A moment of Gratitude…

This post is a big thank you to the universe, my grandma’s spirit, the positive people who have shown up in my life to provide the support and encouragement when I needed it the most. I am truly grateful for the positive energy that is surrounding me and for the manifestation of many things and those yet to come.

Do you believe you can manifest your heart’s desires or the life you are meant to be living? Once you rid your life of toxic energy and toxic people who have an adverse affect on your outcomes – the things that were just out of your reach seem to become within your grasp. This has been my experience since the passing of my Grandma, sliding into depression and anxiety realising who has been there for me, who turned up when I needed it most and who were never there for me in that capacity.

It’s been a challenging and energising time – detoxing people and things from my life that were no longer serving me. I am very grateful for the people who have shown up and been there during my tough times and not kicked me when I was down. And those that did, helped me to realise who and what I needed and wanted in my life. Positivity, support, love, encouragement, acceptance, tolerance, understanding and compassion – if the people in your life do not provide you with these, then it may be time to reconsider your circle. I read a quote that states “If you look at the people in your circle and don’t get inspired, then you don’t have a circle – you have a cage!”.

Sometimes we become comfortable with the uncomfortable because it’s what we have become accustomed to, however change brings discomfort and with change comes growth. Change is something humans are not comfortable with but once things have changed and become the ‘new normal’, we tend to forget what it was like previously because the new normal becomes the status quo. Remembering that we have the power to choose is often the first step to living your life on your terms. Owning our decisions and making changes that are right for us doesn’t need explanations. People will tend to understand only from their level of perception. My experience is that until you go through the same or similar situation, you cannot begin to understand what choice(s) or change(s) you would make based on what you have to choose from.

I’ve been lucky to have a circle of people who inspired me, supported me and helped me to get back to my usual self, seek the help I required and checked up on me along the way. Some of these people were not always people I had known for a long time, I have found that difficult times often reveal those who ‘show up’ for you don’t always equal the length of time you have known them. Sometimes it does, but not always. I am grateful for my circle, for allowing me time to heal, providing support and enabling me to Laugh.Love.Live again. Peace and blessings!

Through the fog…

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Image credit: pinterest.co.uk

My journey with depression started 2 weeks before my grandma passed away. Or maybe earlier, I’m not too sure but I’m most aware of the last 6 weeks. When it was happening, I didn’t know what it was. I felt like I was not 100%, nor was I unwell. I just felt off but I didn’t know what it was. I may have been picking up on how my grandma may have been feeling before she passed away as I have felt her spirit since her passing in more ways than one.

On the morning of my grandma’s death, I had woken to go to the bathroom – this happens frequently during the night but what made it odd was that I had to do a bowel movement. This is not usually the case and it was very difficult but nothing much happened. I went back to bed and my mobile rang and it was on low volume so it took me a while to figure out it was my mobile. The call went to my voicemail. I think the call was at about 1.30am. Before I even checked my voicemail, I knew it was about my grandma’s passing. I can’t explain how, but I knew. I listened to the message, it was from the hospital saying she had passed away at 12.10am. I woke my husband and told him and asked whether I should call my mum, I wasn’t thinking, I was numb. He advised I should let her sleep and call her at a decent hour later in the morning. I did not go back to sleep that night.

My phone rang at 4.00am and I knew it was my mum calling to inform me about grandma, I was numb. My mum was distraught and I went into protective mode – of myself and my mum. I went into autopilot and starting doing what the eldest daughter needs to do at that time. It was hard seeing my mum’s grief, I was holding myself together the best way I could. I had to help my mum go to the cemetery, organise and purchase a plot, go with her to the funeral home and organise the funeral, flowers, hymns, readings, pall bearers, readings, pictures and slideshow along with the viewing and wake which ended up at our house. There was much to keep me busy, I went into auto-pilot and reminded my mum to eat, drink, rest and sleep. In the process, I was neglecting to do these things myself. I lost my appetite, was sleeping around only 4 hours each night and just kept going with everything that had to be done.

To make matters more hectic, I had my sister from Perth coming to stay from the night before the viewing until the Funeral, 3 days later. Every day since the phone call, I had every sibling, mum and other family members over at our place for 2 weeks. It was overwhelming to say the least. My younger siblings tend to drain my energy so I was conserving what little energy I had to get through this difficult time and trying to shut out the ‘noise’ from my sisters. I was trying to hold in my grief and not express it but when I read my remembrance at the funeral service, I broke down and you could hardly understand what I was saying about my grandma. I had to recover and do a reading later on which I was able to read more coherently.

