Slow Travel in Style

September 30, 2009

Barcelona is rapidly becoming one of my favorite cities on the planet, thereby bumping Chicago down a notch. The pace of life matches your Barcelona 2009 032heartbeat as you stroll along the cobblestone streets. It is clean, friendly, and most importantly for a Virginia gal like me, warm.

My sister and brother-in-law joined my husband and me on a long weekend to Spain to investigate a different culture and, quite frankly, to rest from the rigors of our daily lives. It was worth every minute and penny we spent.

Back in the spring, my sister said she loved visiting us in Munich, but that she wanted to see a different part of Europe, too. So she suggested we book a flight somewhere, anywhere, warm in September. At first I hedged, standing next to the ruins of our dry-rotted porch, thinking of all the expenses our house, my business travel, and daily life required.

Then it dawned on me that the power of intention is much stronger than fear. So I smiled into the phone and said “Yes. Let’s do it!”

We visited museums, restaurants and plazas, soaking up the sun’s rays reflecting off the Mediterranean and realized what a great thing slow travelBarcelona 2009 084 can be. We took a siesta every day, resting for our late-night dinner and allowing the impressions of the day to sink in.

And when we celebrated our farewell dinner, my sister leaned in and asked “When are we doing our next power of slow trip?”

Stockholm, we said, with a blend of sauna in the woods meets city. She’s already bought the travel guides. Until then, we will dream of our next slow adventure and bask in the poetry of intention at work.

The Gift of a Year

September 4, 2009

The phone jangled just as I was shutting down my computer. It was my sister, fresh off her summer beach vacation. She was brimming with ideas and excitment.

“You’ve got to read this book: The Gift of a Year: How to Achieve the Most Meaningful, Satisfying, and Pleasurable Year of Your Life by Mira Kirschenbaum. It’s changed my life!!” She proceeded to tell me how the book giftlays out a year-long plan to do what you’ve always wanted to do, but never had the guts/time/energy/money to do it. With compelling case studies of people who took time off for a year to travel, paint or pursue other passions, I got excited for my sister who decided to travel more. In fact, we made plans for our pending trip to Barcelona week after next right then and there.

halfwaySo when I received a copy of  Halfway to Each Other: How a Year in Italy Brought Our Family Home by Susan Pohlman, I was enthralled by her story. She took her husband and two kids to explore life in Italy for a year. The author, who was on the brink of divorce from her then radio producer husband, decided to give her married life another chance by moving her entire existence to the outskirts of Genoa. I fell in love with Susan the moment I cracked the book’s spine. Her strength (and admitted weaknesses) make you want to call her up for a cup of cappuccino and a chat.

Susan and her family indeed gave themselves a gift of a year and by the end of it, and the book itself, the reader is richer for their experiences and for the opportunity to explore his or her own chance at renewal by shaking things up just a little bit.

You needn’t move to a foreign country to make a difference in your life.

The power of slow dictates that we periodically reevaluate how we are spending our personal bank account of time. For the two authors above it is clear they dedicated some of theirs to a worthwhile cause of self-discovery and joy. We readers are all the richer for their efforts.

Right on Time

May 29, 2009

“Oh no!” my friend’s email cyber-wailed. “I forgot your birthday…” Actually, she had not. She had remembered right on time.

prague's clockI spent seven glorious days on a Spanish island with two of my favorite people in the world: my best friend and my husband (my other best friend). Completely offline, I wouldn’t have gotten my friend’s email any sooner. In fact, on my birthday itself I had a hard time capturing the moment. It was as if I tried to pay particular to that elusive something just beyond reason, tantamount to expression yet unutterable in itself. I decided the whole week would be my birthday. What’s in a day when it can be cherished in the hours or months or years you grant it?

My best friend and I have always been in synch (in fact, her birthday is two days after mine). Externally our lives look very different. She is a single professional with her own business just outside of Washington. I am a married work-from-home writer with two intensely challenging adorable kids. But we always seem to contact the other just in the moment we need it most.

There is something deeply pleasurable about living in the knowing that everything happens at the exact time it should. What would our lives be like if we were always ‘right on time’? Not in the clock-sense, but in the measurement of knowingness?

Pretty liberating, I’d say.