What light will be found?

better humanIt’s been a horrible three weeks for humanity starting with the Médecins Sans Frontières bombing in Kunduz, followed by the terrors unleashed in Beirut, Paris, and Baghdad. Senseless death. Lives destroyed. Borders closed. Hearts closed.

My business partner took the scope of ‘this’ and thoughtfully addressed being sensitive on social media in the face of tragedy on his weekly radio show this last week. I invite you to listen to the podcast for some very practical advice on being a better human being in our ever connected world. Starting at the 5:00 time-stamp mark and proceeding through the 20:00 mark Ken offers a list of seven to-do’s 1) pull the plug on automated posting 2) go silent 3) briefly acknowledge what has happened with compassion 4) share links to most credible relief organisations 5) gradual re-engagement 6) avoid perception of opportunism and finally 7) do not hijack a tragedy based hashtag for commercial gain.

My words will take a different focus, the same focus offered by Antoine Leiris, the same focus of four best friends from around the world whose #LoveOverFear efforts in the Montreal Metro made me weep. I sit here writing while listening to 50 of the most beautiful Adagios ever composed. I haven’t written since 7 November, a shockingly long being humantime for my fingers to be idle of creative energy. While talking heads have cast aspersions and spewed hateful rhetoric, the respect I have for all who have been lost demanded my silence. I took time to offer ‘light’ in the minute tasks of daily life. I recognize that I didn’t bleed. I still live. While my heart shatters in ever smaller pieces I am reminded:

French-boy“There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.” ~ Leonard Cohen

As is often the case, God has been used as an excuse. You know what? God isn’t on the side of evil. “God” would never have us kill in His/Her name. God is Unitarian. God is Agnostic. God doesn’t have a denomination of preference. God is neither yours exclusively, nor mine. Whatever you believe God does not condone your taking a life – any life.

I am simultaneously embarrassed and disgusted by fear-mongering politicians (I am not alone) who are systematically destroying any chance to provide child-sleeping-on-rocknormalcy for terrified children and their families who have lost everything that they know and understand – right down to the pillows under their small heads. We are segmented by artificial differences and it makes me sick.

“At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.” ~ Albert Schweitzer

Candles. Flowers. Vigils. Borders opened. Hearts flung open.

Eiffel tower“When you become comfortable with uncertainty, infinite possibilities open up in your life.” – Eckhart Tolle

Unless of course you are viewed with contempt for the simple reason that the colour of skin is less white, whose God – though the same – has a different Prophet than those making decisions. Those whose own paranoid fears incite hateful behaviours in others are the grand manipulators of our society and those suffering from mental illness are perfectly sane in contrast.

Exactly 700 years ago, England’s King John, younger brother of Richard the Lionhearted, exacted a wholesale slaughter of the citizens of his realm. (It should sound strikingly familiar against what is happening in Syria.) Innocents caught in the machinations of massive debt, madness and ineptitude, which paved the way for the occupation of England in what was nearly a second Norman Conquest. Eventually light was let into this darkness in the creation of the Magna Carta.  Why have we learned absolutely nothing from history? Or perhaps the question now is what ‘light’ will come from the daily terrors our world is experiencing now?

Nostradamus certainly prophesied the chaos we are now living 500 years ago. Every single thought, every action each of us takes us closer to either catastrophic global destruction or realignment in the light.

“When one takes action for others, one’s own suffering is transformed into the energy that can keep one moving forward; a light of hope illuminating a new tomorrow for oneself and others is kindled.” ~ Daisaku Ikeda

Under normal circumstances I would close with a suggestion that if you liked my post that you send me the value of a cup of tea via PayPal – don’t do that. If this post found resonance for you please send the cost of a cup of tea to the Malala Fund. Thank you.