I had no energy to tell anyone of my grandma’s passing except three good friends – one who I’ve known for 40 years, another for over 20 years and another whom she and I have a different spiritual connection. We can’t explain it but it is there. I did write a post about it to express some of my grief and emotion as I find writing helps me process thoughts and feelings. It helped to an extent. I felt at peace when we laid my grandma to rest because I knew she was in a better place and no longer suffering. I felt she could finally spread her wings and fly. When everyone left our place after the wake, I finally had some peace. Saturday was devoted to cleaning up and taking my daughter to ballet. I felt somewhat better.

Sunday, I took my mum to watch the movie “Crazy Rich Asians” to bring some laughter back into our lives, even though there were some tender moments that also brought some tears. It was just my little family around me on Monday which was nice and brought some peace. The next day, I was going back to work. I thought getting back into routine would help – it turned out I was very wrong about that. As I am also a Life Coach, I provide Management Coaching at work. I love the coaching experience but it does take a lot of my energy. Something I didn’t have much of at the time.

I remember surviving through each day with very little sleep, I was making myself eat even though I had no appetite. I couldn’t afford to get sick. After being at work for 1.5 weeks, I received a work email and was also receiving coaching myself – yes coaches need to be coached too! Both the work email and coaching made me realise I was breaking down and not coping – it was costing me my inner peace which is too high a price to pay. I realised I needed to ask for time off work to grieve. I had been holding it in for far too long.

The weekend before my week’s leave, I had a Holy Communion to attend which was giving me anxiety. I experienced the worst anxiety I had ever felt. I was up early in the morning going to the toilet several times, not able to eat breakfast and not wanting to socialise as I knew there would be other people I knew at the service. I was using all my energy to get dressed and out the door. As I walked into the church, a friend saw me who I had not seen for some time, looked at me she asked “Are you OK?”, I manged to reply “I’m ok, Just Ok.” She let me have my space as I went to find my other ‘friend’. When I found her, she did not ask how I was, did not check if I was OK. She laughed and smiled and chatted. Every sound was too loud, laughter was an assault to my senses and smiling was painful.

I used all my energy to get through the mass and held back tears. During the mass a friend sat next to me who always gives out positive energy. I think that helped me half way through the mass. It was so difficult during mass as there was an elderly man in a wheel chair with his loving daughter which reminded me of my mum with her mother when she was still alive. When I turned behind me to shake hands to say ‘Peace be with you’ there was a lovely elderly lady wearing a hat which reminded me of my grandma. It was tough. When the mass was over, I could only manage to see the girl who was having Holy Communion to say “God is in your heart”. I was almost at breaking point, I was trembling with the effort of keeping my composure for that long. Her daughter has anxiety and I could see how strained she was on that day as well. We bid our goodbyes and went home. It was tough but I survived!

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The next day I went to my family doctor because I didn’t know what was wrong with me. I knew something was out of balance but I didn’t know what. I didn’t know what was happening to me, I felt like I was in a fog and couldn’t get out. I burst into tears when I explained what I was feeling, what I was doing or not doing and he diagnosed me with depression. It was both a relief to know what was wrong and also filled me with dread to tell the news to my family. My doctor prescribed me antidepressants so I could sleep because the chronic lack of sleep was contributing to my depression.

I had a good night’s sleep for the first time in 3 weeks. I had the week to recover and time to grieve. I scheduled a few activities I wanted to do on my own and also visited my Grandma’s grave on the one month anniversary of her death. I had anxiety that morning too but I was determined to go. I bought hot pink and white roses and drove to the cemetery. I grabbed a flower holder that is provided by the cemetery, put some water in it and placed the flowers in the holder. I walked to my grandma’s grave and placed the flowers at the top of her grave. I took off my shoes, sat on the grass and grieved, wept, spoke to her in Vietnamese and at times sat in silence. I felt such a release and my heart was finally lighter. I finally felt like the fog was lifting. I thanked my grandma, said goodbye and left.

I finally felt like I was on the road to recovery. I hope my story helps others who may be experiencing anxiety and depression or helps others pick up warning signs from friends, family or loved ones who may be experiencing anxiety and depression. This week, I finally took my own advice to take some ‘me’ time to look after myself so I can then look after others. I also put into action something I posted on my Instagram Coaching page:

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I let go of energy, habits, behaviour and people that didn’t serve me. I was taking back my power – something I coach others to do and it was good to finally take my own advice!

