January, 2012

Jan 12

Tacc di Giüst

Jan 12


As Gina said, it’s a new year. A lot has happened in our lives since we last wrote anything here. Loved ones have passed, new friends have been made and, alas, time continues in its unidirectional march forward.

I guess an update of sorts is long overdue. Both of us are astounded that we will have already been in Chiavenna for 2 years come March. Over the last year, Italy has come to feel more and more like our home. Our friends here make it easy to love the place, having so many friends and family visit on such a regular basis has kept us from feeling isolated from our past and the incredible mountains make it hard to leave so I suppose we’re stuck (in the nicest possible way). In the last few months we’ve even started looking at houses in the area – though, by design, we’re being very slow and relaxed in the process towards homeownership.

In the last year we’ve both started new work. Gina’s job up in Switzerland came to an end over the summer (the woman for whom she was covering returned from leave) and she quickly jumped into the deep-end (Who, Gina?) teaching pilates classes at the local dance school and with helping to get a new private physio clinic up and running from scratch. Both jobs are here in Chiavenna, so she’s got the enviable commute of a pleasant stroll to the center. Back in May, I started with a fantastic company based in Australia called Bonobo, working as a developer on iOS (iPhone and iPad) apps and doing the same web-based applications that I was doing previously as a freelancer. I can’t gush enough about how great they’ve been to work with and how wonderful it is that I have a job where I am encouraged to learn so much new and exciting stuff all the time.

In August we were graced by the presence of 3 Smyth siblings (plus Brían) in Chiavenna for a wonderful week of rock climbing, hiking and dinners on the terrazzo. We then moved the party to Zucchello, where Gina’s parent’s house is, and added the rest of the Smyth clan plus partners. At the peak we were 14 people and those of us not lucky enough to have known the Smyths when they were all still in Dublin got a taste of what it must have been like back then. The phrase “beautiful madness” comes to mind. And on the beach in Sestri one afternoon we were informed that Gina will become an aunty this March! Congrats to Darragh and Sinéad!

As if to remind us that life does indeed have two ends, I lost my grandmother in November. I still don’t think that I’ve fully processed what that means – this was the first funeral I’ve ever been to of someone close to me, and she was particularly close to me. A constant source of confidence for me, I can still hear her chastising my Dad, Granddad or anyone else that had the gall to criticize me. She’ll be missed. And even though the trip home was for very sad circumstances it was lovely to be close to the family and to get to spend time with my brother, sister and parents. In the end, I’m sure the laughter and smiles out-weighted the tears. I think grandma would have approved of that.

December was a month full of celebration and eating. Thanksgiving came to Chiavenna in December this year (due to my trip home) and I think I understand why you don’t want Thanksgiving and Christmas so close together. We were barely finished with the leftovers before heading off to Ireland for a non-stop week of eating, drinking and being merry.

Hmm, I set out to write a short update and now I’ve rambled on for ages. I’ll leave you there but we’d like to remind our readers that we’re now taking bookings for 2012 – don’t procrastinate, spots are filling up fast!

Jan 12

New Year

It is a new year. A new clean sheet. We are all capable of change, and now is as good a time as any. I feel that I need to change. Or rather, I need to change how I think.

I need to relax.

Life is not a test or competition. But I treat it like one. There will be no winner at the end. No prizes given to those who fit the most into their days and years. At the end we leave it all behind. One’s worth is not linked directly to how many hours of work they do, or how “productive” their days are. In reality there is no real measure of a person’s worth. Because, again, it is not a competition. Not an exam. Life is not the Leaving Certificate.

I cannot get an A in “life”.

Life is simply an experience. One in which we are blessed with a body that is amazing in its complexity, and a mind with truly incredible potential. And this body and mind enable us to feel a whole rainbow of sensations and emotions. Both the positive and the negative being experiences we should appreciate as things of wonder. We also have the magical capacity to form deep emotional and physical connections with those around us. To love and be loved. All while surrounded by a natural world that is beautiful on so many levels that words fail us.

Life is simply an experience. Of all of this.

Of course being what we are we have set rules and guidelines to follow. The “normal” path of life. What one should do. What is considered a good use of one’s life. Be productive. To-do lists. But I think often we miss the point. We rush towards tomorrow, towards next week, next year. Now is the point. This moment right NOW. The art of simply living, breathing, smelling and sensing the world around us. I need to remember that. And keep remembering it.

Yes life is short, even if right now we feel like we will be forever. But rushing and stressing do not make it last longer. The contrary. My worrying about wasting time, or not being productive enough, or with my fluctuating schedule not always having enough work yet to feel “worthwhile” or “worthy”…this is the waste of time. Waste of life. Yes, I will always keep trying to do my best, that is who I am and I can’t see that changing. But then I need to be able to pause and be happy with that. As it is. And remember that whatever the situation, it too shall pass. All things pass. Both the good and the bad.

It all flies past us regardless.

So my New Year’s resolution is this: To live with my eyes and my heart open. To always be good to those around me, friends and otherwise, sharing the beauty of this life. To relax and remember that I am not living an exam. I cannot get an “A”. And to pause…

…and simply breath.

Happy new year to you all.