Golden Days ... Genova

My mornings begin slowly in this golden city in Italy. Morning after morning, I wake to soft blue skies and 30 celsius.  It's changing the pulse of my body ... of my mind. 

I am finding my feet but so slowly. 

Every time I move countries, I have to relocate everything.  The names of simple things change with the language.  Favourite places and people need to be discovered.  And I search for that new rhythm for my days ... for my life.

My holy moment, those breakfasts I love, have to be hunted and gathered again.  Reframed by what is available.  I haven't quite found 'breakfast' here ... not yet.

My skin is becoming brown, my feet have become accustomed to open leather sandals, and I wear that silky clothing I found in the secondhand shops in Surrey.  And I'm bemused because I've never been a silky clothing kind of woman.  But it's hot.  Really hot.

I have this idea now, that wearing clothes only happens because we have been civilised.  In Genova, the heat and humidity dictate that we only cover the skin that we must cover because any more coverage is just plain insane.

But the city and its colour... I began this wanting to try and describe the peachy, golden glow of the buildings here. 

In the past, I've always lived 'in' the city but this time is different, just for a while.  And as my bus rolls down the hill into the city, I see the glow of the buildings and begin to understand that colour is one of the things that has made me fall in me love this ancient place.

Even here, looking out from my borrowed balcony, the buildings are shades of pale yellow through into gold and terracotta.   And yes, then there's the blue sky, arching over it all ... every single day so far.

Life feels soft.  The air, the sea, the colours that surround me.  It's early days and I'm letting myself sink into them slowly.  Knowing I shouldn't but unable to help it.  To rush, to be stressed, to worry ... would be to waste it all.

I have half-constructed that precious breakfast.  There's a coffee machine here so I have my espresso.  Peaches are ripe and cheap at the moment ... they remind me of Christmas, long summer holidays, and home.  And there's cereal but this is definitely only an 'under-construction' kind of breakfast.  The search continues ...

My dinners are mostly about salad.  Paysanne Salade might loosely identify the mix of ingredients that find their way onto my plate.  Sweet lettuce and baby tomatoes,  and a little cooked bacon.  Sweet potatoes (New Zealand's kumara) cubed and lightly fried in some oil, with pieces bread falling into that pan too ... after the bacon.

I'm not sick of it yet.

I have so many stories of good people and marvelous adventures.  It's time to start telling them but first ... you understand, I had to mention the colour.

Guest Post by Tara Agacayak - Business Coach.

I don't usually offer guest post-space here but I was so impressed by my experience of working with business coach, Tara Agacayak, that I invited her to write of her work.

I had initially signed up with her because I was curious about precisely what assistance a business coach could offer me ... as a photographer, an artist, a woman living in countries not her own.  Tara immediately impressed me with her practical ideas of how I could move forward in my business, generating income and giving me freedom to continue developing all the ideas that I have.  Ideas that I could implement immediately, without complications.

I cannot recommend her highly enough.  In a world awash with coaches, Tara stands head & shoulders above most I've followed over the years.  She has the life experience, an understanding of the multi-national life, as well as the intelligence and empathy that I believe this kind of work demands.  She has my respect. 

And so ... meet Tara Agacayak, Business Coach:

Di’s tagline above reads “People Become Stories and Stories Become Understanding”

Do we share the same story?

As I write this, I sit overlooking the sparking blue Sea of Marmara, smiling contentedly. Never did I dream that my heart could love two countries or delight in calling them both my home.

I am an American wife of a Turk, living in Istanbul. When I moved to Turkey 14 years ago, it was for love. But I demanded that as soon as my husband’s job allowed, that we’d return to the rolling hills of Silicon Valley where I’d grown up.

Until I fell in love with Turkey.

Since then I have worked persistently to build a lifestyle and career that allow me freedom to be in both places.

Maybe this is you too.

Perhaps you have also found the work you love to do and you have seen some success, and you’re at the point where you’d like to figure out how to repeat it month after month to create the stable income that allows you to sustain your dream lifestyle.

It might feel more like an expensive hobby than a sustainable business.

Would you like some support turning that around?

I’m a business coach, working on earning my coaching certification and I’m offering free coaching to help women figure out how they can start earning more money in their business.