Someone once showed me this quote by Buddha:

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The Buddhist way of life resonates with me and I found this saying to be fulfilled during this week. I am going to borrow another saying by Buddha when he was teaching about the Not Self “This is not mine. This I am not. This is not myself.” but insert the word ‘depression’ into it – “Depression is not mine, Depression I am not. Depression is not myself.” This has been a tough week but a journey I had to have. I feel I am stronger because of this and enables me to be a better coach to enable others to Laugh.Love.Live! Peace and blessings – Namaste!

 

 

 

Weary

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Image credit: doyoubelieve.com

My heart is heavy,

I’m sick, mostly sick of people being unkind to each other

Inner peace, a high price to pay

When it is absent or in conflict

Transform, change, renewal

Time needed to heal

Release emotions, grief and sadness

Find hope, new beginnings

Everyday moments of wonder

A new day, a fresh start

Being present, focus on the now

Release fear and look ahead.

Weary - greet the new morn

Image credit: hugsandkissesandnot.com

 

Who are you becoming?

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Image credit: pinterest.com

The title of this post was a homework question to ponder for an accreditation I am completing. I didn’t like who I was 20, 30 or even 10 years ago but I like who I am becoming. I am becoming authentic – becoming who I am supposed to be. I feel as though I was living my life based on expectations placed on me – whether that be mine, my family, friends’ or society’s. I am unlearning years of conditioned thoughts, actions and behaviours. It took years to learn and will also take years to unlearn and I am glad to be on that journey.

 

I have been on a self-discovery/ learning journey now for about 6 years. Learning about yourself is often an uncomfortable one, accepting things about yourself that you may not like. It is also about looking at what you can change and how you can go about it. It’s not an easy journey and one that I still stumble on but one that I am committed for the whole journey. There are thoughts, actions and behaviours due to unconscious or sub-conscious thoughts/ behaviours that I am still addressing. Sometimes they will pop up at times least expected. Like my one with body image, familiar with most people – females in particular.

When I was younger, I was unhealthy for a long time – physically and mentally. As a result, I was quite thin. People used to say to me “You’re so lucky to be skinny” but I didn’t see that comment as a compliment. I would exercise to try and put on weight, muscle and to look healthy but I remained “skinny”. I was in a toxic environment and this resulted in not being in a good space physically and mentally. I became anaemic, my acne flared and I was making unhealthy food choices – I wasn’t eating or sleeping well for many years. When I was able to remove myself from the situation, I was able to sleep and eat properly. I gained weight, looked healthier and felt better about myself.

However, when I bumped into people who hadn’t seen me since I was “skinny”, the comments I would receive were “Oh, you’ve put on weight” and “Be careful you don’t get too fat”. So, even though I was finally healthy, people didn’t seem to observe this and chose to comment about me getting ‘fat’. I was in my early twenties so image was one of those things that was kind of important (not something I’m proud of but it was reality). I would respond to those people with “Yes, but I’m healthy now”, but I still had a small part of me thinking I was ‘fat’. I try to avoid using those labels especially now that I have a daughter who could be influenced by how I perceive myself. I prefer to say that our bodies should be healthy – regardless of weight, size or shape. By choosing not to use those labels, I am unlearning years of conditioning and still progressing. I have a long way to go but slowly making progress – and progress, no matter how small is still progress. Something that I feel society has yet to tackle successfully eg Media, advertising, films, etc. There has been some progress but there is much more to room to move.

Which is why my comment to a couple of my friends one night bothers me so much, even to this day although it happened a few weeks ago. I caught up with friends I hadn’t seen for a while and we started discussing tattoos. One of my friends, whom I call my ‘tattoo buddy’ as she has accompanied me previously, has a design that she drew and had finally decided where she wanted it to be placed. I love her design and also the location she has decided. I have also been contemplating where I’d like mine and mentioned a spot I was considering. That spot is on my side torso, my friend said with encouragement “Yes, that’s where you should put it!” To which my response was (to my horror) “It just means I can’t get fat”.