Vietnam Memorial

The Photographer’s Eye

Vietnam Memorial

Found on FB, but please see Ms. Pan’s portfolio here

97 years ago yesterday the greatest armed (man-to-man) conflict the world has ever known ended by “a cessation of hostilities” (an armistice), the 11th minute of the 11th hour, on the 11th day of the 11th month, it is known as Remembrance Day. In the United States 11 November is known as Veterans Day. I was struck (as were many) yesterday by a breathtaking image of Maya Lin‘s masterpiece, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, by photographer Angela B. Pan. I have always thought of Lin’s highly polished black wall of granite (without the Congressional driven design-compromised bronze soldiers statue added) as something both pure and raw. The ‘wound in the earth’ as something powerfully symbolizing the emotions which every family feels when death finds them, the darkest grief of our hearts made physical.  Pan’s image is the near perfect (while nothing is ever truly perfect I think the evergreen wreaths disrupt the integrity of her image). The wet surface of the walkway and the wall itself making ribbons of colour from the reflection of trees, morning mists hanging low on a still green grass and a sky streaked with apricot, sepia, silvery blues and gold leading us by two point perspective to the Washington Monument. Her photographer’s eye has pulled light into the darkness, reflected it, distorted the pain found in the open graves and transformed such into something transcendent offered at the end of our (visual) journey.

MBW war

Photo: Margaret Bourke-White c. 1945, Polish concentration camp survivor weeping near charred corpse of a friend, in Leipzig, Germany

Just as Pan’s perspective draws us toward a metaphorical Nirvana bathed in luminescence, other photographers’ eyes (and their respective lens) open up the horrors which a handful of stupid people drive our collective humanity toward. In the case of photojournalists (long before they were given that moniker of respect) they trudged into the blood soaked and muddy battlefields, into prison camps and shattered villages, and onto shelled roads thick with dust and disease to send black and white images to magazines and newspapers documenting the displacement of women and children and the elderly. The innocents of shameful behaviours politically and physically caught between machines of the military (defense industry) and those that carried out their orders using them. The Library of Congress exhibition of Women Come to the toni frissellFront highlights (what remains are their press credentials and bios online) the work eight women accomplished in chronicling war. Toni Frissell who is better remembered in photographic circles for her fashion photography image at right is just one of tens of thousands of images of what is left behind.

We are in the midst of the greatest exodus of humanity since World War II, yet again it is the intellectuals, the elderly and the children fleeing the carnage. Yet again we are faced with uncomfortable truths realised by a pebble being thrown in the pond. The ripple effects unknown to those who cast the first stone but keenly felt by tens of millions around the world. Humanity all bleeding the same shade of red. The front lines are blurred with a photographer’s lens. Tim Hetherington understood that, and it cost him his life in Libya. He documented the brutality of war, the real costs of lives living an obscene version of ‘normal’, disrupted from community but for being born in the wrong place.

tim hetherington

Photo: Tim Hetherington

“Underpinning my work is a concern with human rights and analyzing political ideas, with thinking about history and politics. It’s also about witnessing, about telling stories. Photography to me is a way of exploring the world, creating narratives, and communicating with as many people as possible…”

~ Tim Hetherington, after he won the World Press Photo of the Year 2007

War and wars. We destroy and create history at once and we learn nothing from either. There are no victors. War wrecks men and women, civilians and military alike. Those who fought and died in senseless wars that go on longer than they should because of both greed and malevolence. Mustard gas in WWI, Monsanto’s Agent Orange in Vietnam (which continues to impact the health of those who were on the ground and the children of their children). Nixon was criminally insane as was Saddam Hussein, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, George W. Bush and Bashar al-Assad most certainly are, the list goes on and on.

My girlfriend Nancy said, “We build memorials and preserve battlefields.” War photographs should haunt us to guide us to not repeat the endless tragedies.  A war memorial, and the photos of it, is often the only thing beautiful to come out of a war.

If you enjoy my blog please consider ‘buying me a cup of tea’ in your currency via PayPal to and then, please do share the blog with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschiTo order my book, please click on the cover art of my book below, thank you! 



The difference (participating in) elections make


Justin Trudeau from Rideau Hall photo: CBC.CA

All over the world ordinary people like myself are applauding the less than a week old leadership offered to Canada (and the world by example) of Justin Trudeau. His quote “Because its 2015” resounding with us regardless of our gender, race, religion, ethnic heritage or where we live. His vision boldly being implemented to undo his predecessors’ nearly decade long debauching of everything that Canadians (as my childhood neighbours of less than 1 mile) hold dear about themselves and their society.

To Canada’s south, especially in the states of Ohio and Kentucky, the United States is dealing with cries of election fraud brought about by Diebold’s electronic voting machines where software vulnerability makes hacking (or coding as some believe) easy to make the results anything the ruling party might wish them to be. And sometimes it requires the court systems to make ‘basic human rights’ that our ancient (and near history) forebears took for granted in healing and for ceremony legitimate in the face of corporate interests and the narrowmindedness of a well organized minority, or the drug cartels themselves. (For the record I support the use of marijuana for medical use and spiritual exploration but am not a user myself.)

