All posts by francesantonia

Tuscan Wandering.

Every window and every door of this traditional Tuscan villa offers a glimpse of postcard Tuscan wonder. This vista the view from the bathroom. When the end of the work week arrived last night, rather than a knock off drink the husband and I took ourselves off on a knock off hike! A wander out the front door and up into the Tuscan wonder.

I’ve given up my running schedule while I’m here to hike this trail each day. It is spectacular. And it’s simply Tuscany. The colours, the rolling hills and valleys, olive groves, vineyards, bountiful fruit trees, earthy brick and concrete buildings as far as the eyes can see, wildflowers at ground level and expansive skies above. The buzzing of the flies during the day and the mozzies at night remind us there’s always some discomfort! However, dips in the pool, a fan to sleep near and Italian gastronomy more than compensate for this.

My legs hurt in new places. I tricked them with these hills and the hiking. They were so used to running across flat Holland. This is the hiking I love. Wild wonder. Adventurous trails with surprises along the way. It’s good to change it up, do something different with your legs and for your mind don’t you think? I feel a familiar sense of myself on these trails. Hiking through and across countries. The solitude of simply walking.

It’s a weird time in the word to be travelling. The familiarity of being here, the slowness of the days, the long nights and the unfurling of this unplanned time away doesn’t feel like travel. It feels like living. Living within a community, quietly up on the hill and in the local wildness. This is slow travel, this is home for now, this time here behind the Tuscan windows.

#underthetuscansun

#writingstreak

#somewherenewwithlife

 

 

 

 

Another Tuscan Day. Another Tuscan Door.

Another Tuscan day, another Tuscan door. This one into the kitchen. Sometimes we don’t know what it is we need until we go on a treasure hunt. In one door or out another. And there are many, many ways to hunt for treasure.

Yesterday I hiked in the bush and up the hill. There was treasure there. I felt the deep joy a hike brings me. Not the flat Dutch walk kind hike, but the gritty, rocky path, up hills, down hills kind of hike. So many good thoughts, ideas and vibes out there on the trail. I miss it. I need to find ways to do more of it.

This month I wrote every day. There was treasure there. All the little daily sprinkles of gold and of course the solid nugget. I’ve graduated from writing here every day to writing 1,667 words (a chapter) a day of my camino story.

I ran every day for 140 days. There was treasure there. I ran through the beginning of and then the quarantine period of a global pandemic. It kept me moving forward. It guaranteed the circulation of the hormones I would need to get through this time and arrive sturdily at the other end.

On a whim I decided to cook a book. This one. Rome. Centuries In An Italian Kitchen. (This photo is my home kitchen not the Tuscan kitchen I’m currently in.) There is treasure in following whims. Would I have been as drawn to Tuscany if I hadn’t begun project The Italian Kitchen at my house? Would I realise the doorway into the kitchen would  be the door I needed to walk into to find a familiar friend. Simplicity. Food has felt heavy for me for a while. I’m not always kind to myself with food. I needed to find a simpler way, a lighter way.

Breakfast was melon with prosciutto. Oh my, this is a spectacular flavour balance. And so easy. Every mouthful heaven. We don’t need to cook like a masterchef contestant to create beautiful food. We can do that too by keeping things simple.

(Sorry for this one Sue).

A belief in something. There’s treasure there. We all have different ways in which we make sense of the world and create our meaning. I look for the coincidences. The synchronous happenings and I do like to wonder what the animals who arrive on my path mean.

I was stung by a wasp a few days ago. I sat on it. Oh la la that’s a painful experience, and then it’s a really bloody itchy one. And I was stung not once! But twice. The second as I shoo it from my stinging with pain butt cheek. I was a bit lacking in direction and motivation this afternoon I went in search of what the arrival of a wasp might mean.

“Wasp symbolism is reminding you that merely thinking about your dreams will not make them a reality as quickly as going out and doing it. In other words, this spirit animal insists that you make a plan. Then you must keep working towards it and let nothing get in your way. Similar to the Snail, the Wasp meaning says that goals require perseverance, desire, and action. Thus you must apply your passion to the reality you wish to achieve!

Wasp symbolism is letting you know that resistance to change by definition, is self-sabotage. Therefore it’s time to allow yourself the notion that all things are possible and that you deserve to have all your dreams come true. The Wasp meaning asks you to be the best you can be!” Spirit Animals.