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The thing with words is once you have said them, you can’t take them back. I can’t take back my words and I have been ruminating over them since. I realise my comment was a reflection of how I felt about my body, not anyone else’s. I tend not to notice people’s weight/ size unless it is pointed out but I’m quick to criticise myself. Something I am slowly changing… becoming. I’m not perfect, nor will I ever be but I can be better. Even when I facilitate learning, I say “Practice makes permanent” – not perfect. I feel that nothing is perfect. I can practice the change in my thoughts, actions and behaviour to become permanent.

I caught up with my youngest sister recently and we spoke about this question amongst other things. She is also on a self-discovery/ learning journey so our discussion revolved around a few things related to this. My sister spoke about what she wanted in her life right now was different to what/ where some of her friends were at the moment. I said that it was okay for her to be different and she agreed. I also mentioned what her friends want or are doing in their lives at the moment may not be what they want but may be because it is expected of them. We spoke about how sometimes the years of conditioning also takes a long time to unlearn.

How sometimes we may say/ do things sub consciously or unconsciously based on what friends/ family/ society has projected on us rather than what we really want and that we need to become more aware/ conscious to prevent doing that. Especially if it is not congruent with who we are. She mentioned how it is with me being the eldest and her being the youngest (there are 14.5 years between us), how responsibility is always expected of me and sometimes thrust upon me even when I may not want it. I agreed, and mentioned with her being the youngest, that there were also certain expectations that were projected upon her.  We both laughed and said we are ‘flipping the bird’ to expectations! We accept who we are and who we are becoming, faults and all – it’s quite liberating!

So, who are you becoming? How can you ensure you like who you are becoming? What are some things you could start or continue to do, to become who you ARE?

I aim to enable myself and others to Laugh.Love.Live. Thank you for allowing me to share and process my thoughts through this blog. I feel I process things better when I construct my thoughts into writing. Thank you for sharing back with me via your blogs, likes and comments – it is very much appreciated, provoking thought and insight! The definition of authentic is below – I hope to realise point 1, but not so much point 2! Peace and blessings!

authentic
ɔːˈθɛntɪk
adjective
adjective: authentic
  1. of undisputed origin and not a copy; genuine.
    “the letter is now accepted as an authentic document”
    synonyms: genuine, original, real, actual, pukka, bona fide, true, veritable; More

    sterling;
    attested, undisputed, rightful, legitimate, lawful, legal, valid;
    echt;
    informalthe real McCoy, the genuine article, the real thing, your actual, kosher, honest-to-goodness;
    informaldinkum;
    raresimon-pure
    “the first authentic Rubens in the museum’s collection”
    antonyms: fake, spurious
    • made or done in the traditional or original way, or in a way that faithfully resembles an original.
      “the restaurant serves authentic Italian meals”
    • based on facts; accurate or reliable.
      “an authentic depiction of the situation”
      synonyms: reliable, dependable, trustworthy, authoritative, honest, faithful; More

      accurate, exact, factual, true, truthful, veracious, true to life;
      informalstraight from the horse’s mouth;
      rareveridical
      “an authentic depiction of the situation”
      antonyms: unreliable, inaccurate
    • (in existentialist philosophy) relating to or denoting an emotionally appropriate, significant, purposive, and responsible mode of human life.
  2. Music
    (of a church mode) containing notes between the final (the principal note) and the note an octave higher.

Gratitude!

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Image credit: pixabay.com

Just a quick shout out to my followers – thanks so much, I have reached over 200 follows! It’s reassuring to know that my posts are read and resonate with you all. Thank you to those who have also engaged with my blog by leaving comments – much appreciated! When I started blogging (it has been 6 years to date!), I wasn’t sure how my blog would unfold but it soon took shape and I am continually inspired by fellow bloggers who provide encouragement with their ‘likes’ and ‘follows’. Thanks for taking the time out of your busy lives to read and follow my humble blog and also than you for sharing your experiences, knowledge, ideas, creativity and thoughts via your blogs! Due to work/ study commitments as well as family and extra curricular commitments, I may take a while but I eventually read and follow back those who comment, like or follow my posts. Continue to Laugh.Love.Live via your own blogging experiences – peace and blessings!

 

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The city of fountains – Part one!

We arrived at our final destination and the realisation hit me that our adventures were at the beginning of the end! I felt as though I didn’t want our adventures to finish. My husband and daughter were looking forward to this destination as was I especially to one part it in particular – a week with no itinerary down the south coast to relax and unwind. We arrived in Rome and headed for the taxi stand to be taken to our accommodation for the next 3 days.  We took everything in with our eyes when we left the airport – it is so exciting arriving at a new destination with no expectations other than to be amazed by the beauty, history and culture!

