Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Almost enough time

Here we are, with Christmas just around the corner, quite literally! Even though it is the same time, every year, I always seem to be caught off guard. I'd still like to run out and get one more thing, but am not sure that I will have time...

As far as work goes, people are still coming in, begging for their gifts to be done on time, and me squeezing them in to make as many people happy as possible. I love that look of appreciation on their faces. I hate that they've left their gift buying to the last minute, (a chuckle arises at the realization that I too, am one of them). As I sit here, I hear an advertisement on the radio for my jewelry store, and the urgency of the season returns. Upon my arrival at work this morning, I know that it will be a day full of energy, favors, and rushing around. I love this time of year, when the workday goes by in the blink of an eye. This year it seems that the rush has started a bit late. With the pressure on and time dwindling, I find that I don't feel overwhelmed. I do what I can, and if I can't, I except that. This is my stress less week, and whatever I am doing, it seems to be working.

Justin went home on Tuesday, essentially giving me more time. Time to wrap the gifts that I have already gotten, and time to myself, which is always nice, although not very often taken when the opportunity arises. When I go to work tomorrow, I will leave directly to go to Helena where I will spend my first Christmas with his family, meeting his sister for the first time, and playing plenty of Euker. My time in Helena will be short lived, as I will arrive by 5pm on Christmas eve, and I must leave very early on the 26th to make it back to work in Missoula.

I am very thankful that I will be with Justin and his family this holiday season, while my own family is hunkering down in Iowa to wait out a winter storm. It's ironic that while I live in Montana, 20 hours from home, I am not spending my Christmas alone, and my sister, who lives less than two hours from home will be forced to spend it without family, due to the weather. So, Michelle, I will be thinking of you quite often on Friday, and I'll see you then, albeit via web cam.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Winter blues

Yep, I believe that I do have them, those dreadful Winter blues. I suppose taking my Italian vacation at the onset of the darker season here in Montana didn't help. I was happy to be back as I had missed Justin and Oliver, (and my flat iron), but I do believe that this was the first vacation that I had ever taken that I didn't miss work. I wasn't anxious to get back to my routine, albeit a pretty relaxed one at that, as I had grown comfortable in the unknown.

Anyway, back to the point of this post. I'm a pretty upbeat person on any given day, but lately I seem to have a hitch in my giddy up. Some would say that I am in a rut, and I do believe that is correct. The only problem with this is that I have never gotten into this kind of a funk, and I'm not quite sure what has brought it on (besides the obvious lack of sunshine) so I'm equally unsure of how to get out of it. A major difference in my routine is that my running has suffered since my return. I am still running a bit slower, and in the last couple of weeks I have missed several runs, mostly due to it being so terribly cold here, and I can't run on a treadmill very well. This frustrates me to no end! I push myself while I am running and it just doesn't seem to help. I have even started going to the gym several times a week to see if it is a strengthening problem, but that will take some time to develop. On the upside here is that I have started taking a spinning class. I absolutely love it! It's an intense, constant workout for 60 minutes, and I find that my mind focuses 100% on it, just like when I am running. I feel great when I am done with the class, and am in a great state of mind as well.

Next on the potential list of causes is work. It has been unbearably slow with repairs and custom work, so much of my time there I am doing busy work. This is also frustrating, as I have a million other things that I could be doing aside from work. However...I could also be 'playing' while still working. What I should be doing is designing and working on my wax carving skills. Should. I just can't, or won't get motivated to do it. The real problem with this is that I desperately want to. I am the only one that knows my true potential, and it is there, locked deep within me somewhere. I was motivated the other night while Justin and I were out to dinner with another couple and they asked to see my jewelry. Justin knew everything about each piece, and had the same enthusiasm about them that I had had when I was making them. How do I get that back? I know how, or at least I think I do...I must look at work the way I did when it was first new to me, not as work, but as play.

Maybe a change in they way I look at my world will help all of this.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Real life

I can't believe it's been a month since my last 'real life' post. I've been so busy editing photos and writing about my trip that I haven't had time reflect on what's been going on lately.

