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Explore the world and within; Overcome fear; and Create a richer, more vibrant life.

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how to live healthier

Blue Zones: How To Live Healthier Longer

Have you heard of blue zones? If you’ve spent more than 10 minutes in my company, the answer is probably yes. I’m kind of obsessed with them. If you haven’t, or if you tuned me out (it’s cool, I get it, whatever), here it is in a nutshell: Blue zones as a concept got their start when demographic Researchers Gianni Pes and Michel Poulain identified Sardinia, Italy as home to the world’s highest concentration of men living over 100. They circled the area in blue and began calling it the “blue zone.” From there, bestselling author and National Geographic Fellow…

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Real World Magic

Real World Magic

Ancient Italy was rich with mythology. You can still see centaurs and unicorns depicted in the ancient frescos and mosaics of local castles. We recently visited one such castle where we learned how an early explorer won the king’s favor by presenting him with a real unicorn horn. It worked. The king was enthralled by the offering, which was clearly authentic as it bore all the evidence of natural growth, not human craftsmanship. He had always heard tales of these magnificent beasts, but here was real evidence of the rare and mythical unicorn! Spoiler alert: In reality, it wasn’t a…

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The Wabi-Sabi of Italy

Today we visited Volterra, Italy. It was breathtaking. The ancient city is a network of old stone walkways, arches and high medieval towers perched atop a wild Tuscan hilltop. It’s a rainbow of flowers exploding from balconies and window boxes. It’s a view of rolling farmland that never ends. It’s a rare place that makes you gasp at every turn. It’s quintessential Italy. And yet, everywhere we went, I found myself thinking about this Japanese concept called “Wabi-Sabi.” I know, it’s weird to be thinking about a Japanese concept (that sounds like sushi) when you’re in the middle of an…

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How to Wait Wu Wei

Wu Wei: How to Wait

I’m like a sled dog; give me an objective and I’ll drive toward accomplishment come hell or high water. Leave me to my own devices, and I’ll eat your couch. I am good at doing. Waiting? Not so much. Frankly, I don’t even know how to wait. My doer mindset has served me well but there are times, like the long months waiting for our move to Italy, that this tendency threatened to tear me apart. Because sometimes there isn’t anything to do. Sometimes, you have to wait. And when I’m forced to wait, the sheer friction of my own…

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Adventure in Germany

We’ll See: An Adventure in Germany

My family and I recently embarked on a three-day adventure in Germany (living abroad is amazing – everything is so close!). We were all very excited to explore Bavaria, do lots of hiking, and see the famous Neuschwanstein Castle in person. We had the whole trip planned out. After an idyllic drive through the Alps, we stopped in Innsbruck, Austria for lunch. That’s when the rain came a’tumblin’ down. This was not light, airy, Western Washington rain, like we’re used to. This was thunderous, pounding, drenching rain. On the plus side, we had Old Town Innsbruck pretty much to ourselves.…

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Da Vinci Day!

Today the kids and I set out to discover the man, the myth, and the legend himself: Leonardo da Vinci. I have been in love with da Vinci since I was a budding young art student, some two decades ago. Why? Clearly, da Vinci was extraordinarily gifted, but it’s not his amazing talent that draws me – it’s his relentless curiosity and insatiable thirst for knowledge. He sought discovery with a passion unmatched by the vast majority of humanity. And he wasn’t afraid to follow where curiosity led, whether it was mapping the whole of the Arno River Valley, studying…

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Savor the Moment

Yesterday, I mentioned that I’ve been thinking about the point of life and what it means to “let the soft animal of your body love what it loves,” as poet Mary Oliver said. While I was writing, my daughter climbed onto the bed (yes – my bed is my writing desk). I paused to give her a snuggle. Normally, I’d go right back to work but, inspired by Oliver’s poem, I took extra time to really savor the moment; the soft flutter of her hair, the creamy smoothness of her sweet skin, the feeling of her small hand holding mine.…

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What’s the Point of Life?

What is the purpose of life? I’ve been thinking about this a great deal lately; not just since we moved to Italy but throughout the last few years – and especially during the pandemic. I think we all did, to a certain extent. Perhaps it would be better to say I’ve been thinking about the point of life. The word “purpose” feels like I’m asking what product we’re supposed to get out of life, like life is a machine meant to churn out a very particular result. That seems narrow and hollow. “Point” is a much better word for it;…

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How to be Happy: La Dolce Vita

I am American. And, like many of my fellow Americans, I am strongly influenced by our country’s ideals of independence and productivity. After all, we are the nation of Manifest Destiny, pulling yourself up by your bootstraps, and the American Dream. This cultural baseline has resulted in untold innovations from assembly lines to air conditioning, to airplanes, to iPhones. But it’s not all sparkles and stars, is it? Our nation is among the least healthy and most stressed developed nations on the planet. This begs a very important question: Even with all our delights and accomplishments, are we happy? Living…

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My Big City Italian Driving Adventure

I may have mentioned that driving in Italy is like playing Grand Theft Auto. I’m already a timid driver, with a strong interest in not getting hit or hitting others. So, Italian driving is a bit of a challenge for me. Recently, my son asked to go visit a friend in Florence, about an hour away. I always tell my children “we can do hard things,” which often backfires by them telling me I can do hard things – like driving to Florence. So, backed into a corner, I said yes. But first, I did a little recognizance. I scouted…

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“We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures that we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.”

Jawaharlal Nehru