When the taxi driver arrived at our destination, I was a little underwhelmed as he pulled up alongside an old building that looked neglected, graffiti covering the walls and a little deserted but it was only around 3pm in the afternoon. I had booked online and was a bit worried. The taxi driver stopped and said, the hotel is in there, pointing towards the door in the middle and I asked “The hotel is just here?” He confirmed it, let us out and put our suitcases on the steps.

We needn’t have worried as we walked down the front of the building, finding the hotel entrance towards the middle, as indicated and walked inside. We were greeted by a very friendly concierge, who called the porter to bring us to our room before bringing our bags up for us. We were surprised at the size of the room compared to the tiny room we had in Paris! We had a quick walk around the hotel to get our bearings as we were taken up a lift then up a few flights of stairs. We found the hotel housed some beautiful artwork in the common area which was unexpected. I have included some pictures of the artwork on display and one of the lounge area where a lot of this artwork was displayed. We were quite impressed!

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The hotel we stayed at was Hotel Napoleon, it was quite close to the Metro line A and our first major attraction when we went for a little wander after finding something to eat close to our hotel. We stumbled upon the Santa Maria Maggiore, a beautiful large basilica only 5 mins walk away. It is an 18th century building and we found it looming above us and beautiful from the outside. Unfortunately, we had so much to see in our short time here that we didn’t get to go inside the basilica – we came close but realised we were dressed inappropriately. When visiting churches in Rome, your shoulders and knees must be covered and most days, the temperature was quite high (over 30 degrees celcius/ 86 farenheit) and as a result, we were dressed in shorts and singlets. So unless we had planned to visit a church, we would only see the outside of the building. As you can imagine, there are many churches, cathedrals and basilicas to see in Rome so we had plenty to choose from!

We were already in awe of Rome after seeing the Basilica and went exploring around the neighbourhood within a 10 mins walking radius to find somewhere to have a nice Italian meal for dinner later that evening. We walked past many and decided that we’d come out later and see what took our fancy.

We walked into a restaurant we had walked past earlier that was quite nondescript from the street. It had a little sign out the front and steps leading into the restaurant below street level. We entered and were taken to our seats, we realised it was deceivingly larger than first impressions would lead you to believe. The restaurant is called La Vecchia Conca and we found the meals to be delicious! It was cozy and served great Italian food, the waiter spoke English as my Italian is rudimentary at best! It was family friendly and locals frequented it as well as tourists so we took it to be a good sign. We liked it so much, we ate there again before departing. We found out a little later, a tip to eating in Italy is that if there is someone outside the restaurant/ cafe enticing you to eat there then it’s not worth a visit.

After our lovely meal, we walked around a little before heading back to the hotel to settle in for the night. The next morning we walked out to the bus stop near the Santa Maria Maggiore to wait for our bus. When we arrived, there were a few tourists already waiting, some hawkers were there selling hats and scarves. They were particularly persistant even when the two ladies said no, they would put a hat onto their heads. Luckily we were all wearing hats ourselves so were not bothered by them. This we found was a common occurrence where tourists were gathered en masse!

The first stop for our bus was where we also got off to explore as it was the main attraction for us that day – the Colosseum! We saw it from afar and could not believe we were so close to something we had only dreamed of seeing! Once we arrived, we were awed by the sheer size of it! Even if you have seen images before, it pales in comparison to when you are standing in front of and in it! We proceeded to the Roman Forum as that is where the visit commenced. We collected our tickets and proceeded into the Roman Forum and Palantine Hill. It is such an expansive area with so many ruins, amazing architecture which we found was a great pre-cursor to the main attraction! My husband studied ancient history in high school and was blown away by the fact that you could touch artefacts that were thousands of years old and be surrounded by so much history!

Climbing up Palantine Hill is amazing, to see how the Romans built their cities, the views, architecture and beauty surrounding them was astounding! There were rooftop gardens, city views, temples and so much more! It really is amazing to see how much history was around us, in front of us, behind us and underneath us! There are still ruins being found to this day as they dig underground – they have been trying to build another metro line since the 1980’s but as they dig, they come across more ruins and have to cease! My husband joked that they have to stop because they keep finding more ruins before we knew that was the actual reason! It is a city rich in history and everywhere you look, you will find ruins scattered amongst the modern buildings – such a unique city!

