A Travellerspoint blog

Constant love

Ahh, it is nice to be "home-ish".  Getting back to our comfortable apartment today was a long anticipated reward after that last painful 24 hours. Tonight as I am singing my son to sleep I am thankful for a safe journey and the ability to be in this place I enjoy for one more week. Our beautiful large apartment in the historical center of Lucca.  

When my son is  falling asleep, he heats up like a furnace. His head glistens with sweat, his body radiates.  When he was a baby, I was always wondering what this meant, these flushes of heat, like hot flashes, that I would feel on occasion. Then I realized it was right before he fell asleep that he would become super-warm and emit UV rays like a little super nova beaming toward Earth. It is one of the little things you store away in your treasure chest of a memory bank, the little daily things that you notice when you are paying attention... when you are in love and yearning to know someone better every day, you recognize small bits of information like this, that you know and few others know. It is the stuff of families and relationships that makes them so rich and connected.  Often I find myself applying pieces of myself to my son. He must be cold with the air conditioning blowing on him at night, because I know I hate cold air blowing directly on me. My husband, however, always thinks our son is hot. He is always removing his shirt or jacket or shoes. When I say, what happened to the hat I put on him? He says, oh, he was hot. He thinks this because he is generally warm.  We both have to continually remind ourselves that this little person is his own entity with his own likes and dislikes that are our puzzles to figure out, and he is neither him nor me, but his own little spirit. 

It is remarkable how much of me has changed in this last year and a half. My person has changed, my focus has changed, relationships are different, body is different, mind is definitely different. There are times I wonder who this new woman is, and what she did with the old me. I worry more. I am more careful. I am always considering what is best for this little person above what I want to do, often compromising and altering plans. I am no longer a separate independent unit, but I feel forever that a part of me is split and goes wherever my son goes. It is too simplistic to say that he carries a part of my heart with him. Instead I think it is part of my whole, part of my soul that goes with him. I am reminded of a time years ago, when I asked my Dad what it meant to love someone. 'How do you know when you are in love?' He thought for a moment before answering, then he said, "Loving someone is always wanting their happiness more than your own". At the time, I didn't get the profundity of that statement. I thought, 'Really? That's it? No magic, no one-and-only? All you have to do is want what is best for someone? That's a dull answer.' But now I understand it 100%, and think it was really the best description of true love that I have ever heard.

It is that simple, and that incredibly difficult all at once, to love someone so much that you wish their contendedness and joy above your own. I can feel that love within me now... That carefree independent me is gone, and this deeper, more connected yet more serious me has emerged. She has to choose new clothes, new ideas, new reflections of herself, just as she needs to be patient as old relationships adapt and form around this new person. I cannot expect my relationships and feelings to stay the same, just as I cannot expect old clothes to fit the same and feel the same. They
have to be adapted to this new self as she is growing and evolving. Love requires continual evolution and growth to survive, and the best way to do
this is to tell the truth about who you are, and to see the other for who they have become.

Posted by globalmomma 08:34 Archived in Italy Tagged new love child lucca relationships personality Comments (0)

Our karmic bank account just ran out

An Evening at the Orly Airport

semi-overcast 17 °C

We had been traveling for nearly three months with not really any major glitches. Minor ones, of course, but no real major calamities. Then...it all hit us at once...

Why do I say that? Well, it all started with a routine trip to the airport to catch our flight back from Paris Orly to Pisa. We had just sent a nice morning at the Louvre art museum, seeing a few more sights in Paris before we had to head back to Lucca for my husband's Italian class. We get in the first metro and then have a fairly long walk to the connecting metro at Notre Dame that takes you to the airport. It is raining lightly, and fairly cool. We have all of our baggage rolling along with us. We are walking this route, and I am feeling incredibly uneasy. We NEED to get there! I am not usually anxious like this about arriving to the airport in ample time, or getting seats...usually I am just fine with waltzing in without too many minutes to spare. But for some reason, this time is different. I rush through lunch, spilling half on the floor in my haste. I want to go. Now we are walking on our way, and I still feel this urgency.

