Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Running season has commenced!

I just officially signed up for my first half marathon of the year. It's a moonlit run on the beach in Jeselo, Italy.  It's at the end of May, and I couldn't be more excited! In past years, I have always tried to run daily. I am going to try something a bit different this year, and run three times a week. A fast  run lasting just about 30 minutes minutes, a mid run at my marathon pace, and a longer run at marathon pace. I will have three other workouts as well during the week - weights and piyo. Piyo is a workout combining pilates, yoga, and cardio. If you haven't tried it before, definitely check it out! It is available through Beachbody.

On the note of workouts, I have definitely been more organized and motivated this past six months. I can't just see the difference - I feel it too! I have been really trying to cut out processed food, or at least keep it to a minimum. I have been much better at my water intake, and have limited my caffeine intake as well. It is amazing how small steps can lead to big changes.

In addition to my half marathon, I will be running one full one this year, and a handful of smaller races as well. I haven't decided on locations for any of these..Any suggestions?? Also, I am curious..do you use energy gels on long runs? What are your favorites?

Running season has commenced for many of us..good luck to all of you! Enjoy!!

Monday, January 1, 2018

Happy New Year! 2018

2017 was an odd year, but not altogether bad. On a personal note, it started off with a car accident and a hospital stay. The two weren't related! I lost a few family members and a coworker. Another family member has been struggling with illness, but thankfully is doing well at the moment. And the world at large? It is a scarier place than ever before. But, there are so many positives to this year as well, so many moments for which I am thankful.

After my hospitalization for kidney issues, I am healthier than ever before. I make time for myself and my health all the time, not just some of the time. After having issues with my work permit in Italy, I found myself turning back to freelance writing and investing in my own business. I can now travel back and forth between Italy and the U.S. freely (the U.S. is my home), and work from wherever I am. It was a blessing in so many ways. I actually went to school to be a writer, but pushed it aside for many years, believing I needed a "real" job. I am more independent than ever before, but oddly, have more people in my life I could depend on, if needed. My significant other is doing well in addition, and our mutual independence just makes the relationship that much stronger. My niece was hit by a car, but is doing well. She learned things about herself at 20 that some don't learn until 40, if ever.

As for the world...well it is having some growing pains. But as always in darkness, the stars become brighter and brighter. I have seen people step up for others like never before. It's the first time in my lifetime (though definitely not the first time in history) that I have seen so many ordinary people become heroes.

What are your hopes and dreams for 2018? What were you thankful for in 2017? I hope in 2018 to keep travelling on the path that I am on, and to improve a bit each day, if not each moment. I hope to stop and smell the flowers a bit more each day as well. I hope the world will continue on the path to enlightenment, and that this light will become stronger than the darkness.

Happy New Year my friends!

Sunday, October 8, 2017

A Weekend in Marghera, Venice at Hotel Villa Serena

I took a weekend to get away from the usual hustle and bustle. I didn't go far; just about 20 minutes away from our usual abode. We went to the Hotel Villa Serena, located in Marghera, Italy. Located just a short distance from Venice, it was the perfect getaway to clear the mind. First of all - the hotel.
I went originally to the Belvidere on recommendation. They were completely booked, but were kind enough to recommend Hotel Villa Serena. It turned out to be a great recommendation. For a reasonable, even low price, I had a nice room with a private bathroom, and breakfast included. Wireless was also included, which is invaluable to me as a writer and teacher.

Now for the fun stuff. Friday I arrived a bit later in the evening, but stepped out for a bite to eat at a local restaurant called Principe. I went there for some light finger food, on recommendation of the hotel staff. Delicious! I received prompt service, ate a few light bites at the bar, and went back to the hotel to relax. For me, this was exactly the kind of Friday night I wanted.

Saturday was perfect. Not in a spectacular, adrenaline spiking event kind of way. More in a total relaxation, live in the moment, enjoy peace kind of way. I ate breakfast at the hotel, and took my time walking around Marghera a bit before taking the train into Venice. In Venice, I was treated to a short concert by the the Polizia di Stato (State Police), who were fantastic https://www.facebook.com/LeighMiller23/videos/10212404954012720/. After this, I just let the day take control. I walked around, and enjoyed cappuccino, prosecco, and mozzarella. If you haven't been to Venice, when I say ordered a mozzarella, it is different than the cheese alone. It is anchovy (you can also get prosciutto or other alternatives) slipped into mozzarella, and deep fried. It is quite a typical regional dish. It is small, basically a snack or an appetizer. I ordered a glass of Prosecco, and lucky for me they offered it in a plastic glass, so that I was able to sit by the water. I am not sure what it is about water - whether it be the sea, the ocean, or just a gorgeous lake, but it soothes me like nothing else.

I capped off the day by spotting this street art on the way back to the train station. I am not sure my cell phone photo really does this man justice! These drawings were done completely in freehand, all in chalk, on the walkways of Venice. I hope you enjoy them, and someday get to see this man's work for yourself!

Friday, September 29, 2017

When I close my eyes, I see more clearly.

Back in Italy...finally! It was great to be home in the United States, but I really missed my home and friends here. I have officially eaten all of my favorite Italian foods in just two days time. Now, for the good of all, I must stop!!  I switched back to moderate eating and started running this morning. Back to reality!

