Category Archives: light

July Magic

Hi! This is July and usually, I hate to say, I’m sort of in the Summer doldrums by now. My lovely humid hometown makes it easy to leave you feeling dirty and gritty in July and August. But not this year. And what a magical thing that has turned out to be! I say that because, as an Atlanta native, this is the first year that I’ve decided to run the Peachtree Road Race. It is the world’s largest 10K (or at least billed to be) and is a major event every year. Typically, I’ve equated running the Peachtree with being as dumb as a lump on a log — because who runs in 98+ degree with 80+ humidity and NO RAIN? Well, about 60,000 do, that’s who. And this year, I was one of the idiots.

Except I wasn’t. The weather was its mildest ever for the race. They had the fewest numbers of heat related incidents. It was remarkable. Mother nature smiled on me and I was able to finish the race in spite of the past few months of aging body problems (you know, feet, back, the like). Sure, it was a run and walk event for me, but I did it and am super happy that I participated in an Atlanta institution. Even happier that I didn’t have to be walked to Piedmont Hospital during the event.

And for more magic, today I did something that I completely wouldn’t have expected to do (well, my 12 year old self would have). I woke up at 5 a.m. and went to a yin yoga class that started at 6. It was in a hot yoga room which I was not expecting. So two of my resistances were dismissed in one morning. Getting out of my comfort zone (and comfortable bed) was definitely worth it this morning. I feel like electricity and lightening bugs. It’s a great way to start the day and I may be a believer.

Send out good vibes to the universe. I know a lot of people that could use the extra lightness right now.

All Saints’ Day

Today I put a gold star on my calendar and noticed that it was All Saints’ Day. Not being especially religious, I had to look up the significance of the day and discovered thanks to Wikipedia that today Western Christianity commemorates those that have attained beatific vision. Wow. Let me just say, I’m not there. However, the placing of the star on the calendar for me today has taken on something akin to communing between the individual and the universal. Today marks the 1 year anniversary of me quitting smoking.

This is a deeply personal day and entry in my life. First, I should just say to all of you non-smokers out there that you may want to suspend judgement or stop reading. I, more than you, do understand that smoking is by and large a self-inflected torture and slow suicide. So, if your impulse is to say “well you shouldn’t have been dumb enough to smoke in the first place” you are correct. Bravo. Good for you. Now shut it. Talk to me about addictions that you may have (chocolate, work, sex, cocaine, heroine, anger, exercise, coffee, TV, food, etc.) And if truly you have lived your life without a crutch or addiction, then I still ask you now to just be quiet. Because this isn’t about you.

This is about everyone else.

Addiction, especially in the case of tobacco, lives in the psyche and the body. On many levels, the psyche is the hardest place to scrub. The body will eventually forget. But the psyche will cling to the crutch and I wonder, even a year later, when it will stop seeking the soothing beast of nicotine. Just last night I had a dream that I was lighting More’s for a friend of mine (a friend that in reality doesn’t smoke). The guilt and shame of that act lingered even upon waking. Smoking is still that powerful.

So, today, a year out, I am celebrating the long road I have ahead of me of learning how to live without a crutch. And one way I’m going to do it is to provide a little bit of advice on how to quit for anyone out there that may stumble upon this post.

Quit everything at once. Go online and find what is usually called the elimination diet. It is a diet that was created mainly to find out what food allergies you may have. The goal of the diet is to eat 3 main foods (chicken, turkey, rice with a few acceptable greens) and that’s all you eat for about 3 to 4 weeks and then you slowly add food back in and see if you react to it. (I tried to find my doctor’s version of this, but all of the ones online allowed more than I could eat. Seriously, ground turkey, rice, baked chicken, water, lemon and spinach are the only foods I could eat.) I had to do this last year and decided to go ahead and make it a pure test and to quit smoking. I can’t emphasize this enough — quitting is tough. I tried it several times and several different ways. But quitting everything (even pepper!) is brutal. And so, I think that’s one way it worked for me. The nicotine demon was competing with a whole lot of other demons. The simple fact of the matter was that after 2 weeks of that lifestyle, the thing I wanted more than ANYTHING in my life was pepper and spice and flavor. Easy? Absolutely not. Effective? Well, I wouldn’t be writing this entry if it weren’t.

My other advice is to surround yourself with compassionate and supportive people. As hard as it was, I avoided my few friends that still smoked. I had to. And, when I did see them, I made it very very clear that not only was I not going to, but I wasn’t going to be around them smoking. Quitting all foods and flavors takes care of the physical addiction, but what really got me through the inner struggle was having 1 or 2 close friends that I could talk to and they would cheer me on. Yes, cheerleaders do help.

And that’s it. Will it work for everyone? Probably not; you have to really be ready to let go and that is something no diet or advocate can do for you. That’s all you. But, just so you know, as someone on the other side, I have replaced one deadly habit with being more active, smelling like the perfume I put on, having more money, walking up hills or stairs, not hiding, having no shame, feeling clean. Being happy. Most of all, being free.

Happy All Saints’ Day! Go out and quit something you should. Let me know if I can help.

Rekindled

I’ve just been reading the NYTimes article about the Winter Solstice. It brought back Rome and my teenage years and rambling in the woods and all the mythology of my life so far. There is a whole life of shadow and another of the Sun that we can’t even begin to pinpoint within ourselves. Yet I do intend to try soon.

