Friday, June 2, 2006
I feel like I've been on a journey all my life, similar to the one I'm on
now, traveling from port to port looking for the unattainable, perfect life,
trying to find adventure and the hidden treasure amongst all the discovered
treasures of the world.
Well, now I think I've finally started the discovery of the real me and I'm
quite happy with what I find.
I sit at the balcony of my stateroom on the Norwegian Jewel and look out on
to a cargo port. They are loading containers as I write these lines.
And how do I feel knowing that Florence is within my reach, all that art, history, and beauty, to be savored is only an hour and a half away, with me sitting on the ship looking out at quite an unappealing site, and what do I think about my
I love it. I think I have it great.
If someone had asked me just last year, I never thought I would be feeling
this way about my current situation. But today I can philosophize and say
that just the fact that I have been traveling for the past week from one
Italian port to the next and being able to go up to hilltop towns and see
things I have never seen before is a great gift. I know that last year if
we were to do this cruise I wouldn't have been able to enjoy a quarter of
what I enjoyed on this trip.
Maybe part of my contentment is due to knowing that I can come back to
Florence anytime, and the time I spend with my husband is more precious than
any world wonder I might have an opportunity to see. Knowing how valuable
it is to be together and healthy and in good spirits.
It feels like I have been on a quest to find peace and contentment for
years. I have been searching for the perfect life. My idea of the perfect
life involved looking perfect and doing the most appealing things by most
people's standards and feeling what I'm suppose to be feeling as told by
what I read or saw.
Now, do I look perfect, the perfect body with the beautiful face. Hardly,
when I look at myself in the mirror, I see a woman of 40 who the years
haven't been able to render away but the damage is there. The lines and the
spots and the tired expression…..but with all that I also see the knowing,
understanding expression, the sense of serenity to be felt.
I now understand that there is no perfect world as seen in fiction. Behind
every picture perfect body and face there is a 'not so perfect' detail that
would scar the picture if it could be seen; but that's ok since to each is own. We are not all made the same way; we all have one of a kind qualities that sets us
up differently from one another. We can't expect our lives to be the
The cause for my happiness is not a new found appeal within me, but the
discovery of a more understanding, more knowing and contented woman. This
woman is ok with who she is, and what she is. She might want more for
herself or her family but the things she wants are for a better quality of
life. The kind of things she yearns for are for the future happiness and
well being of her family.
Saturday, May 20, 2006
It's a holiday weekend here in Turkey and we've taken advantage of this to come and visit our family in Istanbul. On this beautiful spring holiday, I had an unsettling revelation, the story of which I would like to share with you.
I woke up yesterday morning at 6.30 to the sound of my son's alarm which he had forgotten to turn off. I was a little annoyed because I had wanted to sleep late for once. After I got up to turn it off, I couldn't go back to sleep so I decided to start my day.
I have to stop here and tell you a little about myself. I look at life as an adventure that at the outset you might not have any control over but, the direction and the outcome of which you may be able to guide and enjoy depending on your attitude. I like to think that the key to happiness is in our own perceptions of the world around us and how we approach that world. For me each day is a new beginning.
Having said all that, I like waking up before anybody else does in the mornings and having some time for myself.
I perceive each morning as full of new promises; as I wake up I feel a sense of purpose, a little thrill flowing through my veins for what the day has in store for me. I have a list of tasks that await my attention but most times I get up with excitement to just start living. Even when I'm not particularly too keen on getting out of bed, I can get myself psyched about my morning cup of coffee to be enjoyed as I gaze out my window.
Especially when we're traveling I find sleep to be a nuisance and long to be out and about as soon as possible. After all, there are exhibits to see, museums to visit, streets to explore or at the very least meals to plan.
So, I woke up yesterday morning, got out of bed and after my shower, I started to pick up and put away the things we left out the night before. As I was doing all these, I kept on thinking something is not right, something is missing.
Then I realized that it was the lack of enthusiasm within myself…..
Where had my exhilaration gone to?
Why was I not eager about being here and all that I had planned to do?
Had I lost my vitality, my spirit?
All of a sudden I felt the weight of the world on my shoulders, was this about age?
Was this what being old felt like?
Will I feel this way every morning for the rest of my life?
I sat down and started to think and get myself excited for the day ahead. It was spring in Istanbul, one of the most beautiful times to be here. The roses were in bloom and the weather was perfect. If I closed my eyes I could imagine the ripples, see the glimmer on the surface of the Bosphorous, I could almost hear the cry of the seagulls. There was an exhibition at the Sabanci Museum that was here from Lisbon for the very first time that I absolutely had to see. Since this was museum week, they were going to be open till midnight. Considering how long I have dreamt of this occasion I should have been jumping for joy.
But, I wasn't…………
Anyway, our usual day started and I went through the motions but I was just not myself. Finally,my husband took me out to a fish restaurant near the water. I didn't complain, I will go anywhere near the water, I find nothing soothes my soul like the sound of the waves or the smell of the sea. We went to Sariyer, a small fishing village within Istanbul. After sharing an enjoyable meal with a small bottle of wine (that I consumed all by myself) I had stopped fretting about the changes in my soul or my newfound maturity.
I was enjoying the moment.
In the evening we couldn't decide what we wanted to do so I suggested to go to a bar I had read about that is suppose to have some decent music and a great view.