As much as I did enjoy being back in the U.S. over the summer, it was a rough summer as well. I was plagued by family illness (still not resolved), and more than one death of a loved one. I took a job there, and made a lot of wonderful co-workers. One of those co-workers was murdered. A 21 year old kid, working about 60 hours a week trying to make something of himself, was shot to death in front of his house. As humans, we can do better. We must do better. The violence in the U.S., and elsewhere in the world, is of epic proportions.  Have we really become such a disposable society? Have we really gotten to the point where we only notice the differences among us? We all need food. We all need shelter. We all need a sense of belonging and a sense of community. It seems, in fact, that we as human beings share a good many important things. Can we concentrate on those?
Close your eyes and feel. Close your eyes and think. You may just find that you can actually see much more clearly when your eyes are closed. Begin to dream again. Begin to hope. Put some kindness out into the world. After being exposed to illness and death this summer I began to wonder:  If I died today, what would my obituary say about me? What would your obituary tell the world about you? ? Would you be happy with it? If not, don't hesitate. Jump up and be counted. Start living your story. Make it a great one. It's never too early - and if you are reading this it isn't too late. You all matter!!

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Summer in Illinois

     I came back to the U.S. for a few weeks to visit family, and will have to extend my stay for a few weeks due to family illness. Regarding the illness, I believe my family member will be ok. Thank goodness for that! There seems to be so many people suffering at this moment, I am really grateful for the joy and blessings that I have.

    On the heart breaking side, my mother's dog Abby is missing. Even though I don't get to see her as much as I wish, I really love this dog, and I hope with my whole heart we will find her. My mother adopted Abby from a dog rescue, who had in turn rescued Abby from a puppy mill. Puppy mill life was brutal, and she was horribly abused and neglected. My family has tried giving her the very best life possible in the three years we have had her. On Wednesday, a storm hit the area, and damaged part of our privacy fence. Unfortunately, we didn't know the fence was damaged until Abby got out of the fenced in yard. She was let out for what was supposed to be a few moments of play outside. And just like that, she was gone. Because of the abuse she suffered at the puppy mill, Abby cannot bark. She is terrified of people outside of family and close friends. We have posted on every possible missing dog site, notified Animal Control, the local vets, etc. We have searched everywhere, even taking numerous trips into the woods. All to no avail. I am so desperate to find her. The thought of her hungry, frightened, hurt..it is just too much for words. My whole body hurts with heartache, over the thought of her pain.

   I am still writing, coaching, and running while home. Hell, I am even selling Avon. Keeps my mind off the negative at least a bit. I hope that my next blog post will be a bit cheerier. I hope to be able to say that my family member is in great health, Abby has been found, and that I am back in my home in Italy. Until then....

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Listening to your heart

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do, than by the things you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover" - Mark Twain

Every so often, your heart speaks so loudly you can't help but listen. When it does, be grateful. It's probably going to give you the best advice you've had for awhile. A year ago, I had a good enough life. A great job, great family and friend. I still have all of those things, thank goodness! Wait..Can't forget the amazing pets, I have even gained one! But I digress..

I ended up moving to Italy, and I don't regret it for a moment. I love the country, the people I've met, etc. But now I missed my family in the United States. I'm haven't won the lotto just yet, so I do need to work. The question now, more than ever, became flexibility vs need for food and shelter. This is where my heart started speaking. I realized in that moment that I had never followed convention or colored inside the lines in any other matter, so why do it with my career? Other people have managed to build businesses and lives with flexibility, why couldn't I? DEEP BREATH..because a deep breath  is necessary when jumping off into the cliff into the unknown. Around this time I had joined Beachbody fitness programs to get past those health issues I had mentioned. I was having a great time working out (in my living room, at all hours), and had a great coach, Lindsey Ann. I thought about the fact that she loved it too..and was turning it into a career. I kind of decided..what the hell?!!! So, I gave it a try, and now I am a beachbody coach, working online, helping others, and getting paid. If you think this has turned into an infomercial, and I am about to tell you that I made millions, think again!! I love this opportunity, and it has improved my life. But I have a long way to go. I still work outside of Beachbody. I still have that responsibility and will for awhile. I do, however, have more flexibility. Right now I am sitting with my family in Illinois, and I am happy to be doing so without stress of wondering how I will afford a three week vacation..soon I will be back to Italy, with my new friends/family.

I feel ten years younger, my health issues are disappearing day by day. And the only change I made was to follow my heart. So please, if your heart is sending you messages, listen. You won't regret it.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Escaping my comfort zone.

It has been an odd spring. February saw me hospitalized for a few days for kidney issues. It was the first time I have been hospitalized overnight for years..like 20 at least. To be hospitalized in a foreign country was a unique experience, to say the least! Hats off to the nurses and doctors of  Treviso Hospital in Italy..they did a fantastic job. And of course to my friends who came to visit, making it a bit less lonely and tedious. The rest of the month saw me struggling to get my work visa to teach in Italy. As it turns out, it is legal for me to be in Italy, but work will take a few more months. Thank goodness for my Beachbody business, and my freelance writing. Without those, not only would my bank account be in danger, but my sanity as well. I have a freakish amount of energy, and don't do well when left too idle. This downtime has been amazing, however, to get my fitness and health back on track. I did a three week yoga retreat challenge, followed by some intense sculpting and cardio. Now I am adding some more advanced yoga back into the mix, and I feel better than ever! And, working on some much needed self improvement and organizational things as well. I reset my school loans for a new payment plan, I am working on my credit score and downsizing/eliminating old debts. All in all, it has been a time of both frustration and growth. I guess you can say I escaped my comfort zone, and I am coloring outside the lines right now. But it is a pretty nice place to be.