Friday, April 19, 2013

Venice, Venice, oh beautiful Venice!

Although this trip was taken over 6 months ago, it is still as fresh in my mind as the day it occurred.
Venice was more of a convenient stopover on the way back to Germany from Rome that an intended destination, yet I couldn't have been happier that it fit into my travel plans ever so nicely. You see, me and Venice have an ongoing love affair. Long before I ever thought that I'd move to Europe, I'd picked up a used pocket travel guide by Lonely Planet on Venice while shopping at a local used books store. What do you know, some years later here is it- so much more accessible than I ever thought possible! Unfortunately, my travel plans left me with only 24 hours to explore this magical place, but it certainly gave me a taste of Venice... a taste that left me wanting more.

First look: a moody Sunday morning

The day started out rather poor: grey, ominous clouds, slight drizzle and cold winds...and yet, the sheer beauty of everything around was distracting enough that I barely noticed the less than perfect weather. I think I spent the first few hours with my jaw hanging open, taking a thousand photos of just about everything, fascinated by the way the paint was peeling off the buildings, or the gorgeous balconies with all kinds of flower baskets hanging off them. Everything seemed to be placed and arranged exactly in the right place to make the perfect composition. I was in love. instantly, undeniably.

around each corner, views like these.

It was everything I could have imagined and more

Without looking at the map once, I somehow stumbled through all the turns and alleyways and emerged onto San Marco square just as the sun decided to come out. Armed with a slice of fresh pizza and a refreshing drink, I decided to treat myself to the city view from the Bell tower. Normally, I wouldn't spend money on climbing a mere few tens of meters to gain a better view/perspective, but this seemed worth it (and came highly recommended in the LP guideboook!).

 The 3euro view did not disappoint!  Then, just as I was about to enjoy strolling along the waterfront, as suddenly as the sun appeared, it gave way to dark purple clouds and I saw people running back towards the San Marco square, seeking shelter.

Gorgeous, but dangerous.

That's a rare sight: an empty San Marco square in August!

It was over just in time to grab a quick coffee and head off to watch the sunset, which turned even more glorious, thanks to the heavy dense clouds hanging low in the air. Once again, everywhere you turned, presented another gorgeous photo opportunity, as if it was an oil painting from the Renaissance period, just waiting for you to put a frame around it.

No, this isn't photoshop-this is Venice.

Hard to believe the locals get these views all the time!

Venice is still gorgeous by night.
The views were so worth sitting outside and freezing in the cold  wind.

Next morning, as I was waiting to board my bus taking me to a small local airport (serviced by Ryanair and Germanwings), I tool a last good look around:

...of course, it was promising to be a brilliantly sunny day without a cloud in the sky, perfect for hitting up the nearby beach in Lido. Oh well, 'til next time, Ciao Bella Venezia!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Technology vs. humans: checking in

Do you know that feeling when you wonder where the day has gone? Sometimes, I wonder where the whole week has gone. So, as this week begins and I remain hopeful of achieving everything I had set out to do and more, I am drawn to experiment with breaking the patterns. We may have the best ideas, but if we do nothing about them, they just go to waste. If you keep on ignoring your creative instincts to create, eventually they will diminish and come to a halt. Upon returning home from a marvelous workshop, the difference in the creative potential and the distractions around us are obvious. personally, one culprit is especially apparent: it sits there,demanding attention, and so I succumb to the call of my "master" and spend endless hours researching information for the future, answering e-mails, connecting with the rest of the world, all the seemingly needed things,yet as the day comes to a close, I am left with the question: "what did I really accomplish today?" Is all this really worth staying up into all hours of the night, falling out of the natural cycles of life, all for the sake of seeing who is "following" us, how many people are interested in your life, what is going on in the world- are we all that afraid to miss something in life, that we'd rather cling onto our blackberries, smartphones, iphones, etc-that to simply relax into the moment and appreciate it for what it is?

How often do you check your phone to see what's going on "out there", to make sure you're staying on top of it all? What if, instead, you "checked in" to see what is going on inside yourself?  What if, next time you're reaching for your latest piece of technology, you stop and ask yourself what is really behind your action, what you seem to be missing in this particular moment? The only way to make sure you are in charge of your life is to know that you are in control of your actions, and it is not your patterns running your life. It takes 30 days to break a habit and create a new one, to re-train the brain to start thinking and acting differently, so I challenge you to pick one thing to focus on for the next month that you would like to change and work on it for 30 consecutive days. For me, it is liberating myself from the negative mind chatter that stands in the way of achieving some of my biggest dreams.

Sometimes the simplest questions are the hardest ones to answer. If something makes you happy, what is it that is stopping you from devoting your life to what your passion is? Is it that fear in the back of your head whispering words of self-doubt :"why bother?.. you will not accomplish anything anyways... only few people live to experience their dreams, what makes you think it's you?...I would like to do it, but..., etc etc" and on and on it goes- the toxic pollutant of our minds. What if, instead, you devoted one hour, half an hour, fifteen minutes, even, to allowing yourself to dream of your biggest potential? If you could do anything at all right now, regardless of the circumstances, what would it be? I'm not talking about dreaming of sleeping in on the weekend, or dreaming of your next vacation- I mean, really big, life-changing dreams.  To tell you the truth, I cannot even recall the last time I've allowed myself to really dream, dream big-  but I am excited to find out what it will be!