The most noteworthy thing is, I have accepted an offer on my house back in Iowa. My ex and I decided to change realtors in October, and signed with a new company 3 1/2 years to the date after we put an offer on it, and exactly 18 months to the date that we put it on the market. That was October 26; we had our first and only offer on November 10, while I was in Italy. There are a lot of emotions associated with this, first being relief, then sadness, and then anger. Relief because I will no longer be paying what equates to two rent payments per month. With this relief also comes a sense of freedom. I am no longer tied to something that caused me so much excitement, only to end in sadness and frustration. I now feel that I will be able to travel more (now that the bug has bitten me), save more for my future, and pursue other interests. The sadness is because I really, really loved my house. As soon as we saw it in the Spring of 2006, I could already see a family there, my family. Things don't always work out the way you plan, and in many ways, that is also a relief. Anger is a horrible emotion, but one that is also tied to this house, so in that way, I am also glad to be done with it. Having tried to tell myself that I am not angry with my ex for what he did, I still am.
I am angry with myself, for not seeing what was really going on, for not making better choices. I guess it is better to acknowledge something than to deny it.

What better time of the year is there to have a feeling of closure, to be able to settle into the life that I am already living without the distraction of my baggage? A time for renewal, and forgiveness.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Saved the best for last; wine tour

Upon leaving Rome, we were planning on heading down to Naples. After considering how much time we would have there (a day is all) we decided to head to Sienna. We hopped on the Eurostar train again and made it to Florence around 3pm. Our intentions for our last full day in Italy was to go on a wine tour out of Sienna. While trying to decided how to get there from Florence, we got to thinking, why not just stay there again, as we would have to come back through Florence to make it to Pisa to catch our flight anyway.

Back to Archi Rossi we went, where we were set up in an eight bunk room. We signed up for a wine tour Shaun had recommended that would take us to San Gimignano, Siena, and Chianti. Before supper, we headed towards the river for sunset, that was very uneventful, as had all of them so far. Back at the hostel, we ran into Stephen, whom had been one of our roommates in Rome. We enjoyed his company again for this dinner, and our last dinner the next night.

Wine Tour
Into a full eight seat Mercedes van we went, heading through Florence's rush hour. Once on the interstate, our guide, and driver sped around other cars, swerved in and out of lanes and kept us on the edge of our seats. Our first stop was San Gimgnano and my breath was take
n away! This is the side of Italy that I had wanted to see. Cobbled streets led us around this towered village, with quaint shops and cafes all around. At 10am it was very quiet, with hardly anyone out and about, the air cool and crisp, and just a light haze on the horizon. We stopped as a group for treats, picture opportunities, and information. Our guide was intelligent, humorous, and lighthearted. He took us into little nooks and crannies that we would have otherwise missed, including the entrance courtyard to a museum that had frescoes on the walls and a well.

View of countryside around San Gimignano

Next up was a stop at a castle, I think. I don't even know the name of the town that was near it. This wasn't a planned stop, however, since we were running ahead of schedule, we stopped for a few moments to take a couple of pictures.

When we arrived in Siena, we met up with another tour group of about the same size for lunch, and then a guide took us all around the city. Siena was much busier than San Gimignano, but then again, it is quite a bit larger as well. We went into one church here, and it was pretty impressive, albeit a bit plain. As many churches as I had been in on this trip, I just couldn't get used to how large they were. All of the churches that I had been in back home were large as well, but they were filled with pews for the congregation to sit on, which made the space look smaller. From there we made our way into the city, making stops along the way to take photos of the great vistas that Siena had to offer.

We made our way to Piazza del Campo, the stage of the famous Palio race. This is where everyone was. At 2pm it was packed with tourists, locals, and us! In fact, we as we were leaving this area, I recognized someone, in Siena! fact, it was Louise, who was also staying at Archi Rossi back in Florence. We had had breakfast with her that morning and she had mentioned her plans of going to Siena that day as well. Such a small world, even in Italy!

Catedrale di Santa Maria

Back with our original group, we headed towards the Chianti region, making a pit stop to take photographs of vineyards and surrounding areas. By this time, we were still on back roads, and our driver was still driving fast and weaving in and out of traffic. I guess you could say he was fitting the Italian stereotype of a crazy driver. I have never experienced car sickness, but why not have my first bout of it in Italy? I felt nauseous and light headed, and couldn't wait to get to the vineyard and be still for a bit. Once we arrived at Fattoria Sant' Appiano, we were given a quick rundown of how they make their wine. We had the luxury of tasting five wonderful wines, ranging in price from 8 euros to 25 euros per bottle. I chose to bring home a bottle of Chianti Superiore Cottaccio 2005 that was 18 euros. I look forward to the special occasion that will qualify in opening it.

Our new friends from Hong Kong and Austrailia

Needless to say, I can't wait to go back to Italy again, although, the next time I go, I will try to visit the smaller villages and avoid the larger, more touristy cities.