How Not to Get Away with Murder

I’ve been binge-watching “How to Get Away with Murder” on Netflix. This means I no longer sleep at night because I’m too busy figuring out how I’d evade incrimination in the same scenarios. The HTGAWM characters always pull it off, cool as cucumbers, but there’s one risk factor they don’t have: me. I am manyContinue reading “How Not to Get Away with Murder”

Three Months in a Hotel: Falling in Love with In-Voluntary Simplicity

September, 2022: Four months ago, we waved goodbye as our worldly possessions drove away on the first leg of their transcontinental journey and we began our real-life experiment with in-voluntary simplicity. Everything we owned was packed away in crates, then loaded onto a truck, then transferred to another truck, then loaded onto a cross-Atlantic barge,Continue reading “Three Months in a Hotel: Falling in Love with In-Voluntary Simplicity”

Learning Italian: In my Country, I was a Doctor

I’ve gotten pretty good at navigating the basics of daily life in Italy; buying groceries, ordering coffee, driving, etc. I’m learning Italian, which is very far from perfect, but slowly, it’s becoming enough to get by. Sometimes, I even get a taste of competence. Sometimes, not so much.  The other day, a plumber and aContinue reading “Learning Italian: In my Country, I was a Doctor”

Meditation, Italian Prison and the Voice in my Head

The other day my son asked if I have a “narrator,” or voice in my head. Apparently, he had heard some people do and some people don’t.  “What do you mean by ‘narrator?’” I asked, just to clarify, even though I was pretty sure I already knew.  “It’s a voice you hear in your headContinue reading “Meditation, Italian Prison and the Voice in my Head”

Facing the Fear: Adventures in Abseiling

I am afraid of heights. However, my husband is not, we both like adventure, and I attempt to embrace personal growth. So, I often find myself … up.  We climb buildings and bridges, zipline and peer down into canyons. It’s good for me. And I like to think it’s good for him to share theseContinue reading “Facing the Fear: Adventures in Abseiling”

My 40th Birthday

I am writing to you from the front lines of my 40th birthday. While I know that for many people, this day is often … um… memorable, this day has been one for the books. Today, I witnessed one of the most disturbing things I’ve ever seen, and I experienced one of the purest delights.Continue reading “My 40th Birthday”

Who Was the First Person To Go Over Niagara Falls in a Barrel?

Who was the first person to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel? Her name was Annie Edson Taylor. She was a 63-year-old school teacher from Michigan, of all the unassuming things. She was the first person to win the ultimate gamble against Niagara. She went over the falls in a barrel… and survived. Who WasContinue reading “Who Was the First Person To Go Over Niagara Falls in a Barrel?”

Sexy Camel Selfies and an Unexpected Surprise

I recently found myself in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco with my family, a Bedouin guide and me from 20 years ago – three of them, actually.  Let me explain – a few weeks ago, my family and I joined a group of travelers led by a Bedouin guide for a day trip through theContinue reading “Sexy Camel Selfies and an Unexpected Surprise”

The Craziest Thing I Ever Saw

The craziest thing I ever saw happened as my husband and I were walking down a road in Railay Beach, Thailand. The sun was still high in the sky, but the rhythm of the town was already transitioning from day to night. The dilapidated road was bordered by recently closed shops on one side andContinue reading “The Craziest Thing I Ever Saw”

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 andContinue reading “Bodhi Day – The Best Day of the Year”

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 longContinue reading “Glamorous Travel”

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 startingContinue reading “FAQ: Why Are You Always Smiling?”

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 whatContinue reading “An Ode To Not Knowing What the Hell Is Going On”

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 herContinue reading Around Here, However, We Keep Moving Forward

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 wantedContinue reading The Dishwasher Wants Salt

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’tContinue reading “Tonic of Wildness”

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,Continue reading “Mad King Ludwig, Walt Disney and the Wild River of Inspiration”

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 theirContinue reading “Blue Zones: How To Live Healthier Longer”

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 byContinue reading “Real World Magic”

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 makesContinue reading “The Wabi-Sabi of Italy”

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 butContinue reading “Wu Wei: How to Wait”

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,Continue reading “We’ll See: An Adventure in Germany”

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 drawsContinue reading “Da Vinci Day!”

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 giveContinue reading “Savor the Moment”

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 theContinue reading “What’s the Point of Life?”

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,Continue reading “How to be Happy: La Dolce Vita”

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 hourContinue reading “My Big City Italian Driving Adventure”

Funny Dentist Stories: The Italian Dentist

So there I was, in need of a dentist in Italy. As it turns out, the best, English-speaking Italian dentist was located in the heart of Pisa. As this area is a spider’s web of one-way roads and vehicle restricted zones, I decided to park outside the historic wall and walk 15 minutes to theContinue reading “Funny Dentist Stories: The Italian Dentist”

Funny Dentist Stories: I Didn’t Go To Dental School

A year or so ago, a dentist noted that my back left molar was slightly cracked. It wasn’t terrible, so he said we could wait and keep an eye on it. Four months ago, a different dentist noticed the crack and recommended the tooth be capped ASAP. He explained that if we didn’t cap it,Continue reading “Funny Dentist Stories: I Didn’t Go To Dental School”

Learning How To Drive in Italy

Driving in Italy is like a sport. Actually, it’s more like a back alley, black market, underground, live-or-die “sport” like chicken-style, to-the-death drag racing or subterranean cage fighting. It’s fast, it’s furious, there are no commonly observed rules, and it’s definitely survival of the fittest. I knew all of this well before we moved toContinue reading “Learning How To Drive in Italy”

Moving Pets Abroad: The Great USDA Debacle

After five months of waiting, the paperwork for our move to Italy was complete (the first set, at least), the official passports and visas were in hand, the house was sold, the car was shipped, the other cars were sold, the Unaccompanied Baggage was on a plane, the Household Goods were on a boat, andContinue reading “Moving Pets Abroad: The Great USDA Debacle”

How We Moved to Italy – Part Three: Dream Board

A few years back, I got hooked on the dream board trend. For those of you who missed this cultural phenomenon, dream boards are part inspirational and part goal setting exercise in which you cut out magazine pictures of things you wanted to accomplish and combined them into a collage. My collage was covered with pictures of Italy.

How We Moved to Italy – Part Two: Feelings

That initial feeling of ecstatic glee lasted for weeks. I couldn’t believe it; we were moving to Italy! Italy. My lifelong dream was about to be realized! I was walking on air. Then, slowly, insidiously, something else started creeping in; a different kind of feeling entirely. It was a strange feeling; not anxiety or stress;Continue reading “How We Moved to Italy – Part Two: Feelings”

Benvenuto in Italia (Welcome to Italy)

I promised myself I would write every day in Italy. So here I am, DAY ONE, staring at the blinking cursor and suddenly finding I have no idea what to write about. Isn’t it funny? Even in the midst of one of the biggest changes and most unbelievable opportunities of my life, I could suddenlyContinue reading “Benvenuto in Italia (Welcome to Italy)”