Our entertainments are usually quite sedate. We go out to dinner, we enjoy each other's company, we have meaningful or fun conversations, but going out to bars is not our usual forte.
We look for good food over fancy, a good view over trendy in our preferences at restaurants.
In order to avoid disappointments we usually go to places we are already familiar with or recommended by a source we trust.
So, this was new territory for us.
We arrived at this bar around 9.30 and we were the first customers there. The poor waiter that greeted us seemed agitated and he didn't seem to know what to do with us. We sat at a table outside looking at the Bridge and started to order. I think we played the part of the middle aged couple out for something different, to the hilt.
Don't any of you raise your eyebrows at me; this particular bar turned out to be a hang out for college students and teenagers. We were expecting our nephew to show up with our 15 year old son any moment.
To get back to my story; I wanted something warm to begin with so I ordered tea, my husband wanted something to eat and that got our waiter even more tense. Finally they were able to provide something from the restaurant downstairs; we were content. As the evening wore on kids started to arrive and we realized we were a little on the mature side for this crowd.
We still enjoyed ourselves though.
After my tea was finished, the waiter asked if I wanted anything more, I thought about it and I ordered a vodka mellon.
Of course he didn't know what it was and he asked me if he mixed vodka and mellon and I said yes.
My husband shook his head, gave me this look and said "Why do you do this every single time as if you're a tourist and you can't figure out what this place is capable of providing? Can't you see they are not used to clientele like us?"
I defended myself by saying "This is a bar, I thought they would know how to mix cocktails."
So he went into a long list of things I could've said instead, to find out what they were capable of managing. I agreed to take these into consideration, the next time I might be out somewhere new; but the waiter did manage to get my order right.
When I took my first sip of my drink I had to smile and make a confession that almost had my husband sprawled on the floor.... this was the first time I was ordering this particular drink in my life.
I liked it. So I just laughed at my husband's incredulous expression and told him that the next time a customer comes in looking for something new the waiter would probably suggest a vodka mellon; he agreed I was right.
I was happy,
I felt like my old self again.
I had tried something new that I was curious about.
It turned out to be an addition to the font of knowledge at this particular establishment that in turn was going to improve their service in the future.
I had managed to amaze and shock my husband once more.
I was back..........
I guess I hadn't lost it after all.
In the end we told our waiter that it was past our bedtime, paid the bill and left to get coffee at the Starbucks next door.
And how did you wake up this morning, you might ask? I was dressed and ready to go at 8.00........
All the museums are open till midnight tonight and my husband promised to accompany me to at least one. What more can a girl ask for?
I wish for exuberant and joyous mornings to all of you.
Wednesday, May 10, 2006
May 10 2006
I've recently had an enlightening experience about the frailty and unpredictability
of life. I've also witnessed the power and perseverance of women once
Not long ago, ten days to be exact, I was sitting here thinking what I could
write about. It must have been a slow newsday since I found myself
concentrating on the rain outside my window and it's affects on nature and
people. These reflections didn't last for long though, by some twist of
fate and responsibility, I found myself in a hospital room caring for a
beloved relative who was fighting for her life.
The colors of the flowers or the hues of the leaves didn't hold much
significance anymore. The only thing of importance was the ordeal this
cherished and benevolent, special someone was going through and the help we
could provide in her recovery.
Gone were the meaningless worries of who said or did what to her of a few
weeks ago, in their place were realities about loosing a limb or the
uncertainty of needing more therapy. I found myself in the despairing
position of trying to comfort her. I wasn't alone in my endeavors, I
realized that this individual whom we loved and cared about so much, had a
bevy of friends and acquaintances who cared about her wellbeing as well.
There were a flock of women enfolding her, in her time of need, come to
We were surrounded by women from all stages of life. Some were perturbed,
some thoughtful, some compassionate........ They all had different stories
of joys and sorrows, hidden behind their carefully concealed, lined facades.
Most left these at the door, like a cloak they shed and entered with
different expressions. I witnessed true friendships, sincerity and
constancy in the countenance of these women. Even though there were those
who were there out of duty, most came out of love and concern.
It dawned on me then that women are incredible creatures; nothing can stand
in our way through our loyalty, ability and strength. I tried to imagine a
man in the same situation but failed. They always seem to be the ones that
are in need of attention and caring (mostly provided by women.)
Whoever said that women are the weaker sex was sadly mistaken. As long as
we realize the strength we have within ourselves and our relationships with
our fellow women, we shall not be overcome.
I don't know if we can find a bright side to this ordeal but I can only
guess that the security of being surrounded by those who care might be a
small ray of sunshine in the darkness of despair.
All didn't end bad after all; the doctors assured us that due to her age our aunt would be fine after the operation without anymore therapy. I never thought to find old age as the silver lining behind any cloud (it goes to show how much I know.)
I feel like this has been a rite of passage of sorts for me. I now belong
to the proud ranks of experienced, capable, mature women as oppose to the
care free, spirited days of my youth. This does not mean an end to my 'seize the moment' attitude but the beginning of a more aware and watchful existence.
I still say "Carpe Diem".
As the famous 17th century poet Robert Herrick says:
Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old Time is still a-flying;
And this same flower that smiles today,
Tomorrow will be dying.