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?

 

one small, serendipitous moment

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Even the Dalmation, auspiciously named Joy, embraced the mood in the Piazza.
 

If someone had told me twenty years ago, that one day I'd be sitting in the most beautiful Italian piazza on a sultry summer evening, reading to a group of people from a book that I wrote and had been published, I would have just shaken my  head and walked away.  

 

Twenty years ago I was working hard at a job I wasn't cut out to do, pushing hard towards mid-thirties mid-management burn out, wondering if there would ever be time to do the things in life I could only dream of. But that's why it's always a mistake to underestimate life and where it can lead us.

I've had some amazing doors open in my life since then.  Moving abroad, starting my own businesses, learning languages, learning an artisan craft, becoming first a cross cultural and language coach, then a change coach, and becoming a writer.  All of those creative adventures have led here, to now.   So many moments.  Moments like last weekend are the jewels, though, when everything comes together in a perfect blend of gratitude and joy that are meant to be savored.  We send our energy and work out into the world and we don't know where it will lead.  Mine lead me here, to this place, on this beautiful July evening, surrounded by a small group of friends and interested readers, where I could actually sit in my own seat of life's purpose, the one I had created, and be completely present, reading passages about beautiful Piedmont and love from my novel, True Vines.

I felt balance. I felt kindness and good will. I felt love.

All of these wonderful feelings have culminated as a result of hard work and dedication, no doubt.  But there is also a presence of Spirit that leads us on when we do the hard work we know is right for us.  We're granted a fortuitous sense of peace when we're able to let our fear-driven egos take a back seat and  step into our soul-driven life purpose.  There are moments of  great solace and comfort that come from allowing our work to happen.

I want to share with you that in the last few weeks I have had the most heart-warming experiences through coaching.   Every single session has been such a pleasure and has given me more than I ever imagined.  I am talking to the most wise and brave people, ones who understand that they have a sense of purpose to fulfill.  I feel honored to support them and to open new channels of thought to allow energy to flow in a direction that will bring them further into their own purpose.

All of this, all of this wonderful goodness with which I have been blessed - our B&B, my books, coaching, mentoring, art - are a direct result of walking into risk by leaving a predetermined path and crafting an individual one.   I can promise you, it has not always been easy.  There are days when the push back is harsh and I wonder if I'll have the strength to get back up.  But easy isn't what this process is all about.  In reality, everything's easy at soul level. <- click to tweet  It's when our egos get involved, when fear and self doubt creep into the equation that it feels like a monstrous struggle just to move one tiny step.  We feel like we're walking in molasses.  But when we understand our purpose, and choose to walk in the direction that our souls know is right for us, the molasses melts into sweet water and we are free to swim in our own sense of meaning.

When I first wrote the book Your Truth back in 2012, it came from a deep rooted sense that we are all capable of assessing our own needs, wants and desires, manifesting change and coping with the related challenges of embracing risk.  I feel more strongly about this today than ever.

When we make our intentions clear, when we give ourselves over to those intentions, things will happen to move us, shift us and change us.  I know this to be true.  I have experienced it unrelentingly for the last ten years.  Some days it's been amazing.  Some days it's been hard graft.

But last Saturday evening, in Piazza Bollente in Acqui Terme, Italy, it was magic.  And I realized, for one small, serendipitous moment, that it was all for this.

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Photos © Chris Salvo, Salvo Photo (Thank you, Chris) 

from fear to creative explosion in one giant leap

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 Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.  Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure - Marianne Williamson

I've been thinking about  fear.  A lot.  When I get this on my mind, it's usually because something has triggered my own anxiety.  Does it matter what it is, the trigger?  Not really.  Suffice it to say I have triggers.  You have triggers.  And unless we are living in a bubble where nothing changes, we'll always have them.

That's the good news.

What?

Yeah. Because fear is the fuel of creativity, if you choose to use it that way. <- click to tweet

How can that be?

If there's something inside telling you to sit down and do nothing, then there's also something inside of you what knows it's absolutely essential to get up and moving.   If something's telling you to contract, then there's also something telling you to open your arms wide and move towards what you know to be your path.

We know we're powerful.  That's why we're fearful.  Fear is the yin to power's yang.  Once we have grappled with the essence of our fear and walked, step by step, in the direction of our power, we know what we have.

I swear, I've looked at fear from so many sides now, and when it comes to roost inside of me, I know as God is my witness that I need to move towards something big.