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Our ticketed time for the Colosseum was around 3pm in the afternoon so we headed out of Palantine Hill to grab some lunch at the metro station next to the Colosseum. It was a very warm day and we enjoyed lemon granitas with pizza – they were a refreshing, cool accompaniment to our lunch – when in Rome! We rested and cooled ourselves before lining up to see the Colosseum. This is what my daughter and husband had been waiting for – this was the highlight for both of them (and me too)! It still felt surreal that we were standing in Rome about to see the Colosseum even after being blown away by the Roman Forum and Palantine Hill! We passed through the security checkpoint and then were inside walking along underneath admiring the structures from below only to be blown away once we walked up the stairs which revealed the structure in all it’s glory! Walking around, reading the information, seeing the sheer size and detail makes you realise the engineering and architectural marvel as a testament to why it is still standing there today! Even though we took many photos, I feel the pictures do not do the Colosseum justice. Even though it has a macabre history, I feel it shouldn’t take away from the amazing structure built centuries ago that is still standing in modern times! I hope my photos do not want spoil it for those who have yet to see it for themselves!

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After our day at the Colosseum, we hopped back on a bus to see more attractions and see where we wanted to explore the next day but there was one stop we had to make before calling it a day! We got off the bus and walked our way through the cobblestone streets towards the buzz of a crowd. We arrived to the one place I wanted to see with my own eyes – Fontana di Tevi! Yes, it was crowded, full of tourists, noisy and busy but we felt it was so worth fighting the crowds for! The Fontana di Trevi is the largest Baroque Fountain in the city and the most beautiful in the world. We all threw a coin each into the fountain to ensure our return to this wonderful city! I was advised by a good friend to visit the fountain at night so that was planned for a later date during our stay!

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It was also the place where I sampled my first Cannoli in Rome and it did not disappoint!  There just happens to be a great Gelateria and Pasticciera right near the fountain, it is called Don Nino and I recommend visiting it if you ever happen to be in the area! Our first full day in Rome – what an eventful day that is forever etched into our memory. We looked forward to more amazing sights in the days to come.

The next day we headed off in the morning and planned to visit Circo Massimo (Circus Maximus). It is an ancient chariot racing track which you may be familiar with as it was used in the filming of Ben Hur. It looks plain and dry upon first look but has much history attached to it. We were amazed at the sheer size of the track and how it was used as an entertainment arena by the ancient Romans. From there, we walked to the Piazza della Bocca della Verita this translates to the Square of the Mouth of Truth. This is situated near the Tiber River and was interesting to walk around to view the remains of a temple, the fountain and park. The Mouth of Truth is situated near here in the portico of Santa Maria in Cosmedin Church. We didn’t line up to take photos, we enjoyed the Piazza and the Tiber river instead.

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From here, we got on another bus which took us to the Il Vittoriano.  Romans don’t much admire the Vittoriano; they refer to it as ‘the wedding cake’. We decided to stop and explore this monument or ‘wedding cake’ as it affectionately known. It is very impressive due to it’s stature and those who love it for it’s beauty, views and architecture – it certainly delivers! There are great views back to the Roman Forum from behind. There is a museum to visit, galleries to explore and of course the Monument to visit and views across the Piazza Venezia when you get up to the equestrian statue, as the monument itself does not impede the views. There are also impressive fountains in front of the monument as most fountains in Rome. We spent a bit of time walking around, exploring and taking in the sights.

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The next stop was Castel D’Angelo, it is built along the banks of the Tiber river – also with a deep history as was the case with many of the places we visited in Rome. It has been a papal residence and has a bridge that you walk across which has the statues of the apostles Saint Peter (holding a book, with the pedestal inscription Rione XIV) by Lorenzetto, and Saint Paul (holding a broken sword and a book, with the pedestal inscription Borgo) by Paolo Romano.

There is so much to see and learn in the city of Rome and we had only begun to scratch the surface! From the Castel, you can see the Vatican City and the top of St. Peter’s Basilica. We wondered around the building and markets nearby where we bought some refreshing lemon and watermelon granita to cool down and walked under a water sprinkler to get some relief from the heat. The temperature was above 30 degrees celsius during our visit to Rome, so it was quite warm!

