On October 1st, I walked through the door of my Kansas abode after two and a half weeks away.... this was the longest I had ever been from home since college. Instantly, an emotional wave washed over me knowing that this profound journey to Orvieto, Italy, the dreaming of which began two years ago, had finally come full-circle!
Ever since my first visit to the little city of Orvieto in 2010, I had firmly envisioned my return. As the day of departure to Italy grew ever near, my excitement and thrill mounted at the prospect of once again being enveloped and living thoroughly entrenched in my Italian self. What I did not fully realize, until my return, is that this journey bestowed upon me a precious treasure and a grace... a renewed zest for life! Something, I had sincerely begun to lose hope of ever regaining after many challenging and difficult months. These precious days had given me the strength to set aside paralyzing and strangling fears, worries, anxieties, and sadness that I found myself mired in. I returned home feeling happy and a deep down sense of joy, also having more physical energy and optimism than in any of the previous eight months.
There is something to be said for being in a place, surrounded by kind individuals that care. With thoughtful activities, a carefully planned schedule that included room for possibilities, creating art, encouraging words, sharing and listening, LOTS of smiles and laughter, peace filled moments, experiencing a true sense of community not only with your travel companions but with residents of the town, and getting back to the basics... I found awe in the simple pleasures.
The Italian way of life is slower paced, a mix of ancient and cutting-edge, and firmly embraces interaction with others in a personal way, face to face, which is something we are losing here in America. It is a true gift having the opportunity be in one place for an entire week, walking city streets that quickly become familiar paths, unburdened by a tight touristy schedule or confined to the space of a crowded tour bus watching the landscape go by. When you let go and live each day to the fullest not always trying to control or orchestrate each moment, you find old routines easily broken and new, better ones taking their place.... you fall into bed each night with the soul feeling satisfied.
It has been a struggle to regain solid footing upon re-entry. I have continued to linger and linger as long as possible in the reverie of this adventure... capturing bits of this sublime by staying a bit un-plugged and nestling into the coziness of home and the autumn season. I have also continued lingering in my memories with an assortment of reminders I carried home, the most cherished being the handwritten thank you notes and small gifts from my students and hosts, Kristin and Bill Steiner... these have a special place, front-and-center, on my desk in my studio. I love re-reading their messages, each and every day, feeling blessed for their presence in my life.
My other souvenir purchases were carefully selected, each to engage a particular sense as a sweet reminder... several aromatic perfumes to wear, delicious biscotti to savor, recipes to try from the cooking class with the famous chef Lorenzo, not one, not two, but five silken scarves to feel around my neck, the sweet strains of a music CD of Antonio Vivaldi's Interpreti Veneziani, wonderful leather journals and portfolios to record my thoughts, handmade papers, and art... precious pieces of jewelry to adorn the body, and limited edition etchings to decorate my home.
I don't have words that can adequately express the great excitement, and joy I feel knowing I will return to Orvieto the week of September 14-20, 2014 with Adventures In Italy to host my third workshop. I am utterly grateful to Kristin and Bill Steiner for the opportunity and am so so thrilled! as many of my same students have decided to return with me. I am so humbled and honored by their decision! And there is room for a few more to come along....