This past weekend I was able to participate in a lighting of a fire, this time it was burning rum off of chocolate to make a really tasty mousse — regardless of the reason, this convergence of themes has reminded me to light the fires of the things we need to get rid of. So I’m going to collect those bits of consciousness and memory and acknowledge that I’ve learned from their pain/experience/moment and then I’m going to burn them on their little scrapes of paper. I’m going to celebrate the fear and cycle of life with every little flicker. Allow them to lift off and enter the inky dark. I’ll see the new that comes from it.

Happy Winter Solstice!

Easy like Sunday morning (or Trieste, pt. 1)

Waking a bit after the sun, but not too much, we began. It was a cold morning and I was happy that we were in a car crossing the Apennines and their frosty tops. Deciding to take it easy the first leg of the trip was a good idea, because it gave me a chance to see the Tuscany rarely filmed, the winter. Part of me thinks it is fitting to be born in the dead part of the year; another, bigger and truly little girl part of me longs for the chance of a spring birthday. But at least this year it worked for me. Those famous Tuscan hills are glorious during the rest of the year; but I must admit, the browns, grays, greens and shockingly blue skies after a morning shroud of fog was a lovely enigma gently uncovered.

Avoiding the bane of the autovelox (fixed speed cameras) we slowly climbed and swayed through the mountains. I insisted on being allowed a few non-moving pictures, so the trip was much longer than we thought — but ultimately worth it. I love seeing the small little towns, the public art they display, and watching everyone go about their daily lives while living in what could only be called picturesque perfection — it gives you a pause. I believe all of our lives have something beautiful about them that others would want to take a picture of. And yet, there is the realization that even in a picture, the people in them still have to work, buy groceries, and put up with traffic. For me, it was refreshing.

We finally made it to out of Tuscany and too the east coast of Italy. An hour or so below Venice, we stopped and ate a delicious meal before heading up to Trieste via the highway. And this put us getting into Trieste after dark. I was joking before I saw it, that I hoped it was another “city of light” because I was a bit upset to be arriving after dark. And serendipity took care of me. It appeared as a city of light cupping the Adriatic sea. Hopefully the pictures will do it justice. Nothing like having a sparkling display greet you on the eve of your birthday.

Trieste pt. 1

Cursed blessed day

It is a day of black and white (so far).

Had to come back to Coverciano this morning at a little past 6 after falling asleep downtown. Early morning dark and the fading stars; lovely. Napped at home, dreamed of old friends, nostalgic. Bathed, went to teach a class back at the train station that wasn’t really meeting; frustrated. Took the number 10 bus, that then broke down; irritated. But the walk home was brilliant, leaves falling in the light, presence of god blue sky, cool wind; soothed. Only to arrive back at home an hour after the PosteItaliane tried to (for the second time) deliver a package I’ve been anticipating for 3 weeks. Sigh.

With all the peaks and dips of the day’s first half, I’m wondering what will happen this afternoon.

Tomorrow I camp out on my stairs until the package arrives.

Dreamscape

The winter brings the fog. I’d forgotten that. Everything can be very yellow, grey, pink, green and terracotta here and then when it is blurred—yet still lit by the sun, it becomes a realistic special effect. As if the place didn’t look stuck in time enough, then you ad fog and well, the question of “when am I?” rises to the surface. If you catch the top of the Duomo looming from between buildings wrapped in mist, it looks like a post card from the fantasy of your mind. As if your subconscious could send you an image and say “wish you were here.”

Maybe it is all a dream. Maybe the cold walks to class with long strides, voyeauristic damp, morning rush, dodging pigeons and angry scooters is not a part of this time over. But I suspect reality is knocking.

Not today though. Today I’m voiceless and at home missing class with books in the bed and medication at hand. If you try to call me, be warned. When I make a sound, it is a raspy bellow.

Pre-dawn

There is the slightest bit of color creeping into my eastern horizon letting me know I can give up any ghost of sleep. For the past few hours I’ve had other ghosts on my mind; ghosts of old boyfriends and forgotten friends. Primarily and honestly though it has been Mark that occupies my sleepless thoughts.

If you don’t know, he and I were together for almost 7 years and we restored the house I’m currently selling. Walking through the empty rooms, discovering the paint jobs he skimped on, remembering all the little details of home renovation that we went through together has forced me to bring that large bit of my past into new consciousness. I joked the other night about how odd it is I will profit on the house he talked me into buying. It was a dump when I first saw it and after a lot of effort on both of us, it really is a dwelling, a home, and beautiful container of many memories and life changes of mine. And the biggest change was a direct result of heart-break.

Because, while selling my home and packing (again) for Italy, the thing that keeps rolling around in the loose spaces is that I would have never gone if still in that relationship. There was no way it would have seemed plausible to even apply for a job in Florence. It was difficult for me to not assume responsibility and dress up for the roles of stability and security.  But the past (almost) two years has reacquainted me with independence, whimsy for my own sake and the joy of never needing to consult for a personal decision. And I have Florence. So freedom to live and discover life is well worth the pain of a few months of tears and heartache.

Unfortunately, there’s the rub. The salt that kept me up last night. I have no way of thanking him. No way to let him know all is truly forgiven (and for once, not forgotten). I can’t swap stories about my life now or let him know that after all the time we shared I’m finally doing what he wanted me to do and that is to live and to write and to not be afraid.  But I’ll take comfort in the fact there is always a dawn and hope that he too has found his.

Ah, and look, now it’s daybreak.