11 January 2010

A quotation I like

"In dreams and in love there are no impossibilities."
--Janos Arany, Hungarian poet

07 January 2010

La Befana

Befana or the Epiphany is the Christian holiday celebrated where God made man in the person of Jesus Christ. La Befana is similar to how Americans celebrate Christmas with the stockings hanging only it is celebrated on the 6th of January. And if the kids are good, they get little treats and candy; but if they are bad, they get aglio ("garlic") and/or chunks of carbone ("coal"). I happened to receive a stocking with only two pieces of coal and plenty of chocolate; so I've been pretty good, it appears.

The point is it is yet another holiday. It seems like there has been one holiday after another. And it has taken me quite some time to get accustomed to buying all the grocieries I will need in advance of Sunday and any holidays. Because of the day of the week Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve fell this year, it is quite a challenge to buy enough fresh food to last so many days. The markets close early on the eve of the holiday; so it is necessary to have been to the market before lunch. Thursday afternoon, Friday Christmas and New Year's Day, and the day after Christmas is a holiday. Sunday the markets are all closed anyhow. Certain markets are closed Monday afternoons and sometimes even Tuesday afternoons. La Befana rolled around on Wednesday.

Either I misunderstood because of my broken Italian or was told incorrectly that "No, nothing will be closed for this holiday," but once again, I found myself unprepared with food to feed myself over the holiday. As my friend and roommate has reminded me that is why, at a minimum, we always have dried beans in the house. I have taken to buying fresh eggs, chicken, meat, salumi, bread, milk, yogurt, olives, fruits and vegetables, et cetera on an almost-daily basis.

No more major holidays until Pasqua ("Pasqua").  Phew!
-- Josslyn 'Giosalina'
Firenze, Italia

03 January 2010

Capodanno (New Year's)

The pouring rain doesn't keep people indoors to bring in the New Year in Italy. The main piazze of Florence have live music. The streets are a sea of people. Fireworks, firecrackers, and other homemade explosives are set off nonstop for hours.

New Year's celebration at Piazza della Signoria, 1.1.2008

The constant explosions makes me wonder about the soldiers at war. The air is thick. Bottles are thrown. Opportunists sell champagne on the street.

I am told Naples is even more crazy. New Year's here is a time of purging, and in Naples the people get rid of their old domestic appliances. Be careful where you walk as dishwashers and laundry machines are thrown out the windows to make room for the new.

I have now experienced and survived New Year's Eve in Italy.


The new year is when people make resolutions. Over the years, I have developed my own rituals. I take advantage of the lull in my workload to prepare my year-end documents for my business and taxes and get things ready for the new year preparing new forms, calendars, and paperwork.

More importantly, instead of resolutions, I like to reflect on the year that's coming to an end and map where it is I want to go in the year ahead (spiritually, emotionally, and otherwise) and plan my intentions. Yes, I am also a believer in making lists.

Before the New Year last year, I kept happening upon variations of a quote that I decided would be my theme for 2009. After all, nothing happens by mistake; right? I'm not sure who originally said it, but the quote I put at the front of my agenda is as Paulo Coelho says, "Wherever your heart is, there you will find your treasure." Because I had already decided that Italy was in my future for 2009 and Italy is where my heart is, the quote was perfect for me. And everything I was doing was leading me, like stepping stones, to my bigger goal of relocating to Italy. So I am proud to say that I followed through.

Because I am so busy living my dream, I actually haven't yet taken the time out to reflect deeply on 2009 and map my course for 2010, but in the coming days I shall do so because I believe strongly that without a map we won't find our way to get to where it is we want to go.

Every day is a new beginning and one more opportunity to start anew. The beginning of a new year is symbolic of a bigger change. And rather than make some silly resolution that will likely be broken before it has a chance to become a new habit, I hope you take the time to do your personal version of setting your intentions to achieve your dreams in 2010.

-- Josslyn 'Giosalina'
Florence, Italy

01 January 2010

Mio Compleanno (My Birthday)

Tuesday, 29 December, was my 50th birthday.  I know it's just a number, but this particular number has caused me to freak out a little bit, not that I actually feel my chronological age.  I hope I don't look my chronological age! But the number brings up some things that I have to face, like the aging process, which I accept not so well.

And yet this birthday was one of the best I remember ever celebrating.

My blog is for myself, although I hope my readers can relate to my posts.  And I still wonder about the direction of my private musings on a public forum. But, oh well, it's all about honesty. And like I said in the "About Me" section, my intention is to share some of my experiences, which includes the emotional and personal aspects of my experiences. So here goes some self-revealing aspects...

Historically, the December holidays and my birthday have not usually been a happy, joyous time of year for me. As a child, having my birthday during the winter holidays during the school break, I often felt forgotten and unrecognized; my teen and adult years, I experienced more of the same with people involved with their families and holidays and being tired of the holidays by the time the 29th rolled around or too hungover to remember; and also being in the tumultuous and rocky relationships I have had caused a lot of sorrow the holiday season often exaggerated. Not expecting much from friends and family, I would downplay my feelings so as not to feel the level of disappointment.

Deciding to finally make this transition to Italy for many, many reasons, one of which is to take my life in a direction I want it to take was the best birthday gift I could have given to myself. The morning of the 29th, I woke up to many meaningful and beautifully written emails, SMSs (text messages), and phone calls and received many more throughout the day. I felt good. Happy. Love in my heart and beaming. Went about my day. In a place I truly want to be, doing what I want to be doing. Visiting friends. Being remembered. Feeling like I do matter. I returned to my apartment and found this gorgeous and unexpected bouquet of flowers at my apartment door (photo) from one of my best friends, sent to me from Switzerland.

I asked for what I wanted, and I received what I wanted. It was a special birthday. Several new and old friends in Italy -- we had dinner together in a restaurant I enjoy and have a lot of fun at and ate two of my favorite dishes: Pepate di Cozze e Vongole (peperoncino hot in an Italian parsely with white wine broth overflowing with mussels and clams) and Bistecca Fiorentina (a seared on the outside, medium rare two-inch thick T-bone steak). We later went to a guitar club to hear live music.

A girl couldn't ask for much more. Truly one of my best birthdays ever, as we continue to make new memories, laughing and getting to know each other better and creating our own little family in Florence, Italy.

-- Josslyn 'Giosalina'
Florence, Italy