Pass the Flux Capacitor!

Sicily is an amazing place.  It’s as if time has stopped.  Cell phone coverage is sporadic, at best, internet is impossible unless your hotel provides service and air conditioning is a commodity. I have stepped into a time warp.  Traveling through the towns of my ancestors, I have found that traditions have not changed. It felt as though I sat in the DeLorean with Michael J Fox and we went back in time.

The people of Sciacca still have a deep devotion to Madonna del Soccorso.  Mid August they celebrate her feast day and the fisherman carry the statue of the saint on their backs throughout the town, much like the Italian feasts in Boston.  For a funeral, they carry the casket from the church to the cemetery, just like what we see in “The Godfather.”

In Sciacca, I found the records of my great-grandparents, Cologero LaRosa and Caterina Piazza. I found out their dates of birth, addresses and parents’ names. All these records were in a building that was hundreds of years old and were in handwritten ledgers.  The women helping me were so cute.  Because my great-grandparents’ last names are so common, it would take days to find living relatives. So I took down all the information I could and proceeded to the nearest ceramic shop for a reminder of my visit.

We found the most amazing sculpture of Madonna del Soccorso being carried by at least 30 fisherman.  We met the artists and visited their studio. They told us about the statue.  The faces on the fisherman are real men of Sciacca.  I cannot wait to display this beautiful piece of my heritage in my home.

More important than my artwork is the lesson I take with me from Sciacca which is, once again, simplicity and a sense of what’s really important. Staying connected to the world via technology is not a priority for them.  Their families, their crafts and devotion to God through the Madonna are their lives. Distractions are minimal.  Conversing over espresso in the square is the highlight of their day.  They interact, socialize face to face.

I hope I can live what I have learned.

Tell me what’s going on in your life.  I want to hear from you!

Wishing you love, balance and peace.

Amore & Baci (Love & Kisses)

Just Steph

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Travel Quote

Hi There,

Here is the exact quote from Matthew Kelly, author of “The Rhythm of Life,” on Travel: “travel opens our minds to different cultures, philosophies, and world views. Travel opens our hearts to the people of foreign lands and their different traditions and creeds. Travel dissolves the stains of prejudice that infect our hearts and societies. Money spent on travel is money well spent on an education that you will never receive from a book or in a classroom.”

I loved this when I read the book.  It has stuck with me.  I wanted to share with all of you.  Here are more pics from my trip. Look for my next blog post coming later today.

Tell me what’s going on in your life.  I want to hear from you!

Amore & Baci!

Ciao,

Just Steph

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Mangiamo! (Let’s Eat!)

There are two activities that God created both necessary for human survival as well as pleasurable. Eating is one of them. You can deduce the other. Mealtime, throughout history, has been portrayed in books, poetry, music and art. Food is referenced innumerable times in Sacred Scripture, not forgetting the meal of meals, the Last Supper.

For me, every meaningful event was surrounded with fabulous delicacies. Even sad events like funerals included gathering between viewing times and ended with a large gathering at a local restaurant for the final event. This helped us through the grief, being with the people closest to us and the deceased. We even had a good laugh, telling funny memories of our loved ones.

I never thought I was an emotional eater. I didn’t eat when I was lonely, depressed, and angry, etc. It took me four years of taking care of my diet to realize I am an emotional eater. I eat to get to the happy place, my happy place. The happiest part of the day was dinner. No matter how bad things were, we sat down to dinner, talked and laughed. We could hardly wait to break bread with our cousins at the holidays.

Today, I am still trying to get to the happy place. It’s about the party, the feel good. I love feeding anyone who enjoys great food. I love everything about food, the aromas, flavors, textures, the wine, the company and the ambience. Although the experience is always enjoyable, I can never quite reach my “real” happy place. The food never quite does it. In the end, when I overdo it, I feel worse about myself for not having control. I then have to spend most of the week trying to take off the damage from the weekend.

I have to say, my travels through Italy and Sicily have been a culinary explosion and we are only 25% of the way through. I have enjoyed every morsel of every meal. My stomach kills, but I will probably not skip the next meal out of fear that I will miss something. I am scared to see how tight my clothes might be by the end of this trip, but it will be well worth it. The olive oil, cheeses, pasta are all fabulous.