Now friends I’m a bit tired after a few nights of reduced sleep. It’s rather hot here (36 degrees) for one from the Nth. I know! I’ve gone soft since leaving Australia. And I’m tempted to do nothing. Which is of course completely fine. I already skipped a training run this week. But I had to take note of the wasp symbolism!

Like someone who needs AA I need my streaks. Do nothing about my creative dreams when it’s challenging and it’s a slippery slope. I need to keep the fire burning. If I don’t I fear it will all simply fall away. I need to be accountable. The streak has proven in this phase of my life to be the key for me. It takes me beyond simply thinking about the dream.

So I fired up the keyboard. Snapped a photo of the kitchen door and popped in here to write. From here I know I will continue moving in the right direction because the writing is part of the plan, it’s the work I need to do to realise the dream.

Also I’ve been undecided about ending this streak because I still need it. I need the rhythm, the process, the courage it takes to try, the risk (to find my limits) and of course the treasure.

In writing here today the simple answer (the treasure) appears. I will simply do either or. Write here or write a chapter. I need both doors to remain open. One where I write a story from the past and one where I write a myself into the story of my future.

Thanks for being here. Silently and sometimes with comments. Both are fine. Both are appreciated. You are appreciated. There are never expectations. I hope my whimsy today reminds you to go digging for treasure if you’re in need of some magic.

#writingstreak

A Little Story Of Synchronicity From My Tuscan Desk

I was a little way into my writing streak when I happened on a heron. I was out running. I hadn’t seen a heron for a while so I had to stop. In the past I’ve written about heron’s.  What are you here for? I wondered. Why am I seeing you now? And yet, of course I knew. I didn’t get the message last time. I wasn’t ready. I had more hurdles to jump.

I see a lot of myself in the totem meaning of a heron.

It’s the resourcefulness and self reliance of the heron I’m drawn to. It’s the reason I think it continues to show up for me. Use what you’ve got. Adapt to your setting. Grow something new with this opportunity. It’s something I’ve done my entire life. But in this phase it’s been more of a struggle.

Writing here daily, my #writingstreak happened after I had a fall whilst out running. I wrote To Fall Or Not To Fall. Deep down I knew I hadn’t tried hard enough with writing this camino story of mine. And yet I didn’t feel ready or able to go back to the book.

It felt like too big a challenge to simply go back to writing the book. So I decided to write daily. Running daily had proven to be an excellent way to start something with running. Why not see where writing each day would take me? It could only be good!

The night I’d seen the heron I started to watch some YouTube videos about writing a memoir. Meh interesting but lots about plans, order and software. I like the idea of all of that, but it’s not me. I’d have to change too much. Then I happened on a video interview between Joanna Penn and Rachael Herron on how to draft you memoir.

This interview completely engaged me. Rachael basically says Just.Write.The.Book. Don’ edit, don’t stop, just get on with and write a draft. She talked about NaNoWriMo. National Novel Writing Month. The annual writing project where during the month of November people use the month to write a  50,000 novel. Yes, an entire novel. Each day 1,667 words.

Hmmm I thought. There’s something in this. I’d heard it before. Just write the darn thing.

Later that night I looked up Rachael’s website. It was then her surname dawned on me. Herron. Sure it had a double ‘r’ but still it’s not a stretch for me to find some synchronicity there. I signed up to her email subscriber lists and let her ideas sit with me.

That week I also received a comment on my blog from a writer whose blog I went on to read. I happened on this post of his. Write A Shitty First Draft. I Dare You. The penny was starting to drop.

“The only kind of writing is rewriting.”

― Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast

I already had the structure, a plan. I blogged my camino. I already had the backstory behind it. I’d lived it. I’d even blogged that too! Those of you who have been around for a while remember Choosing Simplicity and The Gentle Intention? What I didn’t have was a first draft to start rewriting, or to call a book.

I continued to write daily. Through the easy days and the blocks. I kept my eyes open for little stories to tell. I tried different things. I learnt that I can write each day. I learnt there are stories everywhere and I realised how I write is how I write. I write non fiction and non ‘how to’s’. What I write is personal stories. This is my style. This is the style I find meaning in. It’s the style that flows from my dreamy world and into the keyboard through my fingers.

I am a memoirist.

