Bites of Inspiration

   

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In Italy, food is transformative.  It moves from simple nutrition to becoming the essence of life itself.   During our Beautiful Truth Retreat, we had the chance to  cook with one of my most lovely friends, Carla, who, together with her husband has one of the most lovely restaurants here in Acqui Terme. She taught us so much, she made us laugh, and gifted us moments we'll never forget.

 

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There are more beautiful bites this week:

I am honored to be featured as part of a free interview series called Inspiration Bites, the brain child of the wonderful life coach Alison Ottaway.  The series is completely free, you just need to go and sign up.  There will be an interview recording from international life and change experts every day for two weeks, Monday through Friday.    It starts tomorrow, so don't delay!

your creative calling: what would you do if you weren't worried about being judged?

pursue some path

 

Your idea is your capital.

I don't mean that in strictly a financial sense (although, yeah, that too..).  I'm talking about the capital on which you can focus your energy and open doors to your authentic path.  Your idea is your soul capital. 

Coming to your specific idea of how you would like your future to look professionally and personally feels really complicated and fraught with obstacles.  We don't just block the idea;  we block the manifestation of the idea.

No money.

No time.

Too many other commitments.

I'm not selfish enough to want to live my own idea. 

My partner won't agree.

My friends/family will think I'm crazy.

I won't be able to do it perfectly. I'm not so good at it. 

Look, here's the bottom line.  You  have no idea what will happen if you manifest your ideas and call the forth.  You can't know the lessons that you will learn, the people you will attract, alienate, piss off or laugh with, you have no idea what kind of personal development is in store for you.

You don't know how it will go.

So if you judge your idea as not worth pursuing before you even explore it fully, you've closed the door.  Locked it.  Thrown away the key.  Is that what you want?

It really doesn't have to be that complicated if we lay to the side our self doubts.  And if we stop judging how we're going to be judged for going after our idea.

Often we don't manifest ideas into action because of judgment.  Not strictly the fear of how others will think about us, but the fear of how we will react to people judging us.  Our judgment of judgment.  What we think of what people think of us.

Because judgment will always be there.

It's what we do with judgment that will determine our path.

It's that inner voice that keeps us locked in place, that convinces us the risks are too great, we aren't that good, we don't have a chance, we won't follow through, we just shouldn't bother.

We need to shut her up, that inner voice, because she's so busy judging the judgment of others that she couldn't care less about our authentic selves.

We are the shamans of our own energy, the creators of our own light.  We ourselves determine the doors that open for us.

How do we start?  How can we open our hearts and minds to our best idea?

Enter Wendi Knox.  

Wendi is a magical doctor/artist of authenticity, a magnetic energy medium, a colorful, authentic beauty who has reinvented not only her path, but the paths of women everywhere.   Here's what she has to say about this very subject.

 

I'm working with several women on bringing their idea to cohesive fruition.  I am absolutely and whole heartedly committed to this work.  Do you have an idea you'd like to develop but don't quite know where to start?  I'm here to help you do your best work.  

I cannot believe that Di Mackey and my  Your Beautiful Truth Retreat is less than three weeks away!  Energy will be flying on our little hill in the Italian country side.

And last but not least, I'm scheming with my beautiful friend Barrie Davenport on a new course and on-line workshop about this very subject - calling forth your creative idea and manifesting it into your work.  The launch will be spring 2014.

So now it's over to you:

What would you do if you weren't worried about being judged?  What is your idea?  If you felt free from your inner Edna, as Wendi calls her, what would you do?

 

creative release

porcelain pot
porcelain pot
I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it  - Pablo PicassoI've been screaming inside.

For calm,  for a rock on the head,  for anything to move me out of a sense of superficial frantic activity coupled with spiritual and creative inertia.

I know something new is coming out of a sense of WE. 

It started two weeks ago with a 20 pound block of porcelain clay, a clay I never worked with.  I cleaned my studio and opened the sack - and started to work with it.  At first - frustration.  Turned to anger- almost tears. Because it was different than anything I ever did before with clay. And my ego was such that I thought I could work with porcelain without even thinking about it.  Ten pieces ended up on a blob on the middle of my work table before I really thought about what the problem was.  The problem was how I as approaching the process. I stopped - worked my way through the complexity of my own reaction. And started again.

"Have fun with it," I said to myself.  "Stop taking this so seriously."

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porcelain 6
porcelain 4
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porcelain2

These pieces are different than anything I've ever made. I posted a couple of shots on Facebook and the reaction was immediate.  People reacted to these raw, just thrown forms straight from their emotional center.  That reaction broke loose something inside of me that made me want to create.  Sculpt. Write.  Bring my work to the next level - and share all of it with you.

Gather your thoughts.

Look at how you live. Your sense of self expands into all that you touch.  Loving that with which you are surrounded will expand your capacity to grow.  Your life is yours to curate and manifest.  The more you dream about what can be, the more you are able to call those dreams forth into your daily life and try new things that can bring you joy.  The Universe will put things in your path to help the trip. But you have to put in the work.  You have to try what you don't know, what you're not sure of.  You have to be willing to be bad at it before you get good at it, and bless the bad stuff as being a beautiful part of the process.