You want to know what fear looks like?

Fear looks like inertia.  Starting a big project that you always wanted to do and not bringing it to the point where it has a chance for success.  Pushing big rocks uphill is not always fun, or easy, but sometimes you reach the top and that baby flies down the other side, you know?

Fear looks like self-sabotage.Who me?  I couldn't do that. You do it.  I couldn't.   Yeah, you could.  Very much definitely.  You could.

Fear looks like jealousy.  Everyone else's life looking great right now?  Might want to look a little deeper into those feelings.

Fear looks like chaos. Don't take a look at my closet when anxiety hits.  Just don't. I don't know who gets in there and knots up all those leggings, but it must be my slightly agoraphobic alter ego trying to have a go with me.

Fear looks like every person who ever told you you couldn't do something.  All of those people.  You know what you need to do with them? Have a little fantasy, turn them into ants with funny faces, and put them in a jar.  With no holes in the lid.  Let them scream at you from in there until the oxygen runs out.  It won't make you a bad person.  It's just metaphoric.  You can still love them in real life.  Kind of. If you really want to.

See why fear means something big is happening?  Let me tell you what's happening when fear hits.  Something so big that it makes you want to become inert, not admit you can do it , get jealous because you know people who could do it.  It' something so big that it will turn your desk into a chaotic mess and make you believe  all those people who told you you couldn't.

It's that big, the thing you're moving towards.  It's big and it's shiny and it is going to require that you take responsibility for yourself and for it.

It's yours.

So cast of the fear, my love.  Cast of the doubt that you can't move into the flow.  Stop thinking  you're too tired or to busy or just not good enough.  You have the power of the Universe in that talented hand of yours.

Embrace it!

 

creative masterminds: where to start

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start anywhere

There's this notion out there that creative people pop onto the planet with a basic understanding of what they should create and how they should create it.

There's nothing further from the truth. Which is why it's so important to try many different things on your way to creative freedom and integrity.  Because until you go through the process of trying things on, you'll never know what's uniquely yours.  It also functions like a path;  one thing you try might not be right, but it could lead you to another thing, or a person doing another thing, and then you work  to find your way through to your own individual creativity.

I see this in every creative person out there.  People who are taking their own skill set and using it to create lives that are interesting.  To them.  Your creativity cannot be interesting to others if it's not first interesting to you.

By the time I moved moved to this old farm in Italy, I had been doing ceramics for several years but was not yet making the pots I knew I could.  I also didn't know how I wanted to decorate the guest rooms. We had so much to do;  restoring four massively dilapidated old structures and clearing hundreds of trees overwhelmed us.  For the first year and a half, I had nowhere to do creative work such as painting and ceramics. I had very little hope that I'd even get to the point of really being an artist again.  But what I did do is every time I saw a picture of a pot  or an interior I loved, I pasted it to the back of our barn door.  Pretty soon it became my first mood board.  I was being creative without being creative, and it gave me back my hope for the future when it seemed I would just drown in the work of surviving.

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my first mood board in Italy, pasted to the door of the barn.

I didn't yet know how to make these kind of pots, but I knew deep inside when a photo of one hit a nerve.  The same thing with interiors. I knew what hit me.  So I decided to use the period of "creative inactivity" when we were covered with plaster from head to toe to really thing about what the path would be like as we moved down it.  When I look at the photo of this mood board now, it's astounding to me how many of the pots are uncannily similar to what I make.  I was directing my own creativity here, and it worked for me like a charm.

You have to start somewhere, so start anywhere. The key is to start, and to keep moving into it.  Don't worry if you can't afford to invest money or time in a craft right now.  You just need to start the thinking process.  Take photos of your thing.  Read articles about your thing.  Try your thing out in some small way.  Keep moving your energy in the direction of your thing.  Make a mood board;  join Pinterest .  Learn something about what moves you.  Get addicted to your own personal brand of creativity.  <- click to tweet. 

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Get interested. 

Let the interest spark learning.

Let the learning spark action.

Let the action spark commitment. 

Let the commitment spark drive.

Let the drive spark creativity.

Let the creativity spark magic.  

It doesn't matter where you start; it only matters that you start. 

creative release

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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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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.  

 

creative sustainability

It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge. - Albert Einstein

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The heart of creativity is not in its grand spurts of brilliance, but in the tenacity of its sustainability over time.