We arrive at the metro to take us directly to the Orly airport, and the trains are running behind. First it says 5 minutes, then it switches to 10 and then to 12. We have to do something, I tell my husband Chris. Find another way. So we trek all of our bags and the stroller back up the escalator and out of the metro. We try hailing a cab, but we need to walk a few blocks to the taxi station. We arrive and hop into a taxi and head to Orly. When we arrive, we have about 25 minutes until our Easy Jet will take off, and Chris runs ahead to the checkin desk, while I follow briskly behind, pushing Bodhi. As I get there, Chris is at the desk, and I rush up there hoping to plead our case. But when I arrive I realize that Chris is already being told that in fact, we do not have 25 minutes until our flight leaves...it left 25 minutes AGO.

OOPS. So turns out, we were not kinda late, we were extremely late. In fact, we never had a chance of making the flight. We had written the time wrong; the flight was at 2:30pm, not 3:20pm. Discouraged, we asked about our options. There were, essentially, none. No more flights out today. One at 6am tomorrow, but we would have to pay the full fare again. Any other flight to any other city would be a ridiculous price based on highest fares. Hmm, no stand-by, no 'change fees', no just switching us to a new flight from our old one without any cost? nope. We were stuck. We had to pay and stay overnight, so we did, after a little whining and kicking and screaming.

So now, on to find a hotel. We resigned ourselves to stay at the airport due to our earlier issues with trying to leave the city of Paris, so we would spend the evening in Orly at a random airport hotel, instead of in our lovely apartment (that we were already paying for!) in Lucca. It was an expensive mistake. One that wasn't funny to us then, and now, it can actually get a smile and a shake of the head, but still isn't very funny. Paris had kicked our butts, and we were paying much more for our weekend excursion than we had bargained for, and I was resentful. Why hadn't we been more careful? Why had things gone this way? After questioning and questioning, the only satisfactory answer I came up with was that our karmic bank account had finally ran out. It was time to refill and rebuild it, and that was really the only explanation there was.

Posted by globalmomma 15:58 Archived in France Tagged paris travel transportation weekend trip bad airplane luck jet easy orly karma Comments (0)

Final day of the Tour de France

a belated recount

It is early Sunday morning and we are excitedly getting ready to spend the day watching the bike race. It feels like football Sunday and all those mornings spent driving to Candlestick Park to tailgate and go to the 49ers games. It has the same buzz of energy and the same early morning motivation, as we set off after cappuccinos on a brisk walk to the Champs Elysees to find our spot. It also has that same Autumn chill, as Paris seems to have, even in the full form of summertime. I don't think I have ever visited Paris and not been chilled... Anyway, off we go, to find the perfect spot, camp out, and prepare for the entourage of equipment, parades, vans, team cars, and finally, bikers to arrive.

We get to the Champs Elysees and I am surprised honestly that there isn't more of an event planned around today. It is evident from the hotels that everyone has come in droves to see the bike race, and the streets are filling up with people, but there are only a few vendors capitalizing on the event. And after several blocks of walking, I discover that the authorities have made no effort to manage the crowds. There are no extra trash cans, and believe it or not, NO extra bathrooms. Not a porta-toilet in sight. I was horrified by this observation, surely this cannot be, but after asking at least 4 vendors and different groups that seemed to know what they were doing, they assured me that, yes, I was correct, there was only 1 bathroom. In the park. Already at 9AM there was a line that took me 40 minutes. One toilet, for thousands.