I also learnt to not feel guilt or scared or ashamed of the time I give to writing, or of my writing. It became something normal I did. ‘Are you writing your blog’ the kids ask. They’d watch Bondi Rescue and I’d write. Sometimes in the morning, sometimes the afternoon. If time was short I’d shorten what I wrote but I still wrote. Everyday.  Every day for 31 days. I’d notice errors after I’d posted. I’d correct them and move on. I’m sure it will happen today too. No confidence has been lost to mistakes. It’s all practice. It’s being unafraid to fall.

‘Let us risk the wildest places, Lest we go down in comfort, and despair.’ – Mary Oliver

To write for me is to take the risk into the wildest place. The risk of failure is far more attractive to me that the risk of comfort and despair.  Except there is no failure. I am writing a book and let’s face it, the chances of it being published are next to slim. I am totally cool with that. I am writing the story because I want to write it. The story wants me to write it. I am prepared now. I have the skills to get the first draft written. Beyond that I’ll develop the skills required. I’m resourceful, I’m a heron. And dear heron I’m in the wildest place. Writing myself into adventures and creating a story from a story. To me there is no wilder place.

 

#writingstreak

#day31/31

#theplacesyouwillgo

#cookthebook

#writethebook

#steertheship

#fromwhereIstand

 

 

The Simplicity Of Tuscany.

It all begins when the shutters are opened and the morning arrives into the room. Waking with the sweet luxury of not knowing or needing to know the time. There was a hint it was later than it felt but only if you looked. Sun visible through edges of the window frames. Each day here in Tuscany I’m reminded of  a certain way of living, of choosing a life of simplicity. Of where I can cut back further.

Breakfast.

Lunch.

Dinner.

Three meals. Fresh salad. Vegetables picked from a jar. Meat finely sliced. Mostly local. Perhaps not the avocado. All three with the same condiments. Extra Virgin Olive Oil (Italian), Balsamic Vinegar (Modena, from the closest province) pepper and salt.

I ask you this question … if you could choose two condiments other than salt and pepper what would they be? For me these two are it. The excess on the plate is soaked with local day old bread. Hard because preservatives are not added.

An afternoon aperitivo to relax into the time between when the day is finished and the evening starts. Another day of writing. A chapter added. Twenty eight to go. I can do it though. I showed myself. Today is the 30th day of blog writing, little letters in your inbox.

Not all days are smooth there was a double wasp sting last night. Me. Painful, I share this with you. Painful. Glad for ice treats in the freezer to numb the bites. Watch where you sit in Tuscany I warn you. All resolved now, just the mozzie bites still itch.

Once I publish this post the evening will begin. The time to tidy, organise, sit, chat and eat. It’s a bbq tonight. The music will play and the joking about when mum sat on a wasp, screamed and ripped her clothes off will begin!

I am glad for simple things. For a live of simplicity.  For having the courage to let go of the guilt I used to feel when I used my time to write. It’s a beautiful hobby and it is this hobby that brought this dream of simplicity to us.

#writingstreak

#day30of31

#choosesimplicity

#itallstartedthere

 

 

 

Sun Kissed In Tuscany.

Behind the brown shutters are windows and doors with bright red frames. Opening these are how a sun kissed morning begins in Tuscany. Closing them after a long and late night spent eating and chatting is how evenings in Tuscany end.

Food that is grown under kiss of the sun makes for a perfect lunch. There’s a flavour that can’t be ignored. And a reminder of how simple one’s lunch can be.

Herbs for the kitchen, grown in the  garden are illuminated by the kiss of the sun.

A healthy glow and contented manner,  the evidence of a sun kissed boy’s day of play.

A house built to withstand the kiss of the sun. Terracotta tiles on the floor and in the ceiling, thick walls of concrete and brick archways.

The kiss of the sun willing a writer to write on. A day spent in the first 13,000 words of a story. A memoir of a long walk and a time leading towards this life now. A time where questions were asked, actions were taken and the leap of faith that happened. The Tuscan sun enabling the needs of all to be met and comfort to the writer when the doubts set in. The power of his kiss is strong. Write, write he assertively guides. Now is the time. It matters not if the written words see me, the light of day. It matters they are written. That the writer writes the story. For her. Her story.

 

*edited to change her to him, my instinct was that the sun is a more masculine energy and a little note from a friend confirmed this. xx

#writingstreak

#day29/31

#writingon

#writingthrough

#writing

#ishibernationcalling

#thewindsarechanging