The Universe will give you a green light and let you walk across your own path.  

 

let go of suffering

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 What's making you suffer right now?

 

 

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Is it your situation?  Or is it your narrative?

Because your situation might be what it is because of the narrative you're telling yourself.  And that might be what's causing you to suffer.

Suffering, unless you have a serious or life threatening illness, is mostly self induced.  I know it hurts to hear this.  It hurts me particularly this week because I have been doing some pretty intense suffering of my own, but if I am completely honest here, I brought a lot of it on myself. Ok. No.  I brought it all on myself.  I have a million good excuses that I could roll out right here  and now for having put myself through some pretty tortuous mental gymnastics that have gotten me absolutely nowhere except sleepless.

But instead of beating myself up about it, I'm dissecting it - and turning it around. What if the situation that I was in was happening to my best friend instead of to me?  How would I react then? I know exactly what I would do.

I'd tell her that objectively speaking, her situation is just not that bad.  That there are a lot of people who would just love to be in her position, even though it's stressful right now.  And that she's got the strength and ability to change things up and make herself feel better.  That she's strong.  That she's got a lion's heart and that she is courageous.  Then I decided it's time to be my own best friend. Because those are the things I need to hear right now about myself.  That I have the power to change the things that are not working about my own situation.

This doesn't just work for me, by the way.  I'm not the only one holding on to things that hurt me.  What about you?  What can you let go of today that is going to help you change your narrative about your situation?

Let go of trying to be perfect.  You know this.  I don't have to repeat it.  Do I?

Let go of judging people.  Even the ones you think you know especially well.  Don't judge anyone.  Everyone has the chance to learn new things, to change and to grow and be different than how you perceive him or her to be.

Let go of thinking you can't change.  What you believed yesterday or ten years ago might not hold water any more.  Shed the ideas and notions you have that no longer work.

Let go of resisting. When resistance comes to visit, know that you feel it the most when you need it the least.

Let go of the past. The past counts, but not nearly as much as you think.  And it does not in any way predict what you're capable of in the future.

Let go of trying to be fabulous at the things you suck at.   <- click to tweet  If you blast through life riding the tide of your strengths, you will have a blast.  If you struggle through life trying to be masterfully good at things you don't like doing, you will suffer - and that is completely self induced suffering.  Don't like accounting?  Get an accountant. Let her explain what you need to know, and let her do her job.

Let go of telling yourself you don't need any help. 

Let go of believing that other people are making you miserable.    You can feel anything you want.  Just know that your feeling world is about you and not about anyone making you feel anything.  It can also be divorced from reality - feelings often are.  If you are feeling sad and anxious, it's very likely got more to do with your perception of your situation than the situation itself.

Let go of haters.  

Let go of the idea that past traumas keep us from moving forward.  Our stories effect who we are.  But the upshot of this is that these stories, however they happened to us and worked through us, are there to help us understand ourselves.  When something moves us, it's like a crack appears, and through that crack glows a warm light, and that light propels us forward into a new understanding. Let your past move you forward.  Your stories are your wisdom.

What do you want to let go of today that would make your life joyful?  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

love is intentional

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deb digs

 

 

When you move forward with your energy, you are filling the space with intention.  Intention works like ripples of you that move things.  When things go in another direction than you thought they should, it's because they need to do exactly what they're doing. You'll learn something other than you thought you would.  But it's your intention, the push behind the movement, that moves you to where you need to be, regardless of the outcome.

Which is why the best intention of all is love.

When you fill your space with the intention of love, then you become the loving force yourself.  Expansive.  Forgiving. Strong and yielding, wise yet always the student.   When your intention from the outset is love, you  pour that into all of your interactions.

Isn't that nice?

Just think of it from the other side.  Suppose all the people you know, even the ones who have a disagreement with you, put forward the intention of love when they spoke and interacted with you.  How would that make you feel?    Cared about?  Joyous?

 Maybe a little buoyant?

Putting forward an intention that promotes buoyancy of the human spirit.  Now, there's a concept we can get behind, right?

We can change the world with intention, one loving interaction at a time.  We don't have to think badly of each other, even when we don't agree.  We don't have to sit in a corner of hurt over unintentional slights, or even intentional ones.

We can choose differently.  We can react with a deep, caring love that reaches beyond the hurt.  We can't be everything to everyone, but we can sure be loving towards everyone.  Even people who don't make it easy.  We can love them too.

Be generous with your "I love you"s.  Don't be scared it won't come back to you.  The more you put out there, the more it will come back to you, in abundance, with multitude.

Give the gift of buoyancy today.

Intend love.

 

 

the lion's heart of a graceful giver

Mocha

I want to tell you about my friend Jane.