So, back to the race. We secured a front row spot, as close as us free spectators could get to the finish line and the megascreen and decided to set up shop. I pulled out all of the toys and games for Bodhi and we sat on the concrete pavement. The people next to us had driven down from England and they were cozily setting up beach chairs, tables, coolers, the whole works. We didn't even think to bring our apartment towels. Luckily I did remember to bring sunscreen because despite the prediction of rain, it was a warm, absolutely magnificent day. Within the hour, we had several rows of people deep behind us, and Bodhi was getting sleepy. I decided to try to walk him around in our Ergo carrier, where he sleeps best when we are out in a crowd, so I walked through the adjacent park while he rested. When he woke up, I walked back to our spot, and we sat down for a picnic lunch. All was a relatively normal day, except that we were having to live it within a confined 5x5 foot space while we waited for the Tour de France to arrive in Paris. I won't lie, it was definitely a challenge keeping a toddler cooped up in such a small space for an entire day, but somehow, we were determined to make it happen. We hadn't come all of this way to not have the full front-row experience of the Tour. It was our first time at a Tour de France race after years of talking about going to see it, years that probably would have been much easier, we decide to come when we have a toddler to occupy. Sometimes even I don't understand our decisions like this, but we have to seize the moment, even though some times it bites.

Around 2PM the floats and promotional trucks and hoopla comes whizzing down the Avenue, and the crowd begins to stir. More people gather, and they gather in closer. There is some pushing and angling, like we are at a headlining concert. Luckily for us, behind us are the nicest Dutch family, and they are very comfortable being where they are and giving us space for Bodhi and his stroller and his desire for jumping. Then the announcer begins talking about where the bike race is, and when they will arrive in Paris, but unfortunately for us, the only words I can make out are "Pari'" and "Maillot Jaune" (Yellow jersey = race winner/leader). Around 3:30PM, the team cars start entering the circuit, and we know the riders are near. Another push or two and now, I have Bodhi in the carrier, because there is no room for him to get down. Luckily, he is a good sport about it and there is lots to see: megaphones, motorcycles carrying cameramen, cars in all colors and designs. Then, after hours of waiting, the moment arrives. You can feel the rush of excitement building as the bike riders race down the cobblestones of the Champs toward where you are standing. Suddenly, there they go, one, two, three, four, five, like flashes of colored lights. Then a whole pile more, zoom zoom zoom. The sound of the bike wheels hitting the stones and the spokes turning on the wheels sounds like a low-pitched whirrrrrrrrrrzzzzzzhhhzzzhhh... the type of sound that could put a baby to sleep. A soothing yet loud shushing noise that really amplifies the experience of being right there. In years of watching the race on TV, I definitely was not aware of that sound.

Eight times the racers blew past us at boggling speeds, giving us enough time to savor, snap pictures, catch names and jerseys, and simply take in the whole experience all at once. It is absolutely worth the wait, is all I can really elaborate my thoughts in the moment. wow, what a display. Of skill, hard work, talent, dedication, perseverance, teamwork, motivation, excellence, pain, effort, agony, pride, exhaustion, elation. You can almost feel the palpability of the emotions that the riders have on this, their last day of the longest, most grueling and painful bike race many of them have experienced. All of their efforts have led them to this day. And for many, it is a day of disappointment, as for Andy Schleck, coming in close second after weeks of amazing effort. For most, it is a day of relief and satisfaction, to have made it all the way through to the end, and to be finishing this long race. For one, a victory lap. This year the victory went to the Australian Cadel Evans. For me, it really didn't matter who won, I was just there as a fan of the event. To see in person the culmination of what these athletes have worked for, in making it across the final finish line on the Concourse. And to feel the energy generated by all of that effort and experience. It is a truly inspiring race, and being there at the finish is a day I will not soon forget.

