How Sunday Should Look

“It is this broken road with pitfalls and sharp turns and unexpected traverses that has brought me joy and adventure. ”  ― Alice Walker

This is how Sundays should look:

Wake up happy and give thanks. Check.

Delight in good people, fine food, beautiful weather. Check.

Run a little, walk a lot in great big woods. Marvel at the seasons changing. Check.

Laugh out loud at the old dog’s antics. Check.

Have faith. Check.

Only thing better would be you here with us.

Yes, you.

“Oh, she say. God loves all them feelings. That’s some of the best stuff God did. And when you know God loves ’em you enjoys ’em a lot more. You can just relax, go with everything that’s going, and praise God by liking what you like.” – Alice Walker, The Color Purple

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Blessing 744

Scenes from a walk Sunday, September 11, 2011. This first shot seems perfect given all the 9/11 coverage:

Do you see the couple gathering chestnuts in this photo? They loved Mufasa & straightened themselves up from their hunched over chestnut gathering positions to pet him.

You know how in the States we’re divided along Red state/Blue state lines? In Switzerland there’s a class or snobbiness/formality division that may be best illustrated by people’s opinion of dogs: there are those who believe, as this couple does, that mixed breeds are best; those who’d never stoop to the mixed breed, and those who’d never have animals around at all because they might get a stray hair on a navy blue Armani suit or in their Porsche Carrera.

This couple reminded me of Italy & Ticino… it’s coming on the time of year for truffles and chestnuts. I need someone to go to the truffle festivals with… who’s in?


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DISPATCH: My Own Nine Hundred Acre Wood

One of the things I most love about coming home after long journeys is rediscovering the place I’ve chosen to lay my head.

In A.A. Milne‘s Winnie the Pooh series, Piglet, Eyeore, Tiger, Kanga, Roo & friends roamed the Hundred Acre Wood (actually Five Hundred Acre Wood in Ashdown Forest in East SussexEngland).

Right outside my door, I’ve a Nine Hundred Acre Wood of my own. Every day I roam its hills and grassy knolls. On each walk I’m reminded that the simple things in life bring as much joy as the giant, out-of-the-ordinary adventures.


The light pouring through the trees reminds me to look up more often.


Sometimes I’m reminded that to stay on the path and keep moving forward is enough.


Each walk reminds me that we share the earth with all sorts of creatures, large and small.


This one loves our walks most of all.

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3 reasons I love Zurich

I’ve officially lived in Zurich for over 2 months. Here are 3 reasons I love it:

Zurich on a winter night
Zurich on a winter night

1. Public Transportation

My friend Bill is committed to environmental sustainability in ways that astound me. He’s devoted himself to permaculture reforestation of the planet and built WeForest, an international not-for-profit organization combating global warming. He walks his talk and so also does not travel by plane. For this year’s TED he’s traveling all the way to the US by container ship. Amazing.

Bill’s commitment inspires me to do what I can to make my life more environmentally sustainable; I’ve sold my car and am living solely on public transport. This wouldn’t work in many places, but in Zurich it’s easy, fast and phenomenally affordable. Buses, trams and trains interconnect and the schedules are online. From my house I can be in the airport in 33 minutes. Imagine: no insurance, no gas costs, no maintenance… I love it!

2. History

From the Landesmuseum’s digital displays of human migrations over thousands of years to Marc Chagall’s windows in the Fraumunster, to the slightly cheesy décor in the Zeughauskeller restaurant, I’ve enjoyed living with the old and new side by side.

3. Vibrance

I have gone out and done fun things more in the last month than in the previous four years in Lugano. It’s such a joy to be a part of the quiet vibrance that is Zurich — it’s not New York or even Boston, and I am glad for that. There is a pulse, an excitement, opportunities and possibilities here that are palpable, though. Asian & Vegetarian restaurants (we didn’t have those in Lugano), Christmas markets, dancing, movies in English… I love it!

