I quit my job and went to Italy

I haven’t blogged in a while.

I’ve been pre-occupied for most of 2014…with deciding how and when to quit my job.

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this.

But I did it…and I am free of the insurmountable amount of stress I was experiencing.

Six years ago I started to make plans to go to Italy.  Here’s the proof.

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Quitting my job and planning for Italy all happened in six weeks.

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Over the past year, I kept reading about fear, taking chances, freeing oneself from obstacles, being true to yourself, being closer to God, being more spiritual, and living the life you want. Reading the stories and tributes brought tears to my eyes. I knew I needed to make a change but felt stuck.

the cinque terre trail w/Bob

With the support of my dear husband, Bob, I was able to move forward.  My journey is told in what moved me in the pictures below.

Santa Maria Novella Church Florence

The beauty art and loving God.

the road less traveled

The trails.

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The pathways

stairs in Vernazza tower

The stairwells

doors in Vernazza

The doors

laundry in Volterra

The windows and clean laundry

bicycle in lucca

The ride

riding a bike in Lucca

The ride on cobblestone streets.

locks on the cinque terre trail

Locks of love.

view from Hotel Pasquale

The beauty of nature from my window.

If you are reading this and you’re stuck in your life: keep the faith, read, learn about yourself, pray, meditate, connect with colleagues and friends, and listen to life stories.

Keep Calm and Dream Big

Evolution of a blogger

I am responding to Virginia Views inquiring what is our evolution as bloggers.

Why did you start your blog?  

I started this blog after reaching age 50 years of age.  Reaching a half century of my life: childhood, school, college,  marriage, raising children, grad school, working, keeping a home; it’s all hard work: rewarding and exhausting. It’s a culmination and a relief. You exist. You made a life. You matter. You made a difference.

Is that still why you blog?

The passion comes and goes with this blog. I also have a food blog, writing and cooking my adventures in making recipes I’ve never attempted before. The material is a little easier to come by.

Has your site gone in a different direction than you’d planned?

Yes for both blogs. I try to complain less and reflect more in this blog. The writing waxes and wanes with inspriation.

The food blog is more an personal adventure than a group challenge . It is extremely difficult to get the cooking club members together due to family obligations, travel and schedules. But I keep plugging along.

Thanks Donna for your inspiration to write today.

We must remember to enjoy the ride. It’s all good.

Wyoming 7-16-11 #1

The one car couple

My husband and I are now empty nesters. Woo hoo! We raised our glasses and toasted that both our children have jobs and paychecks.  One just graduated from college and the other is halfway through. 

That is the good news. Here is the bad news. We have one vehicle.

So you ask….Why did you give away your cars to your children? They have jobs, they can buy their own vehicles?!

We decided, as a couple, that it would be easier, initially, for them to get on their way without any drama, to take the two cars and get to work. My husband and I are more flexible with working together and could share a vehicle.  And it is the summer and he makes a habit of biking to work several days a week.

Week One.  We drove in together on Monday.

 “Isn’t this nice? I really like spending the morning with you driving into work.”

After two days, “Didn’t I tell you? I need the car today, I have a business lunch.” 

 “What???” I replied, “Why didn’t you tell me that earlier?” 

After the first day, the bond of driving in together was wearing thin.

Week Two. I decided I would take the bus on the days my husband needed the car. I have a co-worker who lives on my side of town and she was glad to teach me the ropes of the bus route.  So Monday morning I walk to the bus-stop for the 100 Express. I stand there proudly. I condensed my 4-5 bags I usually pack into my car, into a backpack and a water bottle to carry.  I’m standing there with another rider and then the 100 rolls up.

 I say to the rider “Have you seen the 100 Express?”

“Oh” he said, “it already came by.”  

Deflated, I walked back home and my spouse gave me a ride into work.  After work, I summoned my courage, to take the bus home. I can do it! This isn’t that hard! So I walk to the bus stop outside my place of work and luckily one of my patients is also waiting to take the same bus. He was so kind. He showed me how to transfer at the downtown bus station to pick up my transfer home. And I made it. I even read my Time magazine and completed a continuing education form.

I told my husband if this sharing a vehicle was going to work we would have to comunicate.  I announced I had a dinner date with the girlfriends on Wednesday and a hair appointment on Thursday after work.

 “Oh” he announced, “I have a dermatologist appointment on Thursday. ”

 “Oh”, I announced, “You need to reschedule because it is so hard for me to get an appointment and my hair is really in need of highlights and I have split ends.”

He was nice and cancelled his appointment.

Wednesday ended up being a disaster. My husband had originally agreed to ride his bicycle home, but life intervened. He had just got a call that day from a co-worker in another state that her spouse had been killed riding his bicycle. This devastated my husband, who, by the way, had a bicycle accident with a light pole last summer. I think the PTSD got stirred up like a bee hive. I told him I would come and get him at work and he could take me to the restaurant and I would get a ride home. Well the traffic was horrendous. What usually is a 15-20 minute drive to my husband’s work from mine, ended up being a one hour bumper to bumper drag. I left work at 5 pm, I got to the restaurant at 6:15p m and my husband got home at nearly 7 pm. Arrrrghhhh.

By the time Friday rolled around, he was feeling less stressed and biked to and from work. It was a good thing because I felt terribly ill with a headache and left work two hours early. I also had to pick the dog up from the groomers as well.

My husband and I are extremely independent people. As my husband says, “I don’t like depending on other people as they usually let me down. ”

Last Saturday we spent a large part of the day together, driving to look at a new car and driving to get new tires on our only vehicle. While waiting for the tires, we went to lunch together. When was the last time we did that? It was a lovely walk to lunch and back to the tire store.

Week Three. Much better, The week was planned, communication happened. I rode the bus home two days, he bicycled to work two days. We car-pooled to and from work Thursday because we had a dentist appointment at the same time, together. 

