We've moved from Baltimore, Maryland USA to Venice, Italy in pursuit of living our dream!

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The Half Way Point

Ciao, tutti!

Many, many thanks for the lovely comments I've received here on the blog, via emails and FB comments regarding this 10 day Blog Challenge.  I know it's a bit different, not Venice related, and I truly appreciate you hanging in here with me.  I need to get refocused, back on track, and this is going to help me get there, to get me back into the habit of writing regularly and making more frequent posts on the blog as well.

This blog post is in response to Natalie Sisson's 10 Day Freedom Plan Blog Challenge Day 5. The task for the day is to come up with a daily plan that I will put into place and use every day to help move me towards meeting my goals.

I need to work every day to complete tasks to get our new blog ready to launch and also write content to post on the new blog, and then keep it up regularly going forward. You all know from experience with me on this blog that I get into periods where I am not writing at all, even though I may be doing cool things that are worthy of writing about. I let life get in my way and have gotten out of the habit of writing every day.

Natalie describes a time management activity called the Pomodoro technique (after the timer used to keep track of time which is in the shape of a bright red tomato- thus Pomodoro) which is useful to keep you focused and on task.  You break your work up into small manageable chunks of time, 25 minute increments. You work for 25 minutes straight with no distractions, then give yourself a short break. After the break, you return for another 25 minute block of work. You can continue this several times in succession. I like the way this works. It seems like a workable plan for me, so I've decided to put the Pomodoro plan into action.

My plan to implement this strategy has to begin on Monday, as I already have plans to be out of town for a long weekend beginning early Friday morning. I'm taking the 3 days off- no work for me. The new plan commences Monday. I'm going to commit to three 25 minute work segments each day. I tend to write better in the evenings than in the mornings, so I'll set aside time between 8-10 pm. If I'm diligent about keeping to this work schedule, I should meet my initial goal of launching the blog , and help me stick to to a schedule to add content regularly.

I know I've been talking a lot about this new blog I'm focusing on. While I've been putting my energies in that direction, I have also spent time planning content for The Venice Experience. I've given up the thought of giving this space a visual overhaul, that's just too much on my plate for now, however there is always lots to write about going on here in Venice, and I will be doing that. Definitely NOT abandoning this. It's been my baby since July of 2007.  The Venice Experience will be 10 years old in 2017.  I feel a big birthday bash coming on!

Ok, Blog Challenge #5 is officially completed. And I'm halfway through the 10 days. That's an accomplishment in and of itself. Taking the rest of the night off!


Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Buon compleanno, Mom

Today we're celebrating my mother's 89th birthday. She lives at the New Jersey shore, and she (knock  on wood) is healthy as a horse. We're hoping we're still doing birthday celebrations for her when she turns 100.  Happy Birthday, Mom!!

This blog post is in response to Natalie Sisson's 10 Day Freedom Plan Blog Challenge Day 4.  My challenge today is to identify 2-3 things I am good at, things Natalie calls my "Super Powers".  She says not to be humble about it.

I had to really struggle with this one. My first thought was to just chuck the whole thing. I don't have super powers. I don't even have any sort-of powers, let alone super ones.  I got the challenge email this morning, while I was at the beach, enjoying my last day of the season.  As I mulled over today's assignment, I was reminded of one of my Cabana-mates, Luca.  (Everyone rents a cabana for the season. I share one with about 18 other people). I promise this is all going somewhere. Just give me a minute.

 Luca is the 4 yr old son of one of the 18.  One morning as I was just arriving at our cabana, Luca and his family had already arrived. We said our hellos, and I went inside to change and gather up my stuff.  On my way out of the cabana, Luca stopped me. He opened his little mouth and started singing a song at the top of his lungs. His mother explained he was singing me a favorite song he had learned at his nursery school. She went on to further explain that he went to a Catholic school, thus all the references to God in the song, just in case I needed that information.  At the end of his song, he stood there with the biggest smile on his face.  Squeaky little 4 yr old voice and all, he stood and belted out that song for me, and then asked me to please wait one minute, he had something to show me. He ran into the cabana. One minute later he reappeared, dressed from head to toe in a Spiderman suit. It isn't Halloween. It's August. And Luca has transformed into "Speeder-Maan" (the correct pronunciation if you are speaking Italian).

