Wouldn't stop picking at it

What I like about Italy

Storefront, Norcia, Umbria, Italy, October 2015

Besides the usual – food, wine and handsome faces – here’s a list (in no particular order) of other things I like about Italy: 1) Italians tend to buy small amounts of food every day or every few days, ensuring that ingredients are always fresh and never wasted. 2) Meal preparation is part of daily…

Travel to collect experiences

Prosecco grapes, fall harvest, Marches, Italy, October 2015

I was lent a pair of black rubber boots with sparkles and thick grey socks for the vendemmia – the fall grape harvest, that is. My aunt worried that I might be too cold, but for a Canadian girl, the weather was balmy. It took about five hours, the threat of rain clouds moving us quickly…

To hell with the pursuit of happiness

Detail, Herbert Baglione, Planet Earth, September 2015

According to my Pocket feed, I bookmark too many articles about creativity, productivity and happiness. The first two make sense, because I’m always looking for new exercises for my creative writing workshops, but I just deleted all the happiness articles. The pursuit of happiness is making a lot of people miserable. Surveys tell us where the happiest people live,…

Who do you really need?

Diving into the Aegean, September 2015

After the Dutch Reset, the Greek Redirect. In Holland, weather was a strategy. Carefully scanning the window and the weather apps every morning to determine how many layers to wear, if it was best to wear leather boots or Converse. But in Greece, weather is a commanding military campaign that weakens your senses/defenses with warmth, light and…

What do you really need?

Blue glass heart, Public art, Delft, the Netherlands

We had to get to Schiphol by 7AM. When Donna woke me, the street was dark and hazy, the streetlamp and an ebbing moon creating two pools of weak light in the silver fog. The hour-long drive to the airport was the perfect goodbye to the Netherlands – and to the first week of my sabbatical – allowing…

You’re still single. Now what?

BabyCakes Bakery, NYC

So you’ve read all the articles and followed all of the advice. You learned how to spend Saturday nights alone, how to dine alone and travel alone. You’ve purchased real estate alone and adopted the requisite pet. Your hairdresser has given you a flattering haircut that doesn’t require major upkeep. You own great lingerie and shoes…

On why I’m taking a sabbatical

Street art, Montreal, Spring 2015

I’ve been reminiscing with a nine-year-old recently. My nine-year-old self, that is. An adorable, but weird kid, more comfortable with books than with other kids. I learned how to ride a bike late and was comically clumsy. In fact, I made so many trips to the emergency room, I can even today remember the inside of the vice principal’s…

Self care

Loggia, Ascoli Piceno, Italy, May 2014

If you can effectively tune out the online commentary, magazine chatter and well-intentioned, but oftentimes stilted advice of people around you. If you can devote yourself to small acts of kindness every day, like drinking good iced coffee, buying new earrings and going on long walks in the cool evenings. If you can spend a lot of time with those people who know…


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