Posted by globalmomma 14:43 Comments (0)

Paris and the Tour

rain 21 °C

Ahh, Pari'! Here we are in the bustling beauty of Paris, one day before the final stage of the Tour de France. We are making a short weekend excursion from Lucca up here to France to experience the excitement of the bike race finale, and to take one final trip on our journey. We metro into the city from Orly airport, and walk up into the cloudy mist and the stunning picturesque view of the Church of Notre Dame. It is a nice entrance to the city. We are able to walk around and see a few of the sights, but our mission here is clear: to scope out our spot and ultimately see the race tomorrow. We go settle into our apartment after a ottos difficulty procuring the keys, and then head back to the Champs Elysees. We walk from the Concorde toward the Arc de Triumph getting our bearings and trying to comprehend what the day will be like tomorrow when the bikes come through and the crowds are swarming. Paris is so much larger in scale than anywhere in Italy; and at first it is a little overwhelming, after being in such small, manageable, safe towns for most of our trip. We are now in a metropolis and there are people, cars, buses everywhere. Unfortunately this means Bodhi spends a lot of the day in his stroller so we can keep a steady eye on him, now that he is quickly running from place to place with his own agendas.

It is raining, but this time, we are prepared with a raincoat for Bodhi and sweatshirts for my husband and I. We duck into a cute French bistro for lunch and the food is absolutely delicious and rich. I have baked vegetables stuffed with rice and lamb. Chris has a Nicoise salad, and both are truly spectacular. Bodhi is snoring by the fireplace in his stroller, and with the rain coming down outside, it is the perfect cozy escape and a nice mini-date.

We walk until our feet are aching and then head in for the night...tomorrow will be a big day, we want to be prepped and ready for the spectacle.

Posted by globalmomma 08:56 Archived in France Tagged food paris france french tour de triumph arc notre dame champs bistro elysees Comments (0)

Going to Paris

semi-overcast

Yes, yes, yes, my Bodhi has successfully put himself down for a nap! I am brewing coffee in the Moka (Italian coffeemaker), and trying to absorb some Italian words through the television. I tried for ten minutes yesterday to turn on the TV, and this morning, Bodhi went over, pressed a few buttons, and presto, the TV went on. Aha, the little guy has already surpassed my technical savvy. It is a beautiful day in Lucca. Tomorrow we head off for our final excursion of our trip: a weekend in Paris to watch the finale of the Tour de France. We have talked about seeing the ultimate bike race for years now. In fact, we were in Italy years ago, in 2003, while the Tour was taking place in France, a year Lance Armstrong won the tour, and we didn't go see it. We both regret not going, so this time, even though there is no Lance, we are going. Hopefully one of the riders I cheer on will win, but it is mostly the whole production, the crowds, the environment that we desire to see. Maybe there will also be time to go to the Louvre, go up the Eiffel Tower and so on. My husband has never been to Paris, so mostly it is a belated Father's Day gift for him.

Since Germany, every day we have endured the rain. It rained in Brussels, in Ghent, and even on our few days here in Lucca. Our son has his old car seat and stroller, with no rain guard, and no raincoat or rain boots. We have no raincoats or umbrellas. Like true Seattleites, we are holding out. We walk around in the wet weather like it doesn't phase us. Italians all seem to think they will melt like the wicked witch of the West in the rain, avoiding it, ducking under awnings or into the nearest coffee shop. Carrying umbrellas, wearing parkas and looking generally perturbed, they walk and bike through the streets. We are not too concerned with a little rain. But since it is supposed to rain the whole weekend while we will be outside watching the bike race and waiting in the rain, perhaps it is time I broke down and bought some rain gear and went to Paris prepared. As fate would have it, I actually have a raincoat for the baby, but we mailed it home. We have begun counting our days here - it is hard to fathom that we will be back home in ten days, no longer traveling, no more, 'ciao bello! ciao piccolo!' greetings for Bodhi, no more amazing pasta dishes, perfect macchiatos, no more stretching the mind to expand comprehension of this place and this language.

I hope while in Paris to see: the bikes flying at amazing speeds along the Avenue des Champs-Élysées. To again visit some of my favorite works of art at the Louvre museum, including Venus de Milo and Winged Victory sculptures, although the Musée d'Orsay is more my preference, there is no time for both!! To walk along the Seine and see all of the old book stands (or take a boat!). To view the Eiffel tower at night. To have one decadent Parisian meal. Paris here we come!