Zurich on a winter day
Zurich on a winter day
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Tuesday Tidbit: Vulnerability Practice (Ugh.)

Brené Brown and I know a lot of the same people, but don’t know each other. It’s too bad, too, because in her TEDx talk she says (at about 13:54 and it’s FUNNY):

“You know how there are people that are, like, when they realize that vulnerability and tenderness are important… they kind-of surrender and walk into it?

A) That’s not me and
B) I don’t even hang out with people like that.

For me, it was a year-long street fight. It was a slugfest.

Vulnerability pushed; I pushed back.”

HA! Amen, sister! Who needs vulnerability when you could be, well, pretty much anything but vulnerable?

She and I could make everything all justifiable and have sooo much research and so many degrees to back it up!  But by golly I’m with her and every day seeing the impacts now of how busy I’ve made my life… I make my life busy and share the highlights on Twitter then I don’t have to tell the truth.

I’m not sure what I’m afraid you might find out… or what I’m afraid I might find out… but I’ve been getting this message from all fronts to be more vulnerable… so here’s the truth:

A few things happened this week that brought this home like a ton o’ bricks on my head. Thank you Saturday night carousers (you know who you are) and Marianne and my SuperHero girlfriends for providing the opportunity for this revelation. Felt like turning a corner…

For years I have been crystal clear about what I want my life to look like. I had it on my wall:

collage final

Then I made some choices that were not consistent with it.

Then I tried to force my circumstancs into this image for years because, you know, I’m pretty powerful! (You can imagine how well that worked. Whoops.)

Then I decided it was too late for me, that I’d screwed up too badly, lost too much time, that as penance I’d never be able to have the life I actually wanted. I took it down off the wall and threw it away. I’ve focused on the wonder & joy of what I do have, and that’s a lot.

As you can imagine, though, underneath I’ve been very, very sad.

This Tuesday Tidbit is good news! Two sentences this week, uttered different days by different people, one male, one female, one on the phone, another in a wine bar, made me realize I can stop this mourning. I don’t need to give up on that vision — now I can’t imagine why I did. I rediscovered what makes my heart sing! It might not look exactly like this, but by God it’s going to have this warmth, this energy.

What I really want right now is simple: somebody who wants to come over to cook and eat this Pappardelle with Veal Ragu with me, preferably after a long hike in the woods. I have a bottle of Chianti that was in the cantina under my house for over two years. It’s going to be great…

Now, who’s in?

ADDENDUM: ever since I had this revelation (that this is still possible, it’s not too late, I don’t have to give up on it), I’ve had Stevie Wonder’s “Overjoyed” playing in my head. Corny, but totally true.

Where I’ve Landed

Before I moved into this apartment 2 weeks ago I was telling people, “I only signed a year lease. I’m not sure if I’m going to like it there…” Blah, blah, blah.


Here’s a look at the first night in the new place: Nothing had been delivered yet. Picture two floors of empty space. All I had was a twin mattress on the floor downstairs and a couple of suitcases. I’m getting ready to go to sleep, so I walk down the stairs to find this:

Mufasa new apt
"Not sure where you're sleeping, Mom, there's only room for one..."

He thought it looked just right for him! I shooed him off, went to sleep, and in the middle of the night he crawled in and spooned! He had the whole apartment available! He makes me laugh every single day.

So here’s the neighborhood: when you look down the street, you can see the hills on the other side of the lake, but not the lake itself. Looking up the street is the best part, though. We’re on the very edge of a giant forest with miles and miles of trails. Mufasa, of course, thinks this is grand, and since my iron levels have gone back up, I feel like running for the first time in a couple years.

down the street

up the street


M walking in forest

Apartment’s still a mess, but I adore it. You must come for dinner!

living room ZRH

The best part of being here has been that the bus departs from very near my place and whisks me into the heart of Zurich in just 14 minutes. So parties, drinks with new people, work, it’s all nearby.

