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Happy Bodhi Day!

Bodhi Day – The Best Day of the Year

Happy Bodhi Day! My family and I have been celebrating Bodhi Day for a few years and it’s quickly becoming one of my favorite holidays. I’m not sure why exactly. There’s certainly much more hoopla around holidays like Christmas, Easter and Halloween – but maybe that’s part of it. I love the quiet joy and togetherness of Bodhi Day. There aren’t long to-do lists or high expectations, just pure and simple delight.  What is Bodhi Day?  Bodhi Day is a Buddhist holiday usually celebrated on December 8th, commemorating the day Buddha achieved enlightenment. As the story goes, Siddhartha Gautama was…

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glamorous travel

Glamorous Travel

I’m sitting in the Naples, Italy airport waiting to board a yet-to-be-seen flight to Marrakech, Morocco. No one seems to know why the plane is so late or if it’s coming at all, but that’s how it goes sometimes, right? We’ve all been there, living the glamorous travel life. It’s already been a rather long day. My family and I woke at 4:30 a.m. in Rome. We grabbed a quick bite then walked about 15 minutes to the nearest bus stop. Unfortunately, the bus was delayed so, rather than risk a domino effect of missed-transit-disaster, we hailed a cab to…

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Why are you always smiling?

FAQ: Why Are You Always Smiling?

Someone recently suggested I write a post answering the question I get asked most. Determining which question was the easy part. Throughout my nearly 40 years on this planet, there’s one question I get asked more than any other: “Why are you always smiling?” So many people have asked me over the years, it’s starting to feel like I have some kind of weird condition. Like the time my young (and very honest) daughter asked a grocery store cashier, “What’s that thing growing on your face?” The reality is, I don’t have much more control over my smile than that…

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An Ode To Not Knowing What the Hell Is Going On

An Ode To Not Knowing What the Hell Is Going On

I love traveling abroad. When you’re living daily life back home, it all becomes so rote, so predictable. It’s easy to stagnate and go on autopilot. But when you’re traveling abroad, nothing can be taken for granted. The area is new; you don’t know where anything is. The language is new; you don’t know what anyone’s saying or what any of the signs mean. The rules are new; you don’t know what is and isn’t ok to do. The people are new; new faces, new personalities, new stories. The food and drinks are new; delicious and sometimes disgusting, and you…

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We keep moving forward

Around Here, However, We Keep Moving Forward

One of the first things my daughter said when we told her we were moving to Italy was, “Mom is going to be so bored.” At this point, I had developed somewhat of a reputation for being busy all the time; work, shuttling kids to activities, grad school, and just general life. I assured her that I’d be just fine and was perfectly happy to entertain myself in Italy. Then, someone else said the same thing. And then someone else. And then someone else. It just kept happening. Evidently, the general consensus was that I’d go out of my head…

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The Dishwasher Wants Salt

So, you know how when your dishwasher stops working, you call the repair man? And how when the repairman shows up, he points to the “S” on the dishwasher panel and says, “It wants salt” (in Italian of course). And you say, “salt?” just to clarify, since you’re confused; you didn’t know the dishwasher wanted anything, or had the self-awareness to “want,” or that it even had dietary sodium requirements. But now the repairman is looking at you like you’re either stupid or cruel for starving your dishwasher just because you didn’t know that “S” meant salt or that this…

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Tonic of Wildness

Tonic of Wildness

My family and I have been searching for a good swimming hole. Here in Tuscany, we’re blessed with miles of exquisite, pristine ocean beaches but we haven’t yet discovered a really good freshwater swimming spot. The Arno River runs right through Pisa, but near as I can tell, it’s a pretty industrial waterway. You don’t see people swimming in the Arno – and I don’t swim where the locals don’t (because I don’t want to sprout a tentacle). After a lot of research and a few false starts, we decided to check out Candalla Falls. It took about an hour’s…

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Misadventures in Italian

Misadventures in Italian

Since we moved to Italy, I’ve been working hard to learn Italian. It’s a bit tricky, being a whole new language and all. Fortunately, I found a couple good Italian classes to help me out. The other day, as I was leaving class, I ran into a new acquaintance who said, “I really want to learn Italian, but I’m afraid I’ll say something dumb.” I don’t remember what I told her, but what I wish I’d said was this: You don’t need to worry about saying something dumb because you will. No need to worry if it will happen, because…

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Mad King Ludwig, Walt Disney and the Wild River of Inspiration

They called him “Mad King Ludwig.” Certainly, he did nothing to protest the accuracy of this cruel nickname. By the time he had reached his mid-30’s, the young king had descended into a world of fantasty, full of costumed midnight carriage rides, fairytale castles, and elaborate banquets with the ghosts of Marie Antoinette, Louis XIV, and Madame de Pompadour. Not wanting these seemingly solo parties interrupted, King Ludwig even designed a special banquet table that could be lowered through the floor for kitchen staff to refill between courses below. But was King Ludwig really mad? Or just done? Real World…

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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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“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