Art is an amazing communicative tool.  It bridges people from all sorts of diverse lifestyles and mentalities, and gives them common ground.  In the hands of my friend Jane Barefoot Rochelle, it's so much more.

First, there's what she creates.  She takes things from your life - photos, words, ticket stubs and turns them, through the art of collage, into a meaningful, dynamically powerful piece of art for your home.  The more you look at her collages, the more you see.  Layers.  Just like the layers of time, some of them onion-skin thin, over other layers of time, all balanced to create, with incredible clarity, an image.  The image is simple and complex, and stands as the unifying message for all of the layers.

This is soul art.  Of the highest form.

Jane grew up in a loving family.  Her parents, having grown up themselves in poverty, were resourceful at repurposing everything they had, and provided her with a wonderful childhood.  Her playground was the woods where she wandered and dreamed with her siblings. She always felt the call of the creative arts. Jane became a teacher of children, and was deeply effected when she saw young spirits being crushed by careless remarks and  blanket dismissal of creativity.  While she never had formal art education, her path led her to several mentors. Jonas Gerard, Brenda Seright WilliamsStuart Cubley, and then finally to the creative collagist Elizabeth St. Hilaire Nelson - each experience and teacher giving Jane a new layer to the creative work she had set out to do from the day she was born.

Jane and I had often exchanged emails and thoughts.  She is a certified  Healing Touch practitioner.  I love her energy, her spirit.  But there's something more about Jane.  When it comes to giving love to other people, she has a lion's heart.  And when she puts her creative energy, her love and her giving nature in a chosen direction, she creates magic.

Like what she did with my Max here.  This collage brings me joy every single day.  

When I think of my own journey, and the people that have crossed my path, I am constantly reminded of the givers.  The people who give their time, their thoughtfulness, their energy to others.  The ones who serve.  The kind of person that takes your breath away.  Jane is one of those people.  I remember my Healing Touch Session with her. It was during my season, and we communicated about it via email.  I was tired, anxious and overworked.  But I laid down on the sofa, as Jane had instructed me to do, and with a very short time I was in an alpha state.  I received a very clear voice message, sung by a distant choir.

You and I must make each night a prayer.

Every day a beginning.

 

I came back into the room about a half hour later from this semi-dream state feeling clear.  I didn't completely understand what happened, but then again,  I decided I didn't have to.  I had put myself in Jane's hands, thousands of miles away, and had felt reassured and calm.

Jane reminds me, with her gentle presence in my life, that giving is the most exciting, important thing we can do in life.  Be Santa's elf.  Be the one who buys a cup of coffee for the person next to you in the cafe.

Be that person.

Be the good in someone's encounter with you.  Assume they can use the kindness and will pass it on in their own way.  Don't be a cynic.  It's just better that way.

Jane's moving on and deepening her artistic journey.  Her next step is to open an art gallery, Barefoot Studios, for all the people she knows that create beautiful things and have the souls of givers. The opening is only a few weeks away.  I know she'll be amazing at it.  She's got that lion's heart.

 

Contact Jane at her website and have her turn your journey, your memories, and your dreams into a piece of art to treasure forever.  

 

create. here's why you should do it.

a heart on a wall in Genova.  taken during an amazing photography course with Camera Journeys 

 

You need to create. 

Do it for all the ones who came before and couldn't because their lives were tied up in keeping children warm and fed .

Do it for the times your heart bled with pain from being misunderstood and powerless.

Do it as a prayer, or as an answer to your own prayers.

Do it because by doing it you can never be a small person.  Creating expands you.

Do it because you'll get feedback, and feedback will make you better.

Do it so you see how hard it is.  You'll never judge anyone again.

Do it so that those who've judged you can see how wrong they are.

Do it so the ones who love you unconditionally can see how right they are.

Do it because in doing it there's honor and justice and just the process of doing it makes the world a better, more wholesome, more healing place.

Do it because if you don't, it will never get done no matter how many times people tell you there's nothing new in this world.

Do it because people will see who you really are.  Your truth shines through in your art more than it does in anything else.

Do it because you might inspire another.  You might mentor  a broken heart with words, soothe a broken spirit with painting, give a broken life a reason to try once more.   You have the power to do that.

Do it because putting yourself on the line and letting the chips fall speaks volumes to your character as a human being on this planet.

Do it because doing it makes you vulnerable and whole and accepting of the efforts and foibles of others.

Do it to make yourself happy.

Do it because creating is energy, and energy begets energy and energy is the Eternal Spirit.

Do it because by not doing it, you are not honoring your true purpose.

Do it because, well, just do it and find out your own reasons to add to this list.

 

What I'm creating:

I got my Etsy shop up and running.  (I hate that things cost so much to ship to the USA.)

I'm grateful as can be to Lori at Tiny Buddha for allowing me to guest post on her beautiful blog... and I welcome all the new readers that have come here as a result, have bought my ebook Your Truth (now at a reduced price of 2.99!!), and have commented.