This is important because burn out happens.  And when it does, we need to remember that not doing anything for stretches of time is part of rejuvenating our creative center. Sometimes other things take precedence that have nothing to do with our creative lives.  Which is perfect.  Because the food for creativity is living, not producing.<- click to tweet.  Producing is what digests the creative food.  But if we don't occasionally step back into quiet, we'll become depleted.  So there's a balance to be found - a balance between creating and rejuvenating.

Our work becomes more meaningful, deeper, and more vulnerable if we let our lives' experiences infuse our creative tea.  The edges become softer.  Wisdom is present in the work.  Whether we're writing, potting, painting, teaching, or building, doing so from a place of peace and relaxation always beats forcing it during a period of depletion.  It took me years to learn this.  I thought creativity was about what I was producing, not about what I was living.  I am here to tell you this was a mistake. Our creativity comes from living.  It's what make our creativity sustainable.

This is nowhere more important than when we want our creativity to sustain us financially.  As creative entrepreneurs, we rely on the health of our bodies and souls to pay the bills.  This is an intricate balance of all that is good, and our work becomes our joy becomes our sustenance.   So it's very important to remember that being true to our craft means taking care of ourselves and our creative needs.

 

 

the messy bomb

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Go ahead.  Stumble. 

I am talking about letting things get messy.  Well, you know, things do get messy, right?  As much as we like to believe that our story is a clean one, one that moves towards the light, step by step, until one day we wake up, fulfilled and balanced, we know deep inside that that's a crock.

Uh-uh.

I am a grand starter of projects.  Have an idea?  Call me.  I'll get excited about it for you.  I have an exuberant amount of creative energy.  It took me years, however, many of them, to turn starts into creations of any significance.  And what I found in that process was very interesting and kind of shocking.

I found a veritable minefield of messy bombs that I needed to step on so they could explode all over the place.

Writing True Vines, I was about half way through the first draft when I started to worry.  What would people think of the book?  Would someone actually want to publish it? What did I think of the book?  Would it be worth reading?  Would anybody buy it?  Would it be worth the money they paid?

Why in the world was I even bothering?  I wasn't a writer.  What made me think I could be a writer?  Who gave me permission?

Who in the hell did I think I was? 

The bomb I  stepped on made me crawl under the covers and cry or zombie out for weeks. I felt shattered by self doubt. Until I stopped and made the decision that I was going to write the book anyway.  I wasn't going to care if it sold, if a publisher wanted it, if anyone else gave a damn about it.  I was going to write it because it was important to me.  If nothing would come of it, I would somehow be ok in the knowledge  that just writing it was a worthwhile task. I stopped wallowing and I put my canoe back into the current.  But don't believe the wallowing was a bad thing!  It was necessary part of coming to the conclusion that the book would get written at all. The book that became published, that people are reading, that has brought me so much joy and assured me that I am indeed the writer I always felt I was inside. I didn't need anyone's permission or approval after all.

Getting the most out of life means allowing the mess.  Understanding that we are, in all our sum parts, quite messy, beautiful creatures, full of contradiction and pain, love and hurt, light and dark, who manage to still weave through and shift ourselves back into gear. 

We get to be shattered.  We get to be broken.  We get to be not ok.  And we get to understand that those are all parts of authenticity.

The mess has a point, and that point is passion. To get to the passionate part of our life's work, we have to open ourselves up to the fact that we are, in fact, capable of shooting ourselves in the foot in uncountable ways. It's the minefield, my friends.  But it's not the minefield that you have to cross gingerly, hoping not to disturb the peace. It's the minefield that you must trample on with a pair of clod hoppers.

Because if you go after your passions, the peace, my friends, will get disturbed.  You can count on it.

And you will emerge, maybe a little scarred, some mud stuck in your hair, with your chin set, your eyes clear and you will be saying to yourself, "There you have it.  I did it. And here I am .  Still alive."

More than alive.  You get to have yourself, really and truly.

Don't fear the messy bomb, people.  Don't fear it at all.  Because good things, very gorgeous miracles come from the your very special mess.

 

 

 

intrepid grace

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I've come back to beautiful Italy from a two week visit to the United States.

I had so many wonderful and deeply emotional moments on this trip; it was packed with loving and meaningful encounters.  I visited with people who had been through so much suffering and change.  I saw old friends and new ones, got to speak to people who came to hear me read from my book, and  talked for hours with loved ones.  It was a trip to savor and to reflect upon; so much of what I experienced confirmed that stepping in to love is the only thing to do.