Posted by globalmomma 01:22 Archived in France Comments (2)

Lucca is the best

July 20

We have now traveled Italy from heel to toe, coast to coast, and I have to say, Lucca is one of, if not THE best cities in Italy. We are now staying here for the remainder of our last two weeks in Europe, in a quaint little apartment inside the old city walls. Lucca has a well-preserved city wall made of brick that encircles the historical center of town, and has a series of doors or 'porta' that lead outside the city center. From these porta, you can give or receive directions, and they go around the city like a wheel. There is a wide jogging path along the wall that makes for a marvelous passeggiata, or evening stroll. There are joggers, baby carriages, old men reading the paper on benches, small cafes, and mostly people walking along the wall to get from one side of the city to the other. It is supremely quiet, and there is a marvelous amount of greenery. There are wide fields surrounding the walls, where kids can play soccer, dogs can run, and people can bike. The way around the historical part of town is by bike, as cars are limited inside the walls. It makes for an incredible ambiance... There is no hum of scooters, no hugging the old stone walls while a truck zips by on a narrow street. It is a city for pedestrians, and because of that, it has a wonderfully relaxed, family-friendly feeling to it. I feel at ease allowing my little boy to toddle down the street several steps ahead, and letting him roam in a piazza, while I sip a glass of prosecco. Lucchese locals are also incredibly helpful and warm people, and finding everything you need here is remarkably easy, for a small Italian town. We found a natural food supermarket (!), there are pharmacies and hospitals, great shops, and some of the finest restaurants we have visited in Italy are here. I recommend Buca di San Antonio, if you are ever in Lucca. But really, virtually all of the restaurants here are good, even those in the more touristy areas of town. There are tourists who visit this town, but not so much that it is annoying to walk down the street or that you feel the locals are jaded, rip you off, or desire that you not be there. We happen to be in Lucca this time at the height of their tourist season, since there is a giant music festival they host each July called Lucca Summer Festival. Even in this atmosphere, it does not feel swamped with tourists or overcrowded. It is as laid-back and welcoming as always. It is one of those places that invites you inside, by continually surprising you with new vistas, piazzas, and quaint cafes. The first time we came to Lucca, we were wandering without a map, and as we walked down a narrow street, it would open up into a beaiutiful piazza. Aha! this is the place, but then a little more walking, and another piazza would appear, more beautiful then than to last. It has that kind of old world charm and architecture. Maybe there are no 'big' sights here, but the historical center in its entirety is a special place worth seeing, or in our case, coming back for again and again.

Other reasons to come to Lucca: It is an hour by bus (or two hours by slow train) to Florence, another wonderful city! and just twenty minutes to Pisa, which is nice to visit just to say you did. It is also 20 minutes to the sea, and there are some great free beaches to explore with big sand dunes that might make you imagine you are in the Southern Atlantic coast, around South Carolina. The coast also has incredible fish and chips that makes it worth a visit. It is near to the Cinque Terre, Viareggio, and also a longer day trip to Milan, Parma and other Northern towns...

Why my husband and I decided to come back to Lucca was for the peace and tranquility that the no traffic zone provides, the green areas and playgrounds for our son to run around, the Lucchese food like tortelli con ragu (tortelli/ravioli with meat sauce), risotto, farro (spelt), lamb... oh, and for an Italian language class.

Posted by globalmomma 00:57 Archived in Italy Tagged food parks pisa city florence cuisine lucca terre quiet walls cinque tuscan Comments (3)

When it's hard (traveling with child)

I've blogged about the best of times, and I must also blog about the worst. Traveling can be hard...traveling with children can be much, much harder. I understand now why the barrier to getting on the road can stop most before they begin. The challenges are overwhelming sometimes, the burdens can be huge, and there are no safe fallbacks.