I'm loving Tammy Strobel's wonderful audio blog about my book, True Vines, and  Karol Gajda's new app project - it's all about gratitude and love.

I also feel very grateful for all the amazing reviews I have gotten on AmazonBarnes and Noble and Goodreads about True Vines.  Watching this book take flight is amazing.  I'm planning my postponed trip to the states to indie bookstores - I'll be heading out at the end of February, and hope to meet some of you in person.

I'm working hard on my Mentoring program for 2013.  I've received many requests for coaching and mentor services for the upcoming year and I'll be sending out information in  January.

We're preparing for visitors during the holiday season and looking forward to long evenings chatting, eating and drinking wine in front of the woodburning stove.

I'm awaiting the winter solstice of 2012 with a full and grateful heart.  Thank you, my friends.  Your love has helped make the year a very special one for me.

 

 

 

women's stories: the heart of wisdom

We women know stories.  

Stories that hum in our minds as our days pass in a myriad of tasks and chores.  Stories that fall into each other like cascading water into the next lower pool. Sometimes they seem they'll all converge and erupt into our consciousness and show on our faces and in our mannerisms. We think, what is this?  Is this hurt?  Wisdom?  Fear?  Why do I feel like everyone can see these things when all they see is me smiling and trying to keep the peace in some form or another?  We look for the bigger meanings, and sometimes there are none to be found so we just put the stories aside and keep moving.  Dishes get washed.  Bills get paid, children get taught, staffs get directed.  We stretch our necks and tired backs at the end of the day to release something  - a sigh.

Women sigh.  Alot. We sigh with satisfaction, with resignation, with exhaustion.  But when we lay our heads down at the end of the day, they're still there.  The stories.  Cascading.  Moving.

Beckoning.

Our hurts.  Our fears.  Our knowledge and experiences.  Our interior lives - the part we live as observers of our own fate, our own decisions.  If we get around other women who give us emotional permission to share, the stories come out, gushing at first, slowing to a comfortable flow after a while, and our stories intertwine with those of women who have gone before, or have come after, creating yet another tapestry of awareness,individuality, and hope.

Women do this naturally, if we allow ourselves.  If we can trust that the stories will be honored.  If we know we won't be cut off or thought of as too intense or demanding. Because often, as soon as we sense that we are being too demanding by asking to be heard, we make ourselves small so as not to be a bother. We give other people's perceived discomfort with who we really are a higher importance level than being on the level with our own truth.

We need to first tell our stories to people that we trust, and who are capable of sharing their stories with us as well. With practice, we can own our truth, and there is no reason, ever again, to make ourselves small.

 Women's stories are at the heart of the hearth.  We are the sisters, the partners, the mothers, the daughters.  We absorb all of what is around us. We process change so that those around us can be more comfortable.  We worry about the people we love and those people become part of our story.  Our stories, our mothers' stories, our aunts' stories - these are the fiber that support creation.  The stories give us hope; they make us brave. They let us know that those who have gone before have suffered and sacrificed so we can have the enviable task of passing wisdom on to the next in line.

The stories are about wisdom.  

As a writer, I am magnetically drawn to other women's stories.  They resonate with me and often reaffirm what I already know to be true, even if I may want to resist my own truth.  I rarely find other women's stories too much to handle.  Rather, I find myself in stories of trauma and growth.  Because there is joy there, right along side the hurt.  There is happiness to be lived on the moments of pain.

As I research and refine my change mentoring practice for spring 2013,  I am finding the wisdom I need from the most bountiful source - other women.  In talking out what I see I can do for others, I see what resonates with women I respect, giving me clues to the framework I will use.  There is honor in exchange, in placing your story in the hands of another woman and saying, "Here.  Please look at this.  Tell me what you see."

There is great power in femininity.  But we should claim it, step into it, refuse to make ourselves small because of it.  Because our stories are for the ones that come after us.  It's those women that owe our stories to; the world is a place in need of wisdom passed down through the generations.

 

What I've been doing  

I took a weekend photography and video workshop with Camera Journeys in the Italian port city of Genoa.  I'll be sharing new work and talking in detail about this cathartic and healing weekend.

What I'm reading

I've just ordered a copy of Writing as a Way of Healing by Louise Deslavo.

Poet (and activist and teacher and guide and much more)  Ren Powell's blog. 

What I'll be doing this week

I'll be nurturing my novel True Vines as it continues to make its way into the wider world, finishing some new ceramic pieces and playing with my trusty old Nikon D70 while I practice all that I've learned about photography over the past weekend.  More photos to follow!

I'll also be working on my change mentoring practice, walking my dog and focusing on releasing and accepting everything.

... and I'll be randomly choosing the winner of an autographed copy of True Vines! To be eligible, be sure to comment on this post.

 

 

 

meaning and purpose

This morning I woke to perfect quiet.  

The B&B season is over. The golden tinge of the distant fields revealed itself as the morning mist was driven away by an ever descending sun.  I made my way, coffee in hand, to my pottery studio, where a greenware  platter awaited me. I'm trying something different this time - a traditional piece.  It's not in my normal repertoire, but I'm doing it for three reasons.