So many of those I saw on this trip have been through journeys of illness, pain, anxiety and struggle, in situations that were or continue to be incomprehensibly sad and difficult.  In each of the interactions I had, I came away astounded by the human ability to demonstrate grace at the darkest moments.  I was filled with gratitude and respect for the human spirit in the face of seemingly impossible odds.  The grace seemed tenacious to me.  Gripping.

So I named it intrepid grace.  It's that thing that keeps us human when we are battered by inhumanity.  It's the grace that propels us forward, helps us focus, and lets us know at an existential level that all is truly well.

And to experience it in such a personal way was deeply moving.

Now back in Italy, we're only four weeks out from opening the B&B for the season. That might seem like a lot of time, but it's a flash, considering there's still snow on the ground in spots!   There will be major cleaning, planting and cooking taking place over the next month.   The yang of the season is calling, pulling me out of the retrospective winter into movement and activity.  I'll step into the flow, and see where it takes me.  Big change is in the air.  Just around the bend.  I can feel it.  I'll do my best to meet it with intrepid grace.

book signing one - diana

move forward. stop resisting.

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last bit of winter

This picture is the last winter photo of the season, taken during a hike in my home town of Milford, PA while here for a book signing event.

I love doing my work.  I often find myself surrounded by the most interesting, multi-faceted people, and because flow happens when we least resist it, doors open.   Nothing happens unintentionally.  It's how we step forward, heart first, into our work, that sets the tone of what happens next.

This doesn't mean it's always easy.  There's a skill to not resisting and moving forward at the same time.

Often, we want to move forward out of a desire to control the outcome. Which almost always means resisting real events.  Because events can never mirror what we hold in our imagination to be the way things should go.  So walking forward and accepting,  walking forward and surrendering, is an acquired skill.  A muscle to develop.

Years ago, when we first moved to Italy, I had a very strong idea of how things would be, and how I'd "manage" events.   I had a vision, a solid one. But problems started to occur almost the minute we landed on the ground.  We were confronted with so many traumatic things, none of which were on our radar screen at all:

An unprecedented and unpredicted drop in the Dollar against the Euro meant a completely unplanned-for evaporation of our working capital in the first two years.

We grossly underestimated the cost of renovation.  We had bad advice from dishonest people. And we were just naive enough to believe them for a little too long.

We didn't have the proper equipment. We lacked, and still lack, a 4x4 or pick-up truck.

We had no idea what it meant to have a house carved into a mountainside, how water runs down, how it effects foundations and structures, how it finds a way into everything when you don't want it to.

We didn't know how hard it would be to clear woodland.  We lost over 30 trees in our first snowfall nine years back and didn't either own or know how to use a chain saw.

Every job that we thought should have taken a week took a month, and the tougher jobs took years.  I, in particular, worried endlessly about money, our health, the future, and what we had gotten ourselves into.

In short, we moved forward every single day.  But I personally put up so much resistance, every moment comparing the way I thought things "should be" with the vastly different reality that I ended up drained, injured and sick. For several years.

Now juxtapose that against the fact that within a very short time, we had managed to open what is a successful B&B and all the people who came to us just loved it, despite the fact that it wasn't perfect or even close.   Everyone could see the blood, sweat and tears.  But the only one who could not really enjoy a single second of it?

Yours truly.

I couldn't see how taking on this seemingly impossible project under difficult circumstances has forced me to grown in ways I had never anticipated.  I couldn't appreciate what my situation was teaching me.  All I could feel was pain - intense pain - because my reality wasn't matching up to the thought of how I felt things should be.

One day, in a session with my coach Amy Oscar, she said to me, "You know, I've never had an inanimate object try to speak through me.  But I think your house is trying to tell you something.  It's trying to tell you that it's OK."  My house would let me have my pain, let me beat against its stone walls as it had done for generations of women before me, and would let me stand up, get my bearings, and move forward.  If I could only accept its lessons and not fight them continuously.

If I could only stop crying and start understanding what the real message was of why I had come to Italy in the first place.

If I could only stop resisting. 

I am in America right now, where I gave my first book reading, where Amy and so many other of my loved ones were in the audience, and I realized something:  This house in Italy - it gave me this moment.  This moment filled with love and gratification, with so many beautiful people in my private and professional circle.  This house helped me retouch with people from the past, and led me to shake hands with my future mentors and friends and partners.  This house, this impossible, beautiful place on a hill in Italy turned out to be my salvation.