These little huts are cabanas

Now back to my task for today's Blog Challenge.  Luca actually believed he was Spiderman. Once in that costume, he wasn't just little Luca anymore. He was a superhero.

I'm thinking I need a costume. If it works for Luca, maybe it will work for me.

I've tossed this around all day. Honestly, I don't possess any super powers. I have a couple of things I'm pretty good at, but I'm not setting the world on fire over here.

So here's what I'm good at. 1) I'm a good teacher, and 2) I'm not a quitter.

Now I better go make myself a costume.


Monday, September 12, 2016

A Perfect Day

Ciao, tutti!

This blog post is in response to Natalie Sisson's 10 Day Freedom Plan Blog Challenge Day 3

Have you been keeping up with my Blog Challenge I've gotten myself into ? Each day I receive an email describing the challenge of the day.

Day 1 we had to write about our 2 or 3 biggest roadblocks that prevent us from living our ideal life.
Day 2's task was to figure out our why. Why did we want to live a free-er lifestyle.

I received today's assignment earlier this morning, and I've been pondering it all day. See- I did admit to being the Queen of Procrastination. This one should have been easy, and yet I've put it off until now.  It's 10:24 pm and I can't put it off anymore.

The challenge for Day 3 is to describe my perfect day- from waking up to going to bed.  What am I doing, what does it look, feel, smell. Really, I got this.

Ok, here goes.
My morning always starts with a cup of hot tea. Decaf, black tea. In a mug  handmade by a local potter. The mug is a blue color that reminds me of the sea.

I'm not a real early riser. 7:30 is my usual time to start the day. However, in my perfect day (yes, I'm tweaking a bit here), I'd be up and out of the house earlier. 6:30 maybe.

I take a walk on the beach, carrying the mug of tea with me.

I once owned a beach house that had a fantastic outdoor shower. I'd love to have that shower every morning.

Upon returning from my walk and shower, I make a nice late breakfast for Mike and myself. Fruit- my favorites are pineapple, melon or berries, and an omelet with cheese and fresh tomatoes or peppers, fresh squeezed orange juice and more tea. Coffee for him.

Most of the rest of the day is spent writing. In my perfect day I'd be working on that book I've started but haven't finished. And I'd be doing that writing in a spot I love to be in. Something that looks like the photo below. I'd be on that veranda, overlooking the sea.

I love the sounds of the sea. The water lapping, the fresh smell of the ocean water, the rustle of the sea breezes. It calms me, helps keep me grounded.

The evening meal would be some seafood, perhaps shrimp and clams.  And ice cream for dessert. There would be some Frank Sinatra music playing somewhere, and candles on the veranda.

That would be a perfect day for me.

Since you're reading along with my daily blog challenges, I'm thinking it would be fun for you to join right in with me. Go ahead. What would your perfect day look like?  Share it in the comments for me, please.


Can't wait to see what Day 4 will bring.

PS- While I did not make as much progress with the new blog as I had planned today, I did get some work done on it.  After several hours of researching and demo-ing, I narrowed a theme down to two choices. Tomorrow I need to make a decision, get the theme (whichever it is) installed, and get at least some of the pages created.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Living La Dolce Vita- that's why

It's Day 2 of the 10-day blog challenge, and today's task is to write about WHY.   Why is it we want to live our ideal lifestyle, whatever that may be.

This blog post is in response to Natalie Sisson's 10 Day Freedom Plan Blog Challenge Day 2 

This one is easy for me. I get asked that same question almost every day. Why did we want to give up our lives in the US to move to Italy? And I don't have to hesitate about my response. I remember having to do a great deal of soul-searching 10 years ago when we were planning our new life on the other side of the Atlantic.  Then, and now, the WHY is the same.

