Do what you love and the healing will follow. How many times will I say that in life and in my writing? A million won’t be enough, I can guarantee it. I heard those wise words so many times growing up, but for some reason they didn’t stick (or at least not for very long). Most of us seem to have this almost inherent need to be “responsible” and take the safer route. Agreed, it’s important, but who says that doing what you love isn’t just as smart and good for you?
Case in point, I finally decided to go to Italy. My body was still pretty stiff, achy and heavy from all the treatments, but it had been over six months since my last treatment and I was beginning to ask myself how much longer should I wait and possibly miss out because I either get too busy, too poor or god forbid they find a reason to do more chemo and it puts me out of commission for yet another year or so.
No, I can’t go around telling everyone to do what they love and the healing will follow if I’m still sitting here spinning my wheels (which I don’t really love to do at all) much longer, so off I went to Italy. The route went like this: Naples → Sorrento → Isle of Capri → Amalfi → Positano → Naples. I hopped on a bus outside Naples airport upon arrival and stayed at a (surprisingly reasonable) spa hotel in Sorrento for the first couple days to rest up and recoup from the pains of travel and then met up with one of my good friends on the Isle of Capri. Glad I rested because the rest of the trip pretty much involved walking up steep hills to our gorgeous hotels, then up several flights of stairs (in our elevator-less hotels) to our gorgeous rooms with stunning views of the sea and the town below, far below, then long walks up and down steeps roads and stone cut staircases to get to town/dinner/shopping and with my feet still too swollen for shoes, I hoofed ’em all in flip flops. Yup.
Ok, so my feet wouldn’t be healing on this trip, that was a given. In fact feet, especially my heels and ankles were extremely swollen and bruised by the time I got back to the states. On the subject of losing any of the “chemo weight”? Given the amount of indulging in pasta and bread soaked in olive oil and balsamic nearly every night, followed by the restauranteurs instance we try their lemon-cello (a very popular lemon liqueur served as an after dinner digestive) which always led to another as a form of compliment saying “ah, yes, we agree, yours is by far the best we’ve ever had”, I’m to have to go with no, but none gained either thanks to the marathons.
So, where’s the healing? I think it’s something that followed me home “from” Italy. I didn’t realize it while I was there, but it was pointed later that I was without thinking, donning less and less of the comfy sweat shorts and tees and more and more of the rather classic, feminine dresses I’d packed on the off chance. The kind of attention I received from the men of Italy was that of sheer and utter delight and appreciation for the curves I had, the brightness in my eyes and the joy at the sight of each course that was placed in front of me. I was bantering with the best of ’em and my hips were swaying just a bit as I meandered down those hills. I flirted like a flower that was approaching it’s brightest stage and I got as much as I gave and then some. I was reminded…oh that’s right…I’m not a chemically saturated blob. I am a woman~
I think the Italians are far more sensual by nature and by sensual I mean that they make full use of their senses. Just the way that they dine is pure proof of it. Like when the manager of Stella Maris in Amalfi ran up to my table as I was about to squeeze lemon onto my fish and urged me to wait and taste the fish first. I didn’t understand at first, but I followed along and took a bite. They had taken such great care in preparing it, that the lemon wasn’t necessary. A lifelong habit nearly prevented me from experiencing that moment. They have mastered the art of savoring and I was determined to experience that “savoring” thing that I have a tendency to rush past. I remember a savvy friend of mine saying that to me years ago “You don’t savor. You need to learn to savor.” and he was right.
It wasn’t just in the food. Water has always been a strong healing force to me. That’s a big part of why I moved up to the little cottage by the sea when I started chemo. I grew up near the sea. I know just how good that salt sea air is for the lungs and the spirit. Being in the water too. This I hardly do here in southern California because I have an inane fear of sharks. I don’t remember which brother took me to see Jaws at such a young and impressionable age, but when I do…
So another big reason for the Amalfi coast was because I knew that I could swim in their shark free sea without stress. I did get a little scared, but I swam my way through it with our old pal Dori’s voice in my head “just keep swimming, just keep swimming”. That, and the water is really buoyant so I felt light as a feather and could float and swim around for hours without getting tired. It was an amazing experience~ Just look at how clear and blue-green that water is. Would I go back? Yes, I hope to no doubt (and with better videographer skills), but there are still other things to check off that list…
What’s on your list of things to look forward to?
While you’re thinking on that, here’s a little video clip from the Green Grotto. Fair warning, turn your volume down a bit as it gets pretty loud when the camera and I go underwater…