You don't need a house in Italy to stop resisting while continuing down your path.  It is possible for you to move forward and to stop resisting at the same time.  My dream upon coming to Italy is vastly different than how it's turned out.  In many ways, it's a far deeper and more meaningful experience than I ever could have imagined.  I know more now.  I trust my instincts more than ever.  I can sense people's pain and blocks and reach out to them and help them understand their own knots, and untie them.  Before I came to Italy, I was so knotted up myself I could barely even stand up straight.  But I didn't know that then.  I needed to drop myself into a nearly impossible situation and find my way back to myself.

Your goals are your goals.  They are good. But they are not necessarily going to be the result of your work.The result might look completely and totally different to what you have in mind at the outset.  This is a good thing, my friends.  A very good thing.  Because if you move forward, listen, accept, surrender to what is, and keep moving forward despite the difficulties and the obstacles, you will end up with a level of personal success that is beyond what you are even capable of dreaming right now.

Remember who you are as you move forward. 

Remember to listen carefully, not only to what people are telling you, but what your inner voice is trying desperately to communicate to you.

Remember to put love forward, including loving yourself, as you move along.  Taking care of yourself as you move into new things will keep you well during what might be frighteningly uncertain times.

Remember that you can do many things, but you can't force anything.  Take reality at its word, absorb its lessons, and adjust your plan.

In the end, you'll find yourself exactly where you are meant to be.

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This past week in America has been an emotional roller coaster.  I had the most amazing book signing with over 60 people in attendance.  My cousin Lisa Rolleri of Domestic Diva made the Italian cookies, most of them gluten free, family & friends came from far and wide, and we raised money for the Pike County Public Library.  It was a fantastic event, the first of what I hope will be many.

After that, my mother and I travelled to visit an ill family member.  It was an emotional reunion, and one that brought many feelings of both love and sadness.  On the heels of the book signing, I was reminded of the fragility of this time we have and how important it is to project love as often and as much as possible.

I look forward to returning to Italy to exorcise winter out of the house, and to prepare, once again, for visitors from far and wide.

I wish you all, my dearest readers, a wonderful week, whatever your goals, and wherever you are.

your own sun, moon, sky. yourself.

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The more you gravitate toward doing your own work, the more life will test you. This is a good thing.  It might not feel good at the moment, but it's a good thing.  Because as you gravitate towards the things that move you and that mean something to you, you'll bounce against your own personal limits.

Think of yourself as living inside of a balloon  - a really big one.  It's translucent but not transparent.  But you know, because you've concentrated really hard, that the real joy, the real love, your real story is outside of the balloon.  You can see the way the light prisms out there, and it's glowing at you, through the skin of the balloon.

But the balloon keeps you safe, and as long as you accept its limitations, you can walk around inside of it unimpeded.  The balloon is your safety zone that cuts you off from your truth.

The balloon has had its benefits, but it's served its purpose.

So you start taking a running jump, and bashing into the side of the balloon.  And it stops you. Hard.

It's resistance.  It's self doubt.  It's holding on to how others think about you too tightly. It's judging others and allowing them to judge you.  It's bad boundaries, and it's not being able to say no when you really want to.  All of those things have formed this micro-thin fiber that's tightly woven and creating the inner surface of your balloon.  And seemingly impossible to break, since you're thrashing around in the darn thing trying to get out so hard.

Until on day you realize that it's not about bashing through your comfort zone.  It's about loving your way through it.

You want to try new things that are outside your comfort zone? Try compassion, patience and love.  Towards yourself.

Take steps carefully, prudently, but determinedly.  Do your homework.  Take care of yourself.  But keep moving.  Take pushback as learning and find another way.  Allow yourself to fall, and to get back up.

You know what's going to happen?  All those hard fibers of resistance?  They'll start to dissolve.

And suddenly, that balloon that kept you closed up inside becomes something else.  It becomes the stage that introduces you to the world.  It becomes the steps that you climb.  It becomes the story that is under your feet and reminds you of how far you've come.

And you are the glittering light that you viewed at from inside.  You are the glow.  You are your own sun, moon and sky.

winter5
winter5

 

 

 

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.  