4200 miles away from Ottawa and Columbus today is Election Day in Croatia. And like so many places around the world a great deal is at stake in the form of who is chosen by us, the masses, to represent our interests. What we as individuals, in our egocentric view, tend to forget is that we are all connected by the choices made when we cast our ballots (or fail to show up at all because ofizbori2015 indifference or resignation that nothing will be changed). Election results matter a great deal in our dynamic and interdependent and connected world. We are one. We will all be impacted by the same planet security horrors – some immediate and directly facing drought and then famine, natural and man-made disasters resulting from climate change, rising sea levels, armed conflict and outright genocide resulting from greed and insecurity, and others who fear the tidal wave of ‘others’ brought to our borders by the aforementioned and much more.

In the case of every country bordering the Adriatic and all of its citizens, tourism 11-08-15 at 11.29 AMbusinesses ranging from tourism to tuna, all will be negatively impacted if the current Croatian administration (and any combination of its collation government) are reelected. Under the misguided (or personal gain?) driven mindset of the current Minister of Economy Ivan Vrdoljak and his co-conspirators in the archaic hydrocarbon industry of Eni SpA, Medoil Plc, INA Industrija Nafte d.d., Oando Inc and Vermilion Energy propose to drill for natural gas and oil in the pristine waters of the Jadrana (the Adriatic). Almost certainly with a fault line running under and through this shallow closed sea a disaster will happen, perhaps on the epic level of the Deepwater Horizon (BP Oil) spill in the very least further decimating the natural habitat for marine life and negatively impacting the thriving tourism sector of the Croatian (and other Adriatic countries) economy.


Personal photo of the northern Adriatic taken 10 September 2015

A year ago when I first came to Croatia I was struck by the absolute beauty of the country and especially of the Adriatic. I recognise that the floundering economy needs help but drilling for oil in this water is lunacy and wholly unnecessary when robust clean technologies based in renewables are widely available to channel Croatia’s abundant sun, wind, wave and harness biomass. Further, my business partner in Commarglo and I have a plan ready to deploy that could raise tourism in Croatia by the same 800% which he realised as a grad student for the country of Aruba. On behalf of a cross section of concerned citizens from around the world and within Croatia’s borders we implored of His Holiness Pope Francis to intervene, which sadly has not yet happened.

And so I bring you dear reader to a choice. For Croatians to get the polls today, to cast your votes first for Zivi Zid (their platform does not sanction drilling on land or in the sea) and then ORaH (which supports limited drilling for natural gas – which I personally hope they will change their position on). For the rest of us, in advance of COP21 to tweet #EarthToParis consistently and loudly to make the representatives of 190 countries attending on all of our behalf to actually cease the border bickering and ‘you go first’ arguments and rationally, methodically and immediately develop a tactical plan for implementing against the red alert level of warning we are living in related to climate change. For those that suggest it will cost too much – really? look at what climate change is already costing humanity for our negligence.

If you enjoy my blog please consider ‘buying me a cup of tea’ in your currency via PayPal to and then, do share it with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschiTo order my book, please click on the cover art of my book below, thank you! 


Of olives, history and friendships that make us family.

Dining in Tuscany Tablescape

From Under The Tuscan Sun

There is a scene in Under The Tuscan Sun when the characters are bringing in the olive harvest, it is a joyous calliope of work, laughter, friendships and (bound by blood and circumstances) family which is followed by a groaning table, wine and conversation. The truth is I never expected to be in my own version of this favourite movie of mine. As with Frances saying “well, um, I can’t go back to San Francisco” I have uttered similar words this week about the United States.

I met Nicoletta late in July, when her olive fruits were young. I have been invited back to Fažana to experience the harvest and the milling of her 20151004_093124olives. I am humbled to witness the end of the season, the continuation of 3000 years of cultivation here in Istria. Istra, how those living here refer to it, and the Lombardy region of Italy are the two most northerly locations able to support olive trees and yet cycles of weather have periodically threatened and destroyed this connection to human history (most recently in the 1960s).  The oldest olive tree in Istra is on Brijuni, a remnant of a Roman settlement and it is 1700 years old. In contrast Nicoletta’s trees are young, but she knows