Who knows; maybe I will find my happy place here in the motherland. I found my cousins in Reisi. So anything is possible. I will be posting some photos and videos of this wonderful event as well as some others. Keep reading! I will be catching up with you again soon!

Tell me what is going on in your life. I want to hear from you!

Amore & Baci (Love & Kisses)!

Ciao, Just Steph

 

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Put the Shoe on the Other Foot

Our first night in Rome, my husband and I walked about 1 1/2 hours looking for Taverna Trilussa, the restaurant for which we had reservations.  When we finally made it, I had a blister the size of a Kennedy half dollar.  For me, though, it’s fashion over comfort.  The dinner was amazing, but we took a cab back to the hotel.

The next day, as we toured the Colosseum, Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, etc., I was forced to think about my feet and my shoes.  I also thought about the life of the ancients.  What was it like for them?  It was a much simpler existence.  Walking was the primary mode of transportation.  The roads were not nicely paved, so their shoes must have been simple sandals that were flexible, unlike my stilettos from the night before.  Food was simple…all clean eating: Olives, fruit, vegetables, olive oil, simple breads, etc. They had conversations, talking in the Forum. They met their friends and relatives to tell them any news, no phones, texting or internet.

The other idea that has stuck with me in this journey is the benefits of travel.  Matthew Kelly, in his book “The Rhythm of Life,” talks about, and I am paraphrasing, how money spent on travel is money well spent.  When we journey to other countries, or even different parts of our own country, we enter into solidarity with the native people.  This in itself encourages the breakdown of racial barriers and prejudices. So in essence, when we visit another country, we put the shoe on the other foot.  We experience their lives, what it’s like for them everyday.

So put the shoe on the other foot…get out of your comfort zone.  Visit new places, meet the people and experience new cultures.  I am getting on a plane to visit my family’s homeland, Sicily.  I will keep you posted.

Tell me what’s going on with you.  I want to hear from you!

Wishing you love, balance and peace!

Amore & Baci (Love & Kisses).

Just Steph

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Who’s Sorry Now?

If you believe in a higher power, at some point you will fall short.  You will do something that offends God and has probably hurt yourself and someone you love.  So what to do?  Well this morning I landed in the eternal city.  That’s right, Rome Italy.  What better place to face my God, but the burial place of hundreds of popes and many saints, St. Peter’s Basilica.  Non-Catholics, bear with me.  Like I said, at some point you need to say sorry to God for what you have done.  I have chosen the “Mecca” for Catholics…The Vatican.  There are confessionals along the sides of St. Peter’s where you can confess your sins in any language.  I approach the English confessional and enter.  I confess my sins as bluntly as I do anything.  That’s my personality.  I know God already knows.  What’s there to hide?  I might as well let it all out.  So I did.  The priest was lovely and sweet, very caring.  I said my Act of Contrition and he offered me a prayer card with a relic of Blessed Pope John Paul II. So why did I not feel better?  Why was this not lifted from me?  I said my penance prayers.  Why do I still walk around heavy?

I believe it is because we are all cracked eggs.  We come into relationships already cracked.  When we hurt each other our cracks get larger.  We can be sorry all we want.  We can even try to make “real” amends.  But the truth is, what’s done is done.  This is why God doesn’t really need to punish us.  We suffer the consequences of our own sins.  It’s called “Free Will.”  We did it, God sadly watched and now we suffer. We suffer and the people around us suffer.

So how do we rectify this situation?  How do we rise up?  I tell you now, God has already forgiven and has moved on.  He wants you and me to move on. God has forgotten.  But we as cracked eggs have a very hard time moving on, and maybe rightfully so. The standard is to look at God, your higher power and emulate Him.  Working toward moving on, forgiving, forgiving yourself, accepting your part in the wrong-doing and trying to do better next time. 

We need to look at those mistakes, the cracks, and learn from them, embrace them and turn it around to do good for your loved ones and neighbors. No matter how you feel, know your higher power loves and forgives you.  My God loves me, can I love myself?

Keep up with me as I travel through Italy and Sicily.  I will keep you posted on what I am doing and hopefully inspire you to make positive changes in your life. Tell me what’s going on in your life.  I want to hear from you.

Wishing you love, balance and peace,

Just Steph

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