 

the life of the creative, curious person

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I received the most amazing message the other day from a friend with whom I attended college over 35 years ago.  This is a woman with whom I lost touch almost immediately after graduation but never forgot.  She was this beautiful natural redhead with depth and aura.  I often wondered what happened to her. Thanks to the wonder of the internet, we rediscovered each other and, since she's a kindred spirit, we took up where we left off, not having to communicate with great regularity, but with the knowledge that whenever we would communicate, it would always be the same, wondrous, easy dialog we've always enjoyed.  These types of connections are real, powerful and prove that we are energy - and that as such, we connect at levels so much deeper than we are aware of at the surface.

Her message had to do with the issues we face as artists and creatives - the most notable, being understood by those around us.  My friend contends, in her message to me, that the reason creatives sometimes feel like fish out of water has to do with...

"...A very fundamental difference in how we see the world, and what’s important to us."

This different way of seeing the world alters our perceptions, and makes us vulnerable in ways that are difficult to articulate.  There are not many creative people I know that have not experienced some sense of sitting on the outside.  As if being creatively individualistic is sometimes too much of a challenge for group think, and therefore isn't always appreciated. Creative people are often seen as demanding, because of the desire to be understood.

Creativity is a burden and  a gift.  It can make life difficult; it can challenge relationships between ourselves and others but at the same time it gives us tremendous opportunity.

It's as if the lens of the creative person focuses on things that don't even seem to be there at first glance, and then tortures itself to bring those things into focus, obliterating the obvious,  exalting the subtle.  The creative person digs, sometimes with great fury, to uncover the greatness in the ordinary, the meaning in the forgotten.  And she does this because she can't not do it.  Because to not do it means to die inside.

Because the creative person is nothing if not curious. And curiosity brings with with it, by its very nature, change.  Development.  Growth.  Casting away of one school of thought, opening to another.  And that brings with it humility, vulnerability and sometimes pain.

Each of us, at our core, is creative.  Curiosity is something with we humans are each born.  We can take that curiosity and bury it.  We can think of life as boring and dull, and make our own existence living proof that it is so.  Or we can honor our own creativity, allowing it to blossom in which ever way seems the best for our nature.  Creativity is not limited to art and music.  It encompasses everything from math to Mozart.  From chemistry to Cézanne.  There is creativity in how we live, what we wear, how we express ourselves.

But creativity does not stand a chance if there is no curiosity behind it.  And curiosity, by its very nature, comes with a life long question mark.

What can you do?

What can you reach for?

How far can you go?

There is power in the knowledge that the answer to all of these questions will always be more questions.  We're not really here at all to get answers, because there aren't any, not really.  Which is why curiosity is so important.  Our wisdom comes from the path, from the trying, from being open and humble, not from having the answers. 

There are no final answers.  There are only more questions. So you can roll up and die of boredom right this very minute or you can choose the other option.

Ask your questions. Work for the response, and discover the new questions buried within the answer.  

Such is the life of a creative, curious person.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

passion, creativity, illumination and getting published

pottery will always be my refuge, as long as my hands can move

(Photo of my hands courtesy of Julia Russell)

Passion effects who we are.  

When we open ourselves to our own pulsing, pumping, inexhaustible passion, things start to change.  Our hearts twist our mindsets, and our mindsets get wrenched out of the comfortable paradigms where they've been festering and attaching themselves to judgement and doubt.  I can't do this suddenly becomes well, I can at least try.... and when you try, your mindset gets kicked around even more.  More changes happen and your preconceptions about yourself get blown into the wind like petals on a fruit tree in May.

And you're left naked in your own discomfort, shoved head first out to where you were always meant to be.

Sometimes passion is borne of tremendous, overwhelming pain, as if trauma finally makes us snap to and say it's now or never.  Sometimes it's borne of a dead, aching heart that realizes mediocrity and settling for what works and nothing more could possibly be the worst prison of all.

However it comes, whatever the catalyst, the first few steps require bravery.  Our feet shake and our minds scream to run for cover. But if we can hang tough and not let the headwind blow us back into never trying, the path twists and what seemed like the loneliest walk ever becomes illuminated.

Illuminated by others who honor your journey and believe you.

Illuminated by others who will help you and guide you.

Illuminated by a spirit so strong that suddenly you understand there is no going back.  The comfort zone is the dead zone.  This new thing is the land of the living.  And then there, in front of you, in a haze, is your passion, waiting for you to come and take its hand and walk on.

If playing it safe is the thing you feel compelled to do, ask yourself this:  twenty years from now, if you're fortunate enough to live that long, how will you feel about having played it safe?  Will there be lingering doubt or regret for not having taken the less travelled road?  Maybe it's tough to project out that far.  But only you know what secret dreams rest inside.  And only you know what sacrifices you might have to personally make to get yourself on the path to realizing your dreams.

