Finding Peace

With so many things happening around me it is difficult to quiet down the white noise in my head and be alone with my thoughts for a few minutes.  It is difficult to think one thought at a time and concentrate… really concentrate and hear my own heart. 

OK so yes, that does sound hokey…I tend toward the extreme with most things, especially in words of expression…so shoot me.

Anyway, My moments if qiuet don't look like those cool Corona commercials where the guy throws his cell phone in to the ocean or the calgon take me away episodes. They are more like sitting outside with a good book and my cat on my lap, and I zone out for a bit and my mind goes to this place.  Or walking to the Frutta e Vedura on the corner and thinking about an event that happened.  Or the calm after a crying jag when you catch your breath and get very still.  Or the best  sitting outside after dark, smelling the jasmine in my yard and looking up to the sky and feeling so small in this big world and wondering what is my part in it all.

Yes, I know, hokier still… shut up.

But it is in these moments when I let the quiet in… I still my world and let the rest fade to black.  I am alone with myself, and comfortable there.  That is big for me.  I have grown to like me – as I am, neurotic, headstrong, giving, sacrastic, loud, anal retentive and cluttered  (often at the same time – go figure).  I didn't always like me much, but my thirties have brought me to my peace (read about methods of getting there).  My peace is in the acceptance of who I am today, and the fact that that is not necessarily the whole story or the future defined – it just is.  My peace is in the understanding that I am an evolving being, that can change what I don't like, accept what I am unwilling to change, or be unwilling to change because I disagree with you that there is a problem.  I can be silly, arrogant, bossy, vain, unselfish to a fault or totally self absorbed and it is ok… as long as I know that is what I am, or accept what I have done. I can accept responsibility, face the music, disregard the judgement of others, learn from my mistakes, dance to my own tune, beat my own drum and jump in mud puddles… I can… I can… I CAN.  That is my peace.

Military Funeral Protests

I don't often get a great deal of news here in Sardegna… just enough to know the big headlines most of the time. It is not easy to find an English language newspaper.  Occasionally one can find the International Herald Tribune, which gives the big picture news around the world, and is just enough to know what is going on… but in my town of Arzachena you cannot get this paper either, and finding it in the next closest town of Palau is hit or miss… usual miss.  I mostly get news from the internet, and occasionally if the tv is working (which is not often in my house) from CNN or MSNBC reports.  If something peaks my interest I log on to the internet and search for the subject and research it in greater detail. 

Today the story of the Kansas baptist church that is protesting the funerals of American soldiers was my topic of choice.  I have heard, read and seen reports of this situation and was disgusted by it.  It is not just that my husband serves in our nation's military, that sparks my anger, it is general humanity, which apparently these people do not have.

Months ago when I learned of the motorcycle group that was shielding the families of fallen soldiers from seeing the Westboro Baptist Church protesters at the funerals of their loved ones. The Patriot Guard, http://www.patriotguard.org/, is dedicated to allowing these families to mourn their loved ones in peace, without having to see or hear the disgusting and horrible things these protesters say and do. 

The ACLU is now supporting WBC and their First Amendment right to freedom of speech in their protests.  While I agree that our country allows for freedom of speech and that it is a vital right that must be protected, I dispise the distortion of morality that these people are spewing. 

I don't care what your political or sexual preferences are, I don't care if you support the war or don't, I don't care about what ever your opinions are about anything… funerals should be sacred, they should be private, they should be free from this insanity.  Not because of law or politics… because it is right… because it is human…. because to do otherwise is unforgivable and wrong. 

I respect the right of personal views, and the right to protest, and the abiity to say and do things that others find  offensive… even when the message is as amazingly ignorant, inflamatory and reprehensible to me as the one the WBC promotes.  But when a mother, father, friend or family is burying their dead, it is a private matter. 

These soliders are not even the specific targets of the WBC.  After visiting their website, which turned my stomach, I learned that their objective is to oppose homosexuality, to put it much more kindly than they do.  One only has to read their URL to know they are incindiary, fanatical and extreamist. (I will not print it here, as I do not wish to promote them or to give them any greater an adudience or any further publicity).  They believe that our fallen service men and women are divine retribution for the military and our government toleration of homosexuality.  I am not sure how this link was made or how they tie it all together, I was too repulsed to keep reserching their website.  I find it difficult to understand how members of the military, who sacrifice so much to defend the freedoms of all of us – including the WBC – are the targets of their protests.  Their voices are not being raised to protest the invasion of Iraq or to bring our troops home.  They use slogans like ' Thank god for dead soliders' , '… for IEDs', '….for 9/11'… it is sickening and incomprehesnible to me how these words or their protests make any sense for their cause.  I don't like or agree with their cause, but even so… I don't get how they connect the dots to make these protests the pinnicle of their statements.