It’s a gorgeous day in Zurich today, so we’re going for a long, long walk in the woods…

XpatAdventures’ Big Day: Boldly Going

Today’s a big day for XpatAdventures:

1. I’m a guest poster over at Anastasia Ashman‘s expat+HAREM, a beautiful, resource-filled site & growing community of expats online
2. at Bindu Wiles’ fabulous Shed Project – join her!

I didn’t plan to guest post on 2 blogs today; it’s a coincidence. How cool is that?!

3. The timing couldn’t be more perfect. It’s also MOVING Day here at XpatAdventures headquarters in Lugano.


The Serbian moving guys arrived at 8 a.m. I’d slept two hours and still wasn’t ready. Mom’s been working herself silly to get things sorted and packed.

If you read the post on Bindu’s site, you’ll see I got over Shedding stage I was at then: abject denial and irritation. That was a few weeks ago. Today I’m still a little sad… I’m sad because this apartment, this tiny village, the garden in the backyard… it’s all so gorgeous and because I didn’t have the life I’d envisioned here. Work, friends, romance & partnership… none of them are here. It is time to move on, and I am deeply, deeply ambivalent about it.

I had this moment around lunch time today, though, the moment I’ve been longing for. As I stepped away from the self-storage unit that holds almost all my earthly belongings, I realized I am totally free. I can do anything! Sometimes I let material stuff and bad relationships limit me. Today I am out from under them. The world is my oyster; the future’s wide open. I breathed a huge sigh of relief and found myself driving through lunchtime Lugano traffic with a grin on my face.

And I’ve realized something lately… it’s about exploration. You know the subtitle of this blog is “…because not all who wander are lost.”  Though lost, I guess, could be a word to describe me of late, it’s really about exploration. I am drawn to exploration. Questing, seeking, trying new things and ideas, meeting new people and introducing them to others, baking with a dash of this and a handful of that just because maybe it’ll work… it’s part of my way of doing things, and it makes this life I lead possible. I’ve always said I’d try almost anything once, maybe twice just to make sure the results from the first time were typical. I love an extremely safe sense of danger (if you can imagine that) when I try something new, when the possibilities are boundless. It makes life sweeter to me.

Is it like that for you, too?

Today I reclaim my Explorer self (and picture Patrick Stewart at the helm of the Starship Enterprise every time I think about it, I swear) No more pansy expating for me – it’s time for boldly exploring. Three packed suitcases are lined up now where the china cabinet used to be. One’s packed with spring suits for Brazil; one’s packed with vacation clothes for Turkey; one’s packed with gloves and hat because it will be colder and probably rain in Amsterdam. I have no apartment right now but by God I have these adventures! Feeling a little bolder these days… who’s with me?

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Go through this door or you will not go through…

There’s an image and Adrienne Rich poem I posted five years ago that I keep thinking about lately. They fit with finding a new narrative for this decade that’s well upon us now, and with Kelly Corrigan in her video daring each of us to suspend reality and step through the door that will make us express our true ambitions… and also with a Mary Oliver poem (The Journey) Swirly Girl Christine read to me while we stood in a cave in Petra last week. (How often does that happen?!)

They’re all about doors, choices, picking a trajectory, stepping into what’s next and new. The words keep playing in my head, “Either you will go through this door or you will not go through.  … It is only a door.”  Are you on the precipice of something new, too? Enjoy!

green door Gandria
my friend Lori Wostl & I happened upon this door in Gandria, Switzerland May 2006

Either you will
go through this door
or you will not go through.

If you go through
there is always the risk
of remembering your name.

Things look at you doubly
and you must look back
and let them happen.

If you do not go through
it is possible
to live worthily

to maintain your attitudes
to hold your position
to die bravely

but much will blind you,
much will evade you,
at what cost who knows?

The door itself
makes no promises.
It is only a door.
-Adrienne Rich