Vine Sketch - Sue Pownall

I've stepped out into the frosty cold a few times now.   My latest venture, a novel called True Vines, hits the market on November 1st.  I started writing True Vines after a life season of great personal distress, as if getting the words of this novel out of myself would bring me to a deeper understanding of my own sense of confusion.  That's exactly what happened;  in seeing the story that my own hands wrote, I could grasp more of my own - leading me to learn that we are capable of being our own healers.

True Vines is a story of rebuilding life at a fundamental level. Part of change is letting go of worry about the result.  This book, a teacher for me, is now ready to make its way into the world and whatever happens from this point forward, it's mine to accept. The cover is full of meaning.  The painting in the background is one that I did several years ago while trying to capture the beauty and isolation of where I live.   I live in a house on a hill.  It protects me and challenges me at the same time.  Superimposed over the painting is a beautiful illustration of vines by my friend and fellow artist Sue Pownall.  The vines are the connection, the object that moves everything forward - they produce the grapes that turn into wine that connect this little house with the outside world.

You can pre-order True Vines by clicking on the cover photo above.  It's a wonderful holiday gift for yourself and the women in your life.

 

Here's a short trailer to give you a feel for the book.

entrepreneurial cojones: give me your best marketing idea and win a free copy of my ebook Your Truth

Entrepreneurial cojones. 

(please note lack of graphics since I couldn't think of an appropriate picture to post with this)

No matter how honest your work is, or how beautiful, or how pure, or how simple or true, the fact is, if you want to get the word about your work out to the world and separate yourself from the masses, you better have a pair.

Because as long as it's sitting on your hard drive, in  your art studio, in the back of your gorgeous mass of grey cerebral tissue that sits on your momentarily well-tanned shoulders, your work is very much NOT DONE.

Love Thyself, Market Thy Work

Producing work you love is the easy part.  Having the guts to take it to market and see it fly is quite another animal and doesn't always come naturally.  Because it means engaging in the time honored tradition of selling thyself.  The world needs to know about you and all you do!

It was not too long ago when I thought that I had no idea what this meant.  I was engaged in an online discussion and feeling very much like a pesce out of water because the subject was content marketing your small business through social media.

A couple of hours later, I thought, now wait a New York minute here:

Who's kidding who?  There's a  successful B&B in the middle of the Italian countryside where there was once a pile of rocks.  Oh.  And there's that thing hanging on my wall... what does it say when I read the fine print?  Right. Bachelor of  Science in Marketing. 

Turns out I do know something about this stuff, and I better start using rustling up everything I've got in my backpack, because to be honest I've got my hands in a plethora of creative projects right now, enough to keep me busy to my eyeballs. And every single one of them needs marketing attention. 

There's my novel, True Vines, published by Gemelli Press  that will be hitting bookstores and and online shops in late October.

There's my B&B, booked to the gills until the end of October.  (Oh, the end of October is going to be a crazy time.  I see it already.)

There's a new art charity donation project that I'm working on with some fellow artists.  It's all hush hush for now, but our goal will be to change the world in a small way with beautiful art.  Stay tuned.

I'm coaching clients on life change.  This is huge, and something that I've very quietly working on for a long time.  I've started with a very limited number for this summer and fall, and I'll be opening my coaching schedule in early 2013 and taking on new clients.

Last but not least, I've written and self-published Your Truth:  Changing the Path Back to Yourself, an ebook about having the courage and conviction to be who you really are and take on the work you were meant to do.   It's for sale here as a PDF and on Amazon.com in Kindle form. 

And that's just the start of the list. Hey, I'm a busy girl.  And it's not going to slow down anytime soon.

But enough about me. Let's talk marketing  strategy:

I am going to share with you one of my best marketing ideas to grow entrepreneurial cajones:

If you have work you want to market, I am going to assume you have a blog already. Go and visit blogs that say what you want to say, only to a larger audience.  Follow those blogs, read what those people write.  If there's a match between what you do and what they say, write to them. Make contact. Be nice.  Use good grammar.  Be helpful if you can.  Don't expect them  to do anything for you if they've never heard of you before.  The internet is all about relationship building.  Start stretching those networking muscles, as uncomfortable as it may feel at first.