 I salute the Patriot Guard, in all their efforts, not only to help, protect and honor but also in keeping their mission non viloent, keeping their mission on point and getting involved to change the laws of our land in a productive, partriotic and very American way.  The WBC should take a lesson… when you want change, there are constructive, productive and effective ways to do it… then there are the destructive, ignorant and repulsive methods. 

Not enough can be said about this issue, but I will stop here and encourage everyone to research this issue to learn more, to support the Patriot Guard and take a lesson from them… they are truly great human beings.

The 2006 Turino Olympics -Getting There

Ok, in the last riveting missive I told you of my days leading up to my departure for the Olympics. Now for my actual trip to Torino.

I was travelling with my friend Barbara.  She too is in her 30s, no kids and wanting to take advantage of this time here in Italy to soak it all in.  With us, another friend, Mary and her 3 boys.  We took two cars and hopped the ferry from the Golfo Arancio to Livorno.  Now first off I was not aware of our intended arrival city… thinking Genoa was closer, I assumed we would ferry there.  Our plans were being coordinated during the Christmas and New Year's holidays.  Each of us was out of town at some point and the others took over the bookings and plannings.  As Barbara and Mary were driving I figured they would take care of the ferry reservations which require specific info about your car. 

 It appears that the trip to Genoa was much more expensive, so instead of a two hour trip to Torino, we had a 5 hour trip ahead of us… into the Alps… in February.  Sounds, interesting?  So we boarded the ferry on the evening of February 15th.  Had a bite to eat and went to our cabin to sleep.  This ferry was much smaller than the ones I have taken from Olbia, which made for a wild ride.  The seas were very rough, and it was rockin and rollin all night.  Barbara and I got real punchy and were like girls at a sleep over after a while, giggling and crackin jokes.  (which the kids, who were in the next cabin told us in the morning, kept them awake all night).  Mary slept like a baby… but she has three sons, I think it comes with the territory to block out anything and everything that doesn't imply death to catch some sleep.  But I digress…

 In the morning Barbara and I were hurting, tired, nauseous and feeling miserable.  We got off the ferry and started heading from Livorno (just south west of Florence) to Torino (in the north west of Italy).  We started off ok… just a few minor detours when we missed and exit or a turn off. In Italy this can be a test of faith to find your direction and or correct for an error.  Road signs are of course in Italian, and they are pretty vague,and often misleading.  Most major roads (autostrade) have a number assigned, just like home… but A26 may also have an E10 designation which may turn into E14 after a while… very few signs designate N, E, S or W… but rather give city names.  Then there are the ever wonderful circles which have four or five branches and the signs for each city are listed just at the turn off, so you must go around it 6 times to figure out which one you want.  More often you will find that the sign before the circle indicates the city you are looking for, but the signs in the circle don't include that city.  The reason for this is simply to screw with the tourists… I firmly believe this.  I am certain that their are hidden cameras at these circles which record us in our cars, pointing, looking up and down from maps, arguing, circling, circling and cursing our heads off, which are then played for the populous on a prime time tv show for all the Italians to laugh at the stupid Americans!! I am sure it is true.  Anyway… the other problem is that when you make a wrong turn, you may have to drive on an autostrade for miles and miles to find an exit, and then you must pray that it has another on entrance back to the autostrade or you will end up driving around the back roads until you find your way back on… here you will probably encounter more circles as well.  If you are not on the autostrade and need to turn around after realizing you took the wrong branch of a circle you will need ot drive for miles and miles to find a place to turn around.  The roads are narrow and windy so you can't just do a quick u-turn without risking your life, many of the places on the side of the road look big enough to turn in, but most of them are mud!! and we all know how well I have learned to stay out of the FANGO.

 After having to turn around and around and taking the wrong arm of the circle a few times, we figured out how to get to the town we were staying in.  But our directions were a bit cryptic, so we called the inn and got directions… and drove a bit, and called and got directions, and drove a bit, and called and got directions…. for over an hour, to find a place within 5 miles of where we were.  This town is a little itsy, bitsy, teeny, weeny place, up a very steep hill, that has some of the most amazingly narrow switchbacks I have ever seen.  Finally we found the place, the owner was out front waiting for us.  I am sure he recognized us from the streaming video taken of us at the circles hours earlier – I am sure of it!!!!! We proceed down the narrowest, steepest mud drive way, between 3 old houses from the 1500's, pulling in the side mirrors not to aid them in their crumbling by scraping them along the outer walls.  We got out of the car – 7 hours after arriving in Livorno (remember this should have been a 5 hour drive), and stretched, turned to take in the most spectacular snow capped mountain view. 

It was gorgeous, peaceful and picturesque.  We were cramped, tired and pleasantly happy to sit and take it in for a few minutes.  We then opted for a quick power nap, which lasted 2.5 hours!!! Then headed into town, down the crazy mountain to the only resturant in town for a bite at the Pomodoro.  Great food, wonderful people and a great ending to our insane day. 

Getting Started

Just getting started. Prepping content and figuring this dang thing out.  Hopefully will be ready soon!!!