First:  discipline.  These classic pieces, well ornamented, require dedication and patience.

Second:  improvement.  I want to improve my skill level, and there is no better way to do that than by focusing on the technical skills of a craft.

Third:  this piece uses a material called copper carbonate.  Copper carbonate is a raw material that farmers use in the Piedmontese country side for a variety of purposes. Mixed with water, they spray crystalline copper carbonate on vines to keep fungus growth from multiplying.  The local contadini also make a paint from copper carbonate, chalk and linseed oil that is used to paint wood.  This mixture creates a paint of a sea green color and protects the wood from wood worms over generations.

The technique used on this piece is the traditional European art of sgraffito. I've painted something called an engobe (which is a mixture of clay, water, quartz and colorant - in this case, copper carbonate) onto a hand built 15 inch platter, and then I've literally scratched away the excess, leaving a slightly raised design in the leather-hard clay.    Once it's dried, it will be bisque fired, and then I will glaze it with a tin-rich glaze (this helps copper to develop into a green color), and fire to 1240 degrees C.  This high temperature causes the glass in the clay to vitrify with the glass in the glaze, forming a chip-proof bond - the essential characteristic of stoneware.  Here's a more contemporary sgraffito piece that I made a few years ago:

In keeping with this tradition, the internationally acclaimed artist Alzek Misheff  and his wife, architect Eleonora Ricci have created a project entitled La Corte del Verderame (the Court of Green Copper).  They are in the process of restoring an ancient cascina outside of Acqui Terme using natural materials such as limestone and copper.  The cascina will be used for major artist events and installations.  I sat down recently with Alzek and Eleanora and discussed the project - and am now working to create ceramics that celebrate the use of copper.

With La Corte del Verderame, Alzek and Eleonora are providing the chance to participate in an artistic movement that is based on values I hold dear:  reusing existing materials, connecting with the fundamental goodness of the zone which I call home, restoring derelict buildings using low carbon impact materials and techniques, and creating beauty that is at once simple and meaningful.

This is good. It's really, really good. I find it impossible to dismiss that since the day I opened my pottery studio in Hamburg in 2000, copper carbonate has been the single most important coloring agent I've used in pots.  Anyone who knows my work knows how many acqua, turquoise and soft green pots I create.  Almost of those are created using copper carbonate.  And now, I've run with my arms wide open in to a project put together by international artists in my own home town of Acqui Terme who consider this material to be so important that they've designed an entire creative movement around it?

I move lightly in this world, amazed at what I've uncovered, and how things ultimately join forces to move me forward. I'm humbled by the events I experience.

When I feel so tired that I don't think I can go on, my words are on the verge of being published, of being released internationally, and I don't even really completely understand how that happened.

When all I can think about is laying my head down and closing my eyes, I experience one of the most satisfying and beautiful season of guests that this bed and breakfast has ever seen.

And now, when I just want to relax an aching back, I open myself up to a creative movement that speaks to everything I believe in as an artist and a woman on this planet.

These things remind me that this short existence can be packed with meaning and purpose.  And every day that we wake up, regardless what we wake up to, is another chance to manifest that meaning and purpose.

What I'm reading this week:

 Satya Colombo's amazingly timely post about having changed perspective through travel and discovering what's crucial - and worth fighting for. 

What I'm listening to this week:

Buddha Bar 5

What I'm doing this week:

Guest blogging for my new book True Vines, working in the pottery studio, walking in the vineyards with Micha and Max, cooking fall foods like pumpkin soup, lentil stew, and polenta.

cracking your beautiful, well honed surface

Your Beautiful Self.

You dream.  You function.  You do all the things that are expected.  Work things.  Home things.  Family things.  Somehow the days squeak by and you've held it together, again and again, in a way that your mother would be proud of.

Taking care of yourself means something different, though.

Your beauty, your radiant self becomes flattened and ground down as the micro fine sand of making it all work hits your surfaces, the rough edges and corners, the secret wishes and goals, the dark and the sacred until you are smooth, smooth as a stone and functioning like the machine you never really were.

Until something hits.  An illness.  A divorce.  A change.

A revelation.

And the surface cracks and underneath there are familiar shadows that reveal themselves, where all the corners and darkness and beauty have been laying in waiting for just this moment to explode through the well honed surface and remind you, once again,

who you really are.

The change may come from you or it might come through you.  But its job is always the same.

The purpose of change is to expose and reveal the essential.  The essential you.

my garden of acceptance

A mini break!

After our guests checked out yesterday, we fell into a long, early summer slumber that took us most of the afternoon to wake up from.  A strong breeze was in the crisp, dry air.

I was too tired to think, to move, really.  All I could do was let the relaxation take over.