Why it is hard...
In Italy, you must always be prepared. There are no late night runs to Target for baby food, no 1-800-DIAPERS overnight diaper delivery. It is a Sunday, and you don't have extra diapers, you are SOL. Or it could be an obscure Saint's holiday you didn't know about...nothing is open.

The baby seats here are not made for babies. They are regular chairs with added height, but no seat belts, no safety bar between the child's legs. They are wooden chairs with a wicker seat that look more like a mini bar stool. The first week we were here, I rejected a place that brought that baby highchair out, and went in search of another restaurant with a highchair we could actually use without having to hold onto our son the entire meal. But the next place had the same type, then the next. I quickly realized that this was how it was going to be. Occasionally I find a place with a more modern version like I am used to, with a plastic seat and tray, and a belt. But most of the time we have to eat with one hand holding onto Bodhi to make sure he doesn't slip right off the highchair. I keep him on my right side so I can eat with my left hand. These types of inconveniences would not happen at home. There are also virtually no changing tables in Italy. The bathrooms are smaller than a coat closet. Usually, I have to change my son's diaper with him standing up. And often, I am wildly trying to make sure he doesn't touch anything while I as speedily as possible tear off his diaper. Thank goodness we found these new diapers that are pull-ups, because it makes it much easier to change a child with one hand. It is a stark contrast to Germany and Scandinavian countries, where it seems they expect everyone to have a child with them wherever they go. In the airports, on every train, in the cafes and exits off the highway, there are deluxe baby changing stations everywhere, most complete with straps, baby wipes, diaper pails... but not in Italy. For a country that adores babies, they seem very ill-prepared for having them around.

I have had to overlook the notion of sanitary hands, and realize that really, there is very little I can do to keep this child from touching things that are often disgusting. There is pigeon poop on the old cobblestone streets, and when you walk or crawl on these centuries-old streets, you get grey soot on your hands or shoes. The bathrooms have bidets, scrub brushes, shower drains, all of which my son is very interested in. In fact, while traveling, it seems everywhere I turn there are hazards to look out for, and it is difficult to keep up with them all. At least when you have a home, you can child-proof it and have 'safe zones'. While traveling, there are no safe zones, and every new place you go has new things to watch out for and secure. For instance, I am just glancing around the apartment, and here is what I see. A giant bookcase that could topple if climbed. Electrical outlets in need of plugs. Small lamps that could be pulled off end tables. A giant fireplace with iron tools. Low open windows, working radiators, a glass table. I am constantly on the lookout for small choking hazards, shock or burn hazards, open staircases or steps, things he could break, unsanitary things he might put in his mouth, or sharp objects. It is like a giant obstacle course sometimes. Recently he has taken to climbing everything, and yesterday, he figured out how to successfully climb onto the couch while yelling "uppa!". Once he gets up, he often stands or jumps or tried to climb over the back of the couch, so now it is a regular game of running to pull him off the couch, then watching him climb right back up.

This leads me to the next challenge of traveling with a young child. There are often things that you want to do, that you simply cannot do with a baby. You have to put those things out of your mind and focus on what you can do. For instance, there are no date nights. No babysitter, no time off. There is a huge music festival here in Lucca all ten days we are here, we are only several hundred yards away from some big names like Ben Harper, Jamiroquai, but we won't be going. the shows start at 10PM and are outdoors in an old amphitheater. We were also in Karlovy Vary for the biggest night of the year, their last night of the international film festival. But there were no films or parties for us. There was a time in Verona, we went back to our hotel for room service, but they hold operas in an ancient outdoor coliseum after dark, and the barber of Seville was playing. No go. There are a lot of activities in Europe that go on after dark that you miss out on when you have a baby or young kids in tow. It can be hard to take when something really tempting or 'once in a lifetime' is happening. But of course, there are other experiences you have that could only happen with a child, and these sacrifices are worth it. But you cannot have your cake and eat it too, like you often can from home with your team of helpers, and that is when it's hard.