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Afterwards, we enjoyed travelling around Rome taking in a few sights and stopped at Piazza Barberini to walk around and view the famous Fontana del Tritone, sculpted by Bernini. This piazza is named after the Barberini family who made their home here. There is also a smaller fountain called the Fountain of Bees which was the symbol of the Barberini family.

Another full day in Rome, where we did so much walking and exploring, drinking in all the sights with our eyes. We were thoroughly enjoying our visit to this city of fountains! The next day was also a highlight of our visit to Italy. We were up early, catching the metro at 7am to meet at Piazza del Popolo for our day trip to Pompeii! It was an early start but worth every second! There is a house with interesting history called Casa Longus, not due to the family who lived there but for the marble table on display. Servilius Casca Longus who was one of the people responsible for Caesar’s death. This table was auctioned by order of the future Emperor Augustus, as all of Caesar’s followers were stripped of their worldly goods. They are certain that the rich owner of the property bought these things at an auction then brought it back and put it on display as a proud purchase from that auction in Rome.

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After visiting the ancient city of Pompeii, we had lunch in a restaurant in Naples (apparently where you can find the best pizza!) and then visited Volcano Sulfatara. We were meant to go to Mt. Vesuvius but due to recent fires, it was unsafe to visit. Volcano Sulfatara gets it’s name due to the sulphur gases you can smell when you visit (smells like bad eggs!) You walk out into the crater of the volcano and see the natural saunas that were used by the ancient Romans – the Mouth of Hell and Purgatory. These are aptly named due to the high temperatures (above 60 degrees) which were believed to cleanse and purify. You are able to sit inside the Mouth of Hell at your own peril!

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Our full three jam-packed days exploring Rome were over for as we headed off to our Coastal escape on the Amalfi Coast. This post ends the first part of our visit to Italy, what we had seen and experienced so far had been amazing. We were looking forward to some rest, relaxation and family time to Laugh, Love, Live together near the water – our happy place. Thanks for joining our journey so far, it’s been great reliving our journey by writing this and previous posts, I hope you will join us on the next part of our Italian adventure – Peace and blessings!

Here are links to the previous posts of our European Adventure so you can read and follow in order of our trip:

https://tigre23.wordpress.com/2017/09/27/european-adventure/

https://tigre23.wordpress.com/2017/10/10/double-deckers-wizards-and-just-rocks/

https://tigre23.wordpress.com/2017/11/18/olde-worlde-charm/

https://tigre23.wordpress.com/2018/01/20/ville-damour/

 

 

 

Peace and Blessings!

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Wishing everyone will continue to Laugh.Love.Live in the year ahead. Thank you for the support and encouragement for my humble blog. Peace and many blessings for 2018 – may it be a year full of love, laughter, compassion and understanding.  namaste

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Season’s Greetings!

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Wishing you all a wonderful festive season, thoughts go out to anyone who has lost loved ones, those unable to be with family/ friends or those who have family deployed overseas serving their countries. May the festive season be a safe, happy and peaceful time for everyone and the New Year bring much positivity, empathy, peace and many blessings! May you all Laugh. Love. Live – peace and blessings!  Thanks for the support for 2017 and may we continue to share our stories and experiences in 2018! silly_smiley_face_emoji_custom_sticker-r8e359df4e2564b47b2f7855648fdc50d_v9wth_8byvr_540.jpg

 

 

Olde worlde charm!

Our next destination was only a couple of hours away by train so we settled in on the Eurostar and enjoyed the high-speed journey. Originally, we hadn’t planned visiting here as we weren’t sure we could fit it in until my friend advised that is was en route to another destination so it made sense to visit – and we’re so glad we did! We were able to catch up with my relatives – Aunt and cousins whom I have not seen for 20 years! It was lovely to spend a few days exploring and visiting – my husband and daughter got to meet relatives from my side of the family whom they had never met.

We alighted the Eurostar at Midi station in Brussels. My youngest cousin met us and took us to our hotel. It was so nice to see him, the last time I saw him was when he was visiting Australia – he was only 6 years old! After checking into our hotel, we set off to see the city. My cousin advised us that Belgium was not a big city like Sydney. He visited Sydney last year and said Brussels was much smaller, you could drive from one end of the city to the other in 20 minutes, unlike in Sydney.