But deep inside I'm on the move, just about bubbling over with new ideas.  After my nap yesterday I outlined two potential books that I want to write (this is why napping is so important.  Let that brain rest a little and then watch out!), staked eighteen tomato plants, and sat in a field of clover. Yes, a field of clover. I planted one in the spring and it's beautiful and full. I sprinkled wildflower seeds all over it and now there are poppies and daisies and other things I can't identify coming up all over the place.  It's beautiful.

Being out in that field with my camera made me realize that living without  nature is out of the question for me.  Wherever we've lived, we've always had a bit of outside space, whether it was a postage-stamp balcony with four basil plants or a full yard with grass and shrubs.  But here, here in Italy, the connection with outside is so strong, so primordial, so basic.

My entire family came from Italy, and so many of them bought pieces of country land and now I completely understand why.  It's impossible to be Italian and not want to have your hands in the dirt and your face in the sun.

 

I have a vision of my grandfather, a large, boisterous Italian man who was quick to smile, tending his tomato plants on his balcony in Greenwich, Connecticut.  I wish I could tell him that I understand. I see my father, putting tubers of dahlias in every spring, dozens and dozens of them, because they were his favorite flower and in the late summer, passers-by would gasp in delight at the festival of color - the sunny faces in peach and magenta and yellow gracing the edge of his massive garden.

And I look up to the blue sky and tell my father yes, Daddy, I understand. I get it. I really do.

I used to be so frustrated with my gardening efforts.  It was never good enough, pretty enough.  Things never grew fast enough, in the right shape, and watering was just a drag at the end of a busy day.  But this year, all of that has changed radically. I've accepted that it doesn't all have to be perfect.  I've accepted that to enjoy my garden, I have to let it be however it's going to be. I can't believe the difference. I've cared for the garden, mind you, but more in a talking- loving - throw a little manure on the ground way rather than in a frustrated, angry, why-aren't-you-growing way.  I've also stopped using weed killer of any kind.  There are now green patches in the gravel. Why didn't I think of this earlier?  Pansy seeds took to the wind and came up where the cars should be parked.  In the vegetable patch, the cilantro, dill and parsley are exploding next to the romaine lettuce.

What's this shift all about? Why am I enjoying things that used to be a chore? Why am I simply letting nature take its course rather than trying to constrain it into some preconceived idea of pretty and acceptable? It seems to me that it's about accepting instead of  forcing things.  I keep getting that back when I ask for guidance.  Everything seems more beautiful, more heightened, more precious.

Can it be that the notion of acceptance shifts our consciousness closer to what we really want and who we really are?

PS: Don't forget to click and  subscribe here to download the free chapters of my upcoming Ebook, Your Truth - Changing the Path Back to Yourself, to be available July 15th- xoxo

guidance: go f yourself

Hello, my friends.  What's growing in your garden this week?

Italy is a stellar place to take on all kinds of personal development.  I notice that when people arrive here, they'll dive into conversations about ten times deeper than the ones they might have elsewhere.  There's something about here that helps people let go. It's such a great thing to watch people let the worries of everyday life fall off their shoulders for a few days as they breathe in the air in the hills and let themselves relax, maybe for the first time in months, or even years.  It's quite a lovely thing to be the facilitator of relaxation, and to be able to give people that space.

I know that the sense of deep relaxation is something that comes from Italian energy, the Italian way of life. I once read that Italy is the land of old souls - that reincarnated souls come back here again and again to work in the vineyards, the connection with nature bringing the soul's development further each time. Life led us here to do this kind of work for a reason. The longing for Italy and its beautiful energy is something we see reflected in our guests' comments - and hearts - year after year.

At some point, I decided it was divine destiny that brought me here to cultivate this particular way of life.  For years, all I could see that we needed to work like dogs for years to get established and centered, and I couldn't even fathom why we needed to go through all of this - ahem- learning. But I've learned to view our work here as something greater than just having an inn and making breakfast.  It's really about the conversations, the interactions, the richness of what has been brought to us through having opened our home.

What a garden we've cultivated for ourselves.  I'm a very lucky girl.

We're guided toward a purpose.  That purpose is to  develop and take on change. This week has been one of going inside of myself and looking around a bit, at the same time reaching out to see where I want to go.  My garden's growing and growing - both my vegetable garden (full of baby tomatoes and basil and dill) and my soul-garden, where I take all the goodness that's bestowed on me by everyone I meet and try to understand what the guidance is behind the words I share with others.

We're receiving guidance all the time , as my friend Amy Oscar points out, we only have to look around and have an open mind and heart.  We are led spiritually into new ways of thinking, new ideas and new possibilities constantly.  There's nothing wrong and there's everything right with reaching out and pulling the guidance close to you so that you can come closer to yourself and what you are truly meant to do.

Guidance isn't based upon where you are professionally, or financially, but rather spiritually.  You don't need to build up walls of things around you and have your whole life in perfect order before you even start.  You just need one thing - a vision of where you want go.  And to get that vision, all you have to do is trust the guidance that you get, every moment of every day.  You know about listening to your gut, right?  It won't fail you.  You can get from here to wherever it is you want to be if you ask, listen, and do.   If you listen, you'll automatically be more connected to your guidance.