Posted by globalmomma 01:27 Archived in Italy Comments (1)

The Beer Capital

rain 18 °C

Here I am at a 'Belgian beer tasting shop' in Brussels. It is where the locals go, and there are hundreds of beers, none of which I have ever heard of. Like an Enoteca in Italy for tasting local wine varietals, this is a place for tasting lesser known obscure small batch beers. You tell them what you like, and they bring you a similar type of beer to try. For me it is tough to describe the flavors of beer that I prefer, so I tell them I like the Belgian beer 'Leffe' and they return with a refreshing blond that is slightly yeasty and not too fruity. OK, sounds good. (it was).

The Belgian sophistication in beers is absolutely astounding and unrivaled. I am not a very learned beer drinker, but I also know of no other place on Earth with this much variety, depth and interest in beer as Belgium. Czech republic definitely competes with Belgium in the number of small breweries, and Germany has many breweries as well, but the trappist history here from the Middle Ages takes beer to a much higher level. They have fruity, wheaty, yeasty, dry, sweet, bright, cloudy, creamy, mild, refreshing, strong, high carbonation, low carbonation, lambics, ales, doubles, tripel, abbey, brun, blond, white, stout, malty, bitter, spicy, saison... you get my drift?

Posted by globalmomma 11:26 Archived in Belgium Tagged beer grand place tasting brussels leffe brewery trappist Comments (0)

The Kind Heart

I have a story to tell about our train ride yesterday. We were traveling in the high speed ICE German train (Deutsche Bahn) from Frankfurt, Germany to Brussels, Belgium. The total trip was just over three hours. We hadn't reserved our seats, which was a mistake at 9 Euro extra, we had only purchased the tickets to board the train. We found a non-reserved spot after hauling our bags and pushing the baby carriage through the tight aisles of three train compartments. We sat down, had two seats and a table for Bodhi to play, and all was well.

It always amazes me how much humanity you find on a train. You can meet amazing people, angry people, difficult people, unhappy people, busy people, and kind people. In an instant you know often know them, before any interaction. There was a family that got on at the first stop, three kids in tow, all complaining and fighting. Many bags, much difficulty, and total disorganization. They are coming toward us and our feeling is "utoh". They get into their assigned seats next to ours, but one child will not move over, so they ask us to give up one of our seats. It takes us a few minutes to gather up our things, Bodhi's toys, the food, and move over; and just five minutes later, they get off at the next stop. My husband is extremely irritated. Why would they make us bother to go through all of that effort just so they could place their bags on one of their reserved seats? Why was it so important to make us move over for only fifteen minutes' ride on the train? It was difficult to understand except to understand that perhaps they were just the difficult types.

Not five minutes before, we had met this other man who got on the train, and had reserved the two seats across from us: Late 40's, grey receding hairline, blue clear eyes, his smile like a laugh. He was traveling alone with a boy about 4-5 years old, who was handicapped with muscular dystrophy and unable to walk. The man carried the boy to his seat, then carried all of their bags. They could have taken many of the more convenient handicapped seats near the entrance. They had the two seats across from our table and we began moving our things and trying to help with his bags. He sees the baby, and says, no no, I will take these two unreserved seats one row behind, it is no problem. We say it is no problem, we will share it, but he insists. We chat for a minute and offer the boy a large German pretzel. Bodhi has the other one in his mouth, he loves them. At first, I am struck with guilt and feel badly that he reserved the seats and is taking lesser seats without a table, when he likely needs them more. As the minutes pass though, I am listening behind me to their interactions. The man is incredibly kind and tender. He is cradling the little boy on his lap and they are watching a nature film in German. I am playing with Bodhi and tickling him, and he is laughing. Then they are laughing and he is tickling the little boy, the boy is giggling. I glance back and see such a happy little boy, and his father has a look of absolute contentment. When they are getting set to get off in Aachen, we again thank him for use of his seats, he thanks us for the pretzel, and I sense not a single ounce of self-pity or frustration in him, only contentment. I realize I have received another invaluable gift of traveling, and after the man and his son get off the train, I burst into tears. I am so thankful to God and the universe that the little boy is so obviously loved, especially one that needs to much extra care. I feel so blessed to have witnessed this man's joy and wisdom.