The first stop for us was adhoc because as we drove past a large cathedral, it caught our eye – my cousin stopped the car so we could admire it and take a few tourist snaps! After that we had a tour around Brussels – he took us to see the Grand PlaceManekin Pis and his girlfriend – Janekin Pis ! We also visited Delirium Cafe to try some Belgium beer  – two different types and found the alcohol strength to be double or more than that in Australia! I took a photo in the pub which I did not check until the evening and my cousin looks as though he had a little too much to drink because his eyes were half closed. I can guarantee that he was sober, it was just my poor photography skills!  After our tour of the city, we went to his mum’s (My Aunty’s) pub to see the rest of my relatives except one who was away on vacation with her family.

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We spent the evening at my Aunt’s pub where my daughter and my eldest cousin’s daughter got along very well even though it was the first time they met. They had interests in common and enjoyed each other’s company. It was lovely to see and the language barrier seemed non-existent! We  had a big family dinner at a lovely Greek- Chinese restaurant (yes, an unusual combination but it worked!) You could order either Greek dishes or Asian dishes and the food was delicious. It was a full first day and a great introduction to the city!

The next day we headed out for a day trip to Bruges which is a  Flemish-speaking  part of Belgium. The Flemish or Flemings (DutchVlamingen) are a Germanic ethnic group native to Flanders, in modern Belgium, who speak Dutch, especially any of its dialects spoken in historical Flanders, known collectively as Flemish Dutch.[5] They are one of two principal ethnic groups in Belgium, the other being the French-speaking Walloons. Flemish people make up the majority of the Belgian population (about 60%)**.

I had  been advised by a few colleagues and friends that if we visited Belgium then we had to visit Bruges. I had asked my cousin if we could visit Bruges when we arrived and he said of course! He was our chaperone, driving us there and taking us around for the day.  Before we arrived in Bruges, my husband kept asking what is in Bruges and why did we have visit, to which I replied that it is the old part of Belgium and supposed to be beautiful. That was an understatement – we were absolutely blown away by the beauty of Bruges! We spent hours walking around looking at the buildings, sights, canals, tasting chocolate, waffles and mussels! It was a feast for all our senses! It seemed as though Belgium never ceased to amaze us, with each day better than the next!

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The city of Bruges was an absolute highlight and we recommend it to anyone visiting Belgium –  it is a must! It is only an hour and a half drive from Brussels or you can also take the train. There is a place in Bruges in my photos that is full of white swans. There is the legend of the Bruges Swans. I’ve included a link to the story so you can read it at your leisure. The history in Europe is so fascinating, we were learning so much in each place we visited!

My cousin also enjoyed Bruges because even though he had been there before, he said there were thingst he hadn’t seen before so it was also a ‘new’ experience for him too. We headed back to Brussels, dropping into my Aunt’s pub to spend a bit of time there and take some last photos. Then my cousin took us to see the Atomium which was lit up at night, it was built for the Brussels world fair in 1958. There is a panoramic restaurant at the top of the structure with gourmet food and views. We didn’t have time to have a look inside the spheres as we were heading to my eldest cousin’s home to have dinner with her family which provided another opportunity for her daughter and mine to spend some time together before we left the next day. We were grateful for the time we did spend in Belgium – being so surprised by the beauty of Belgium and discovering it was such an unexpected highlight of our trip so far!

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The Atomium alight!

My cousin’s husband cooked a wonderful, delicious pasta dinner for us and we were able to sit and catch up. Our girls were able to spend time together and attempt to make slime, it is a big trend at the moment with kids – big and small! We spent some time playing with her younger son with his police chief, hospitals, ambulance, staff and patients! He is currently obsessed police and their vehicles! It was a lovely way to spend our last evening in Belgium.

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We were so grateful to be able to catch up with family and do some sightseeing, ticking off some of our main attractions. It was definitely a place where we put into action Laugh. Love. Live! We were enjoying our European adventure immensely and looking forward to our next destination. We were drinking in each experience with relish – filling our hearts, souls and stomachs with amazing nourishment! Hope you enjoyed this little snapshot of Belgium as much as we did – onwards and upwards to our next stop on our European adventure!

** https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flemish_people

Current mood…

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Capturing the sunrise on Monday morning….

Awakening…

Energies swirling,

Dark, light and colourful.

Restless yet calm,

Clear yet confused,

Sorting through what needs to stay,

And what needs to go.

Priorities changing,

Perceptions moving.

All for the better,

Remembering Life is an endless learning journey…

Healing.