So, what I want to tell you this week, what I really want you to do, and I mean this from the bottom of my heart, is I want you to listen to me and to go F yourself.  Really.  I do.

Go Free Yourself.  Make at least two pockets of time this week, a half hour each at least, to walk by yourself and free your mind from the tension that you carry around with you.  During your walk, keep your shoulders down and breathe from your stomach.  Don't think about anything but relaxing your neck, keeping your stomach in, your back straight and your shoulders down. And walk.  Alone.  Free your mind. Free yourself up to recognize guidance as it happens.

Go Flaunt Yourself.  Write down in  your journal (you have one of those, don't you?) ten things you do really really well.  And expand on them - go into detail.  Write what you like about each of those things.   Because if you do things well, it's because you love to do those things.  Take a look at your accomplishments, right there, in hard print, for you to look back to. Flaunt yourself so that you can be guided by your strengths rather than your fears.

Go Floralize Yourself.  It's the time of year when flowers are the least expensive. Buy a bunch of posies and put them in a place where YOU can see them (I like to keep mine on my desk next to my computer).  If you want, go into a field and pick flowers instead. Get some floral love going in your life.

Go Fragrance Yourself.  Wear your favorite scent every day, a little luxury that will make you feel lovely.

Go Fantasize Yourself.  Time to get out the journal again.  Draw either a verbal or decorative picture of how you would have your most perfect room. Get specific:  color, furnishings, lighting, views from the windows.  Understand your own space desires. Guidance works hard through our fantasies, and if we wake up to what we would love to have in our lives, we'll be guided on how to get the ideal space for ourselves.

Go Fortify Yourself.  With good food that works for your body and not against it.  With knowledge about the things you want to improve yourself in. With the words of supportive friends who exist in your life for the purpose of mutual enrichment. It's when you're rested and healthy that you are best able to put guidance into action.

Go Flourish Yourself.  Give your garden what it needs to grow and thrive. Listen for guidance, stay open, and trust your gut.

I wish you a beautiful, healthy, prosperous week cultivating your garden from Bella Piemonte.

diana

PS... Have you downloaded the free chapters yet?  Click here if you haven't.....

our wandering paths

Northern Italy is a symphony in the spring.

  

The colors and textures change daily, making for a complete creative assault on my senses.  I discover elderly ladies in the lower fields of our property collecting mysterious wild greens.  They smile demurely and close their bags post-haste, not wanting to give up the secrets of the booty their mothers and grandmothers came here to pick over the last hundred years.  It used to salt me but good that they would come on my property to take something without asking, but the years in Italy have mellowed me. I want them to come, to hold on to the traditions, to bring their daughters and their granddaughters to do the same.  It's not really just my property at all, and the greens, by squatter's rights, are theirs.

Their path crosses mine in the lower fields.  I came to Italy to find myself;  their path was always here. They know who they are.  When I mention that we came here to put down down roots, no complicated words are necessary.  They understand almost immediately what I'm trying to say.  They cannot imagine a life without roots, firmly grafted to a specific place.

The change in season morphs our property from an ugly duckling of grey earth and soaked bare branches to an elegant swan of flowering trees and neon green grass. I want to grasp each day and not let any of them go.  Spring renews my sense of my own journey, fills me with purpose. Our hands are dried and split from too much time in the earth planting lavender and rosemary and not enough time at the salon.   But it doesn't matter.  It won't be completely done by the time the first cars full of guests come rumbling up the quarter mile drive, but it will be enough.  Enough for them to be able to shed their worries for a few days, pour themselves a glass of wine, and sit on the veranda to breathe.  Which is what's the most important, anyway.

 

 

The interactions, the ones with the ladies in the field or with the guests that drive up, feed my soul and give me new direction in my creative work. I'm amazed and awed by what we all go through to survive and thrive. People's stories, stories that at one time might have bored me or made me roll my eyes, fascinate me now. Each person with whom we cross paths has something to tell us, something to share. If we allow their field of energy to enter ours, we can't help but grow and change.  Because as much as our external path - the places we live, the things we do - tells of one part of our journey, it's our internal path - the one of self awareness - that leads us to the deepest sense of who we are.

I'm taking the colors around me and I'm going into the pottery studio to try and develop glazes that reflect nature.  Soft whites and creams, maybe a touch of green. My new pieces are more organic than ever, more natural.  I like this direction - it suits me on the path I find myself on presently. Here are some new pieces in the raw.

What path do you find yourself on?  What do you pick up on conversations with those around you that are signs as to how you should continue?  What is it that moves you as you remain open to events in your life?

I wish you peace on this beautiful spring day from the bel paese.

