for you. You will learn with time, grow with the moments; intuition will guide you, and love will always bring you back home.

You were born into a family of travelers, wanderers, explorers, adventures. We will give you the experiences which will be yours to keep, the boat to set sail and launch out to new horizons. But what you find there and where you decide to anchor will be up to you and your choices.

I can hold you and nurture you only for a little while. I can be your strength just a few years.

When you finally go out on your own, when you finally know what it means to follow your heart, I trust that you will hear it beating in all the right directions.

I trust you will find your way.

Just as you found your way to us.

alexandra

Alexandra, born March 1, 2013

Goodbye, Summer–Hello, Sweet Surprises!

The sun rises a little later on this cool September day. just past 8, I wash up and throw on a pullover, then nip across the street to the local Café, where my daily creamy cappuccino is served—along with free WiFi.

But today, its window shutters are down and the Café is closed, quiet and empty. I hadn’t seen the door sign yesterday, that they would be closed once a week now—now that the busy summer is over.

In Europe, where the change of seasons mean a constant transformation of environment, experiences, moods and weather, I’m reminded how fast time flies, and how little of it I manage to fill.

Meandering in Menaggio

This year’s summer season on Lake Como was a beautiful one, tucked between the Alpine mountains that tower over its waters. Now, those peaks are tipped with the first snowfall, and while sunbeams down here are still fairly warm, those white caps crown our tiny village, reminding us that an icy winter is coming.

So we have more travel plans next month, and the month after—crossing countries, continents, and resuming new adventures, where summer never sets. We are dictated by the wind. Here, on the tranquil lake, I did mostly house chore duties, looked after my boys, and enjoyed the open space which lent inspiration to paint and create in a different way.

Bellagio stroll in August
Fun with friends in Gera Lario, North of the lake

Now, I am looking forward to getting back to work—even if it means the bustle of the city, with its vibrations of people, chaos and crowds. I do miss the stimulation, the nightlife and somehow, a bit of the speed. And so, I welcome the shifting winds.

And, I’ve enjoyed every day here in this magical place—the people I have encountered, the time that passed. It brought me lasting memories, and many gifts. And now, I keep a small, three-inch secret tucked away.

…Can you guess what I’ve got?

Notes on Trading Security for Freedom

Being in the right place at the right time has nothing to do with luck.

I believe it’s all about the choices you made getting there which allowed you to be in that moment, to experience that miracle.

Getting together with another traveler is one decision I made that I don’t regret. But staying married at the cost of a literal lifetime journey, and raising a child through multiple countries and contrasting cultures in every continent has its challenges.

Last year, I left a well-paid job in the city to come out here to Lake Como and live in one of the most beautiful places on Earth. I miss my nanny, my friends back home, my chicken adobo, soya sauce and rice. I miss my regular paychecks and that feeling of security.

But in place of that, I get to sit on this amazing lake and paint, and teach my son the importance of a global perspective, openness and acceptance of other people, nurturing relationships and embracing new experiences.

At two years old, he learns to not be tied down to any one set of regulations, or become stuck in a rut. We are constantly packing our bags for the next destination, letting go of things and physical attachments, saying our goodbyes, and—always—following the wind.

When this season is over, we will journey again…it’s not quite clear yet where that might be, and sometimes I get a bit anxious thinking about the future.

And then, I choose to just live in the happiness of today.

Because that’s what makes travel so magical: you don’t know what’s round the next corner, the next bend, or at the end of the tunnel. You’re not following a pre-programmed GPS device.

Choose your reality by taking risks, even if it means sometimes changing course. And when you let life surprise you, it usually does.