A shift has happened. We are talking to each other. My independent husband is learning to trust me again. We are taking a deep breath and realize we only have each other and the dog right now. We are rediscovering each other at mid-life sans children.  

I guess this empty nest thing might be good for us….until the grown child comes home to visit? Just as long as he doesn’ t stay long term.

Parents are just people

Turner Classic Movies showed Splendor in the Grass the 1961 classic with Natalie Wood and Warren Beatty last night. I sat down and watched the whole movie. I was riveted to the tale of two teenagers who fall in love during Roaring Twenties and advent of the Stock Market crash. The financial state of the country from riches to rags and recovery mirrored the tale of these two sweethearts.

The couple, Bud and Deanie, are faced with how the fairy tale of  love fades and how heartbreak changes them. Deanie experiences an emotional breakdown when she and Bud are no longer a couple. It is uncomfortable for her friends and parents to witness and accept. Her mother nearly breaks down when the experts say that her daughter needs professional help. Mrs Loomis can’t believe that what is troubling her daughter can’t be fixed at home.

Near the end of the film, Deanie is speaking with her psychiatrist about whether she can handle seeing her parents again. On a previous visit her mother talked incessantly abouting wanting her little girl back home again. Deanie acknowledged she was not that little girl anymore. The psychiatrist then uttered, “Parents are just people”.  And that was the phrase that hit me smack in the eye.

I am almost an empty nester.  I haven’t been able to put my thoughts into words until I saw that movie last night. My son graduated from college a week ago. His growth into adulthood has been painful for the entire family. He has struggled with every part of studying, taking tests, caring for himself, and social relationships.  But he had grown in many aspects of his academia. 

He lived in the dorms and an apartment the first two years of college and then moved back home the last two. I didn’t want to be the bitch of a mother, but I was. I set my boundaries that he needed to do basic things to be living with his parents in our house. He rarely accomplished taking a shower using the soap; he never brushed his teeth; and rarely did his laundry. He was loud and brash, playing his video games late into the night  just a door away from our bedroom. His mantra to me was, “Whatever you tell me to do I am going to do the opposite”.

He will be moving within a week to start his new job in the next state and six hours away. He hasn’t written his thank you cards and he hasn’t made a “To Do” list. He has celebrated his graduation by lounging around and doing nothing for the past week. I don’t want to be the bitchy parent anymore. I have advised him of my boundaries. I am available until Friday and he will need to make an appointment if he needs my help before leaving. I am planning on going to a hotel or to my friend’s house for the weekend while he packs up.  I am not going to be yelled at because he can’t find anything. I refuse to have the expectation of helping him when he waits until the last minute to throw everything together.

No parent wishes to see their child struggle. It is innate to want to prevent the pain.  I don’t have super powers to make everything right anymore, because my son has not practiced his coping skills. I think my son has been mad at me because I don’t want to take care of him any more. He does a lousy job of taking care of himself. My daughter told me that I have done everything to try and teach him but he didn’t want to do it.

But parents are just people. The last several months I have tried to accept my son for who he is. Hot mess and all, it has been hard for me. I asked him to accept me for who I am. I, like him, want to be respected and loved just like everyone on the planet. And children grow up and they are just people too.  Best wishes to you my son.

The Fearless Cook is sick of Italian Chicken

 The fourth Italian Chicken dish I challenged myself to make is Chicken Cacciatore. It is a traditional, country-type Italian stew with cut-up chicken pieces, garlic, wine and leftover vegetables.
 
 
Take 6-8 bone-in chicken thighs with skins on and braise with olive oil in a Dutch oven on the stove top. After braising for 5 minutes on each side, set aside and remove the skin. Remove all but 1 TBSP of oil from the Dutch oven.
 
 
For the sauce, saute one minced onion, 1 tsp salt, 4 minced garlic and 6 oz of diced portabello mushrooms until soft.
 
 

Add 1/2 C chicken broth, 14 oz can diced tomatoes, 1 1/2 C dry red wine, 1 TBSP flour. After cooking over medium heat bring to a simmer and add 1 tsp thyme,  1 tsp ground sage, and the rind of parmesan cheese.

Add all the chicken pieces into the stew, then place in a 300 degree oven for 30-40 minutes until the chicken is completely cooked. Remove the parmesan rind before serving. Pour the sauce over the chicken pieces and serve with a side of  fettucini or egg noodles.

What did the Fearless Cook learn?

Lesson #1

I don’t like red wine with chicken. It made the chicken meat red and such an unappealing color. The Chicken Marsala – my first Italian Chicken- was a little better because the chicken didn’t soak in the wine and tomato sauce. I took six pictures of the finished product and they all looked slimy and odd. I saved your eyes from viewing it.

Lesson #2

 The sauce was excellent, tasting like Julia Child’s Boeuf Bourguignon. It just didn’t go with the chicken. I wanted to eat that sauce with some beef. The recipe mentioned an alternative way to making the dish substituting white for red wine, white for portabello mushrooms and tarrogon for the thyme. Maybe I would’ve like it better with white wine, but I doubt it.

Lesson #3

I was so organized making this dish. I read the recipe in advance, prepped all the ingredients, and worked through each step smoothly. But I doubt if I’ll ever make this dish again.

Italian Chicken Finale

I have a little bit of pride completing this challenge.  I have plenty of tasks on my plate these days (pun intended), but I remained focused, despite the craziness swirling around me.  Ta dah!

Ranking the Italian Chickens

Most Favorite?  Chicken Piccata – I loved the lemon and capers. Easy and light dish.

Family Favorite? Chicken Parmesan – It was so popular I made it twice during this challenge.

Least Favorite? Chicken Cacciatore – Are you surprised?