I find now that it is of utmost importance to me that all children everywhere be loved. Maybe this will be my main calling in life, somehow. When I feel children are not getting this basic right, it tears me up inside and I want to scream injustice and swoop in, gather up all of these abused or neglected children into my arms, and give them all the love I have left. And when I see a child, especially one with such special needs and challenges, being so fully attended and adored, it fills my heart with a flood of emotion and gratitude. Bless that man with his kind, giving heart. His kindness was like a splash of cold water in my face, telling me to stop worrying about things I cannot control, to stop focusing on things that don't work out, and to appreciate my many blessings, realizing that the ability to give and share love is really the best gift that we have.

Posted by globalmomma 01:45 Archived in Germany Tagged children train ride frankfurt aachen disability Comments (0)

A Balanced Life

rain 23 °C

Last night I again watched the movie "Eat, Pray, Love". And I was struck by the ending where when the main character is worried about falling in love and getting lost, i.e. losing her balance within the relationship, the Bali palm reader Ketut says, (I am paraphrasing) "Sometimes you must lose your balance for love, in order for your life to be in balance".

I lost my balance in love when I fell for my husband Chris, and I also have completely lost it for my son Bodhi. I am amazed at the depth of this motherly love that I have heard about, but not understood until now. It is absolutely everything. It might change with time as a new romance changes to become more steady & less impulsive, deeper but not so all-consuming. I find this loss of balance somewhat unsettling, since I like to have my Renaissance life filled with friendship, family, work, love, art, travel, intellectualism, music, adventure...and right now, it is not all that balanced or full. But it IS incredibly rewarding, and I am reminded that it is completely within the path of mindfulness and balance that one, from time to time, finds oneself utterly off-balance. With joy, with love, with pain, with birth.

Today we were supposed to have a 2 1/2-3 hour drive from the town of Lutherstadt Wittenberg, in Saxony Germany, to the small farm town of Bad Rodach. Well, we happened to be about 10 cars behind a major accident, so we waited on the highway for two hours while they gathered emergency vehicles, brought the tow trucks, cleaned the roads, got the entire thing worked out. Part of me was frustrated...I wanted to get to our destination, a spa, and go for a swim. I wanted to eat. I wanted many things. Another part of me thankfully remembered to be grateful that instead of being involved in the accident, I was sitting by the side of the highway thinking about whoever was in the accident who was having a much worse day than me. And I had plenty of time to send them light and healing too. But what really was amazing was how actually, truly enjoyable the waiting was with Bodhi there. We took him out of his carseat and we played with the instrument knobs on the car. He turned dials, flipped switches, turned the steering wheel, moved the volume dial of the radio up and down, up and down. He climbed from front seat to back seat, he pounded on the windows, he laughed at the automatic door locks, he pushed more buttons. He was absolutely thrilled to be in that moment, playing with both of us in the car. It caused me to forget most of my frustration and aggravation that we weren't going to 'get there', and to simply be in the moment with my family. What a gift, and again, what a beautiful lesson from a little one. Had it been just Chris and me, as resourceful as we are, we still would have no doubt been mumbling and complaining about the long wait in the midday heat, our hunger, our needs. Our son helped keep all of those feelings in check and remind us most of all what is important. Not a midday swim, but the health and happiness of family, and the gratitude for this present moment.

Posted by globalmomma 13:09 Archived in Germany Tagged traffic the in highway moment accident lesson jam patience gratitude Comments (1)

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