If you enjoy your business and the work you’re doing, and would find it useful to talk to someone to brainstorm ways to grow, I would love the chance to speak with you.

The first step is to complete this short survey (5 minutes).

And if the session is useful to you, I would love a testimonial or referral and your feedback.

I look forward to talking with you about how to make more money in your business so you can live the life you desire.

My best wishes for your success!

P.S. If you’re curious about me, you can learn more about me here.

Under The Tuscan Sun ...(or a recipe for dreaming)

Whenever I am unable to create my own sense of beauty, I have this book that has traveled with me since the 90's.  The date I wrote in the front reads 'pre 1999'.  I remember how it saved me when we moved to Te Anau, from the disruption and loneliness that is moving, and that it has saved me so many times since.  For me, there is this sense of falling into the beauty that is Frances Mayes prose, like sinking below the surface of a swimming pool, immersed for a while.

Whatever a guidebook says, whether or not you leave somewhere with a sense of the place is entirely a matter of smell and instinct.  There are places I've been which are lost to me.

I've heard so many angry women talk of Frances Mayes book 'Under the Tuscan Sun' - and make no mistake, I am talking of the book not the movie, which is another story entirely - and these women rage about this book and that woman's unrealistic portrayal of a life lived partially in Italy.

I listen, sometimes I speak up but mostly I quietly decide that they are not lovers of beautiful poetic prose writing ... that they simply lack a dreamy writerly soul. But truly, I'm not sure why I love what they hate.

The outrage ... I would love to unpick it, to understand where it comes from. 

The second-floor bedroom that opens onto a brick terrace gleams.  They've made the bed with the new blue sheets and left the terrace door open to the sound of the cuckoos and wild canaries in the linden trees.  We pick the last of the pink roses on the front terrace and fill two old Chianti bottles with them.  The shuttered room with its whitewashed walls, just-waxed floors, pristine bed with new sheets, and sweet roses on the windowsill, all lit with a dangling forty-watt bulb, seems as pure as a Franciscan cell.  As soon as I walk in, I think it is the most perfect room in the world.

These are soul-soothing words for me.  I once lived in the brick house of a friend who was so good to me when I divorced.  It was everything sensible, that borrowed brick house, but my soul needed something else.  I found a funny little 1.5 bedroom cottage out on the Otago peninsula. 

I moved there and was happy.  I would drink my morning coffee out in front of the massive rough wooden-framed windows that made up the front wall of that  cottage.  My view, a few metres of lawn, maybe 2, a small road just below, and the sheltered water of that beautiful harbour.

I require beauty but mostly it's simple.  It's about Nature and good air, it's about views that make you stop and dream for a while.  It's about having a dog, when possible

New Zealand spoilt me in a way.  My Belgian bloke understood more of me after our trip home last year.  He realised that while I believe natural beauty is a right, he understands beauty is a luxury.  He comes from a small country, 1/10th the size of New Zealand.  In Belgium there are 11 million people, New Zealand has 4 million.

After a few days, my life takes on its own rhythm.  I wake up and read for an hour at three a.m.; I eat small snacks - a ripe tomato eaten like an apple - at eleven and three rather than lunch at one.  At six I'm up, but by siesta time, the heat of the day, I'm ready for two hours in bed.  Slumber sounds heavier than sleep, and with the hum of a small fan, it's slumber I fall into

Finally entering into university studies at 34 was one of the best things I have ever done.  There was an appreciation of all that I studied, an excitement that I might not have felt back when I was 18.  In those days, I lived in 4 different homes along the peninsula.  My first husband and I bought an exquisite cottage down there back in 1999.  We divorced and I lived in a series of cottages on that narrow strip of land between the harbour and the Pacific Ocean. 

Under the Tuscan Sun got me through dark times and lonely times too.  It was like a burst from a sun-lamp perhaps.  It traveled to Istanbul with me, as one of the few things I could take from the old to the new life.  It lives here on my deep-red book shelves in Belgium, a much-loved book that I recently pulled out as these autumn days grow grey and the darkness comes so much earlier.

For me, the book is a meditation on the beautiful moments, written in the prose of a woman who began as a poet and went on with prose.  It's a writers book.  A book for dreamers and lovers of beauty. 

Siesta becomes a ritual.  We pull in the shutters, leaving the windows open. All over the house, ladders of light fall across the floor.