The Land of Tears

yellow flowers“It is such a mysterious place, the land of tears” (The Little Prince). Yes it is mysterious. I was at the grocery store yesterday, limping along with this cold and injured knee. I passed by the flowers and the yellow mums were so vibrantly yellow they really caught my attention. Yellow was Steve’s “power color” and the flowers brought thoughts of him to my  mind and heart. I miss him. This morning I decided to go buy the flowers. When I go to the store they were gone. But I found some yellow mums that I brought home. I also got some yellow roses for his grave. As is typical, I was crying in the grocery store, then visited his grave thinking it would calm me down and allow me to speak to him. Weirdly, the grave site didn’t really feel, well, anything. He’s just not there. But I do feel better after having visited it. So yes, Little Prince, the land of tears is a mysterious place.

Little PrinceAnother great quote from The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupery is, “What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well.” I know that with all that has happened to me the last couple of years, there hides lessons for me to learn to strengthen me and sustain me. I just need to never give up searching for the well in the desert, for the lesson to be learned. One thing I know for sure: Everything always works out for the best. Never give up.

Life Changes Fast

Eiffel TowerWow life changes fast. Since August 4th I have been traveling, beginning in New York City then on to the Netherlands, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Lichtenstein, Monaco, Italy and France. I felt very well with surprisingly little fatigue. I hope it is finally gone. The next couple of weeks will tell. So yeah, I was walking a lot and very busy and excited and having a wonderful time. Then the bomb dropped: As soon as I got home on Saturday I came down with an awful cold. Feeling terrible! I dragged myself to campus for the first day of school. While running to catch the train I twisted my knee. So yesterday I spent the whole day sitting in the recliner with ice on my knee, taking Tylenol and Ibuprofen, whining and watching movies. How’s that for a change? From international traveler to couch potato!

Leaning Tower of Pisa

Leaning Tower of Pisa

As I traveled I wondered what I was learning that I could blog about. Honestly, not much came up for me. Not sure why, because I felt very strongly about this trip, convinced that it was “the right thing to do,” especially inviting my granddaughter. Perhaps things will come little by little. For example, when the earthquake hit Italy this morning, I really felt close to the victims because I had just been there. I think of Italians as fun loving, caring people and I wish them the best as they come together to heal. I can feel that my view of the world and sense of belonging has expanded. I like that!

Florence

Yesterday I walked all over Rome and Vatican City which was interesting and educational. Today I toured Flirence and it was spiritual, grounding, and peaceful. When I entered the Croce Cathedral I just wanted to stay for awhile. I felt so calm and welcome. Like I was at the right pkace at the right time. Just outside the cathedral was a monument of Florence Nightingale. It had a great impact, bringing tears to my eyes. All day our tour guide told us about Michaelangelo, DaVinci, and Galileo, geniuses from Florence. I was disappointed he did not mention Florence Nightingale who was born there. Like the the Renaissance figures before her she changed the lives of generations of people, still making a difference today. She is a wonderful example to me of courage and doing the right thing no matter what. It is hard to explain exactly why being in her city of birth was so important to me. So far Florence has been my favorite stop, not so much because of what I saw there, but because of how I felt there.

Alps

imageOn this European vacation we are getting to know the lovely people in our guided tour group. It’s very fun as we develop a feeling of belonging. One man who is here with his family has been very kind, offering to help whenever I need it. Today we took a tram up to the Alps mountain of Pilatus. My granddaughter got very scared of the heights and it was very cold. That kind man gave her his jacket, and kept checking in on her while we explored the summit. Actually several people checked in on her throughout the day. This has reminded me that there are good people in the world.

Switzerland and Lichtenstein were beautiful. We are now in Innsbruck, Austria and it is breathtaking. And I am not as nervous as I thought I would be where I don’t speak the language. People are so kind and we all have so much in common.  And believe it or not I can still remember some of the German I learned in high s

Heidelberg

We had a long travel day today. We went 660 kilometers (whatever that means) on the tour bus going from Amsterdam to Heidelberg, Germany and beyond. I got to know a few more people on the tour. Going with the “it’s a small world” theme, who I talked to today were recovering alcoholics. Both have been sober 18 months. I talked to a man who lost his wife to cancer and we talked about the struggle. At dinner tonight I sat with a small group and we talked about drugs & alcohol, prostitution, the Olympics, and on a lighter note travel, food and Broadway. I loved just chatting and feeling connected. I am convinced that we all want to feel that human connection and commonality. Getting to know others from around the world is a huge benefit of traveling in a guided tour. I am having a great time. My granddaughter wore Steve’s shirt today as a way to bring his memory along for the ride. She’s great.

Chatting in Amsterdam

Today we visited the Vincent Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. They have an exhibit that explores his mental illness. It was so sad to hear about his struggles and eventual suicide. His artwork was so very beautiful and expressive. I was blown away by it. At dinner we met the other 30 people in our tour group. It was nice getting to know those at our table. The topic of loss came up. There was a woman who recently lost her husband and was taking her granddaughter on tour just like me. Small world. One man had lost his daughter and brother recently. We all commented on how universal loss is and how we had so much in common even though we were from different parts of the world. Grief can be so isolating but we all experience it and it brings us together to support one another. I appreciate how open and relaxed everyone was at the table. We also talked about travel, pets, the broken health care system, vegetarianism, and Fred Rogers.

 

Lost in NYC

My granddaughter and I are on our grand adventure. We flew into New York City yesterday. It took 3 hours to get to our hotel and our limo driver dropped us off at the wrong hotel. We grabbed a cab to the right place, ate dinner at the Galaxy Diner and went to see The Lion King on Broadway. Unlike NYC traffic the play was very moving. Afterwards we got lost walking back to the hotel. We got a lift in a bicycle powers rickshaw and had a lovely breezy ride back home. Now we are waiting at JFK for our flight to Amsterdam. To see my granddaughter’s video of our fun go to: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=9DZ-ZA9D6rw

 

Making Memories

Glenda, Gerry, Judy, Jim

Glenda, Gerry, Judy, Jim

I had a nostalgic week. I went to see the new Star Trek movie and it made me cry! It just brought back so many  memories of growing up with Captain Kirk, and seeing all the movies with Steve. Throughout the week it seemed like every song I heard on the radio brought back vivid memories. I heard from my high school girlfriends. We’re planning to get together in Arizona in October. Then I heard from my cousin Judy, whom I haven’t seen for years and years. Mainly we just see each other at funerals. She stopped by on her way to Idaho with her husband my dear Aunt Geraldine. What a lovely, sweet memory-filled surprise. We had a great time re-connecting.

imageSpeaking of memories, I am about to create a huge one. Tomorrow morning I leave with my granddaughter for New York City then on to Europe. We’ll start in Amsterdam then on to Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, and France.  I’ve been getting ready for a few months now and it has finally arrived! I’ve been working hard on finding comfy shoes to wear, and the most comfortable are also the most ugly. Let’s see if I’ll have the guts to wear them. I’m not an adventurous dresser. Anyway, this trip will someday add to nostalgia as I look back on it and count it as an achieved item on my bucket list. I’m excited!