After you've managed to establish contact, write up a guest post (and proof read it ten or twenty times) that directly relates to what the larger blogger is all about.  Send her/him the post.  It might get posted.  If it does, make sure that you have a stellar blog post up on your own blog that day to link back to and  show off the best of who you really are.  If they don't post it, offer it to another blog.  Lather, rinse, repeat.

Make contact.  Your work is important, and people want to know about important work.

For those of you who come here for anything other than marketing advice, consider this:  we create.  We put ourselves out there and we risk so much just by being who we are.  Marketing our goods is just the next step in founding our path.  One foot in front of the other.  We can do it and be honest and true to ourselves.  We can stand up and say, this is what I do/make/have to offer.  And people can decide whether they want these things or not.  But they can't decide if they don't know about us in the first place.  So stand up for yourself and put yourself out there.  Don't be afraid.

Now it's your turn. Give us your best on-line and social media related marketing ideas.

I'm offering 3 free copies of my ebook  Your Truth for the three best online marketing ideas for entrepreneurs.  While I'll be the final judge, I'll probably be calling on marketing mentor guru hunk-types like Marcus Sheridan and John Falchetto  to help me decide.  These guys have hunky marketing grey matter on their tanned shoulders.   

Remember, your work is your work.  It's you in manifested energy form.  You're an artist, and you have something to give the world.  Oh, and one other thing.  Thanks, Marcus.  Your post today gave me the whole cojones visual to work with.  HA!! 

 

 

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.....

your time

What do you do with your time?  Is there enough of it?  Do you feel like you need more time to do what it is you were truly meant to do, because commitments and work and family and friends and pets and just keeping up take up every single waking moment of your day?

 

So much is asked of us in the average day.  Not  just the tasking, but also the comprehending.  The amount of information available to us borders on infinite as we  cope with making sense of it.  We try not to overwhelm.  We do the best we can with the time we're given.  And at the end of the day, we see, with great clarity, all the things we've pushed off for another day.  Those things fall into a bucket - a bucket of things to do when we have time.  One day.

And we wonder, really wonder if there will be the time, or the resources, or the freedom and support from those around us to fly.  Ever.  

Because flying means taking steps and falling and recovering.  Can we really do that in between everything else we have to do?  Can we really try and allow ourselves the luxury of obstacles and failure and new starts that flying really requires, all the while keeping up the metronomic tact of our everyday existence?

Of course we can.  But it means looking at time in new ways, to try to get what we want out of it, instead of letting it get what it wants out of us.

Once we've decided that something is worth sacrifice, we have to sacrifice something.  Time online.  Television time.  Wine drinking time.  Pasting together pockets of time, small ones, to dedicate to something meaningful can change everything. Because once we dedicate ourselves to exploring our interests in a way that's unencumbered and free, we will be propelled forward until the entire activity starts to take on a life of its own.  I've seen it happen again and again.  It always amazes me, synchronicity, because it  incorporates a strong spiritual aspect, one where if we push ourselves in the right direction, we'll brought to a completely different place, through doors where the keys fit and unlock treasures without as much as a sound.  That kind of spirituality - the kind the moves us just because we're open to it  moving us.

I'm finishing up my ebook, Your Truth.  The first few chapters will be available soon here as a free download.  If you like it, the rest will be available for purchase on Amazon.  We're starting our B&B season shortly and are finishing major landscaping work.  And I'm working on the publicity plan for the release of my upcoming novel.  My pottery studio is full of pieces to glaze and finish in the next week or two. Overwhelm is hitting me in the night and the early hours of the morning.  But I look at all of these activities - every single one of them  - and I realize that they are a result of taking chances and flying.  So I'm accepting the overwhelm right now as a part of where I am.  I remember to step back and not think.  To allow my spirit to breathe and take in the moment as it presents itself.  It's not always easy to do this but I know I must.  And that every day is beautiful, even the ones fraught with challenge and trepidation.

That life is lovely.

Speaking of loveliness, if you would like to seek more treasures about your own life, your own time and how to get what you want from both, take a look at my friends Courtney Carver and Tammy Strobel's project, your lovely life.  They're offering the perfect online course for just this subject called your lovely lessons.   

For those of you who are not familiar with these two ladies, their blogs are a trove of inspiration about simple living and making time for what you really want.  They're two experts on the subject.  I've known them both for years, and return to their blogs again and again to center myself. They interviewed me recently for the Lovely Life project - it was an honor to be part of it.

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.