We'd made several month-long vacations in Italy, most of them here in Venice. Upon re-entry to our normal lives, we always found ourselves missing the slower lifestyle of the Italian culture. We felt trapped by our careers, by our American lifestyle of working practically non-stop.  We were slaves to the American way of living, which we began to see as a culture of greed. We strived for bigger and better, more stuff. And the more "stuff" you had, the more you had to work to support it.  It Italy, we saw people exist with much less, but seemed to be much happier in their smaller existence. We envied that happiness, that joyful spirit we witnessed in Italy.

Rather than be envious of that lifestyle, we chose to adopt it. What was previously important to us- advancing in our careers, earning more money, having more, just wasn't making us happy anymore. And why would we want to spend our days being unhappy? It didn't make sense to us anymore. What became much more important was living simpler, living healthier, living stress-free.

We had to make some tough decisions about getting rid of cars, houses, stuff and learn to live with much less. Doing away with all that stuff was a burden lifted off our shoulders. It was liberating. It gave us our life back.

And so the Why is something I have no trouble answering. To live "la dolce vita". The sweet life.


Saturday, September 10, 2016

Turning summer dreams into reality

Ciao, tutti!

Summer is winding down, and I'm not particularly happy about it at all. I have just 4 more days to enjoy my mornings at the beach. During the months of August and September I've been able to spend most mornings over on the Lido enjoying some sun, sand and surf. Time to just do nothing, relax, read, swim, think, dream.  Zen time. I needed it.

BTW- the photo above is the view from my beach chair each morning. 

For some time now I've been wanting to write about our travels more, but I couldn't bring myself to. This blog has always been about Venice, and I haven't wanted to change that. Mike and I have had incredible trips since we've been living in Italy,  but I haven't been sharing any of that. 

My morning beach time has given me the opportunity to do some dreaming about how to make that happen. It's time for me to turn that dream into a reality. The other day I received an email inviting me to participate in a blog challenge program designed to help you find the path to the lifestyle you wish to live. It seemed like exactly what I needed at just the right time. I signed up. 

And so, this blog post is in response to Natalie's 10 Day Freedom Plan Blog Challenge Day 1. The challenge for today is to write about 2 or 3 challenges that keep you from obtaining your goals. My list exceeded 3, but for the sake of keeping you poor readers from running for the hills, I'm going to stop at 2. 

#1  - I am the Queen of Procrastination. I'll find every excuse in the book to waste time. And my best excuse is always "It's nap time!"  If I didn't just twitter (NO- not that kind of Twitter) away a good portion of every day I can't even imagine the things I could accomplish. I want to create a new blog just for travel writing, and that is going to take work on my part. I need to buckle down and just do it. 

#2 - I second guess myself all the time, and end up convincing myself that I can't do things I want to. That I'm not good enough.  I don't want to talk myself out of giving travel writing/blogging every bit of energy so that I do it, and do it well. 

Whew. I got that down on paper.  I've completed the challenge for today. To think about and write down the challenges that keep me from accomplishing my goals. It's a bit intimidating to bare my flaws in front of you. Please don't think too poorly of me! (I'm not too thrilled with myself as I read what I've written.)

Today I also tackled another task that I've been sitting on for the last few weeks. I actually have made a little bit of progress on the new blog.  I had started one, attempted to learn the dreaded WordPress, hit my head against the wall a few times with it, and left the blog sitting in it's infancy state.  To get the features I wanted I was going to have to move the blog to a self-hosting site. That got done today!  I'm one small step closer to getting this new blog up and running.  With some luck, and more than a little hard work, www.HendersonsOnTheRoad.com will be launched in the coming weeks. I'll plan a kick-off party.   

In the meantime, I've got 9 more days to this exciting 10 day Blog Challenge to get through, and a WordPress class to complete! 

Can't wait to see what tomorrow's challenge assignment will be. Stay tuned!