 

let go

There are times when we feel the overwhelming need to break out of our current circumstance.  It's not about our circumstance; it's about ourselves and our place at the time. This leads to complications.  If we are unhappy, we can change our circumstance.  But more often than not, it won't make us any happier.  The thing we have to change is ourselves, and to do that, we have to come to grips with who we really are. People ask me all the time about starting over and change.  It's a topic that seems to capture everyone, as though change, in and of itself, was the means to an end. As though a goal that sits at the end of a long series of circumstantial changes will result in a burst of happiness and fulfillment.

I'm somewhat of an expert at circumstantial change, as I've lived in three countries and have moved thirteen times in thirty years.  I used to say I was something of a nomad, but I think it goes further than that.  The human energy required to reroot thirteen times explains a lot to me about who I am. There's been a great deal of searching going on. It wasn't, though, until I moved to Italy that I had the time to really process the whirlwind of my life. I've actually lived in this place longer than I've lived anywhere in my adult life.  In December, we will be here nine years.

We came here with almost a maniacal need to put down roots, and to build something meaningful and somewhat permanent that we could lean on to let us breathe.   We were willing to do whatever it took to make this project work.  But what it would really take, in retrospect, to succeed at this lifestyle, was something that I wasn't ready to reckon with.  I was willing to change my circumstance, my income level, the square footage of my residence, my car, my wardrobe, my diet.  I was flexible to the point of being self-defeating. Whatever it takes, I thought, through the blurred tears and aching bones.

People who knew me couldn't really understand why I was so fragile, scared and defeated.  After all I wanted all of this change.  We  brought it on ourselves.  What was the problem?

The problem was that I hadn't yet reckoned with the greatest change to be made of all. I was ready to change this place with the goal of making it the most beautiful little inn on a hill ever, no matter what it took for me to get there. But I was blinded to the fact that even if that grand goal were to happen, I would still be fragile and hurt and unhappy with all that I had accomplished. Because the real problem was that I could not see, through all of this, my own goodness.  I could not embrace the fact that everything I did, every day, was enough.  Everything was good. In fact, everything was better than good. If you would have heard the guests speak of our place, you would say, Diana, what on earth are you talking about?  The guests love your B&B.  But all I could see, all I ever could see, was what wasn't done. And I viewed each and every one of those undone things as a momentous personal failure.

This was nothing new. Being satisfied with accomplishments has always escaped me.  As I would tick off the things that I had managed to do or learn, I would immediately keep those things in check with the list of what I had left to learn, left to accomplish - a list that was always so much longer and more difficult.  On the days of my biggest accomplishments - landing the best job ever, getting a raise,  learning how to conjugate the past perfect in German, making the prettiest bowl I had ever made - I would crawl under the covers and cry because I would have to raise the stakes again.  Nothing was ever enough.

 

Looking back, all the need for circumstantial change was just my pushing my aching self further. I created new yardsticks with which to judge my accomplishments.  New languages, new professions, new creative ventures.  When I'd master one thing, I'd move on to the next, and then the one after that.  It's just now, now at this very critical time in my life, that I am becoming aware of something very important.

It's enough.

Whatever we put forth, however we do it, it's enough and it's good on its own.  We don't have to take what we've done and pulverize it by creating another new goal out of it. we can just let the good be there. There is no need, none whatsoever, to take all the good we do and  minimizing it by looking beyond it as soon as it's in the past.  We can expand into ourselves and take in the goodness of all we do.  We can enjoy and revel in our own amazingness.  We can relax.

We can let go.  Nothing bad is going to happen if we let go and allow ourselves the pleasure of just being.

 

*

I have had the most amazing week.

I communicated Amy Oscar about what's going on and just touching in the same vibration with her made me feel calmer. If you don't know who Amy is, then I urge you not only to visit her site, but to join Twitter on Sunday mornings at 10 am Eastern time under the hash tag #soulcall .  It has become a regular stop of spiritual awareness for me.  Also, you might want to download her book about angels. 

I caught up with simplicity expert Courtney Carver about what's happening and about the wonderful new project she is working on with the amazing  Tammy Strobel  called Your Lovely Life , a chapter by chapter course for finding the beauty in our lives. I'll be talking more about this in the next weeks.

Through my friend Cristina Colli, author of the clean, lovely, and soothing lifestyle blog Positively Beauty, I learned of  Anita Moorjani, an amazing woman who has written a book called Dying to be Me, a beautiful account of her near death experience at the final phase of Stage 4B Hodgkins Lymphoma and her choice to come back and live the life she was about to leave forever.

I went back and forth with my friend Gina DePalma, executive pastry chef at Mario Batali's Babbo Restaurant in Manhattan.  She's in the throes of writing her next amazing cookbook after Dolce Italiano, and I am trying to see if I can possibly create a special plate in my kiln that can even begin to do her beautiful desserts justice.  It's a real challenge, but one that I love, because creating plates for special people and events is a labor of love.

I feel blessed and reassured that everything is exactly as it should be as I go into myself, let go of the doing and embrace the being.

I wish you, my trusted readers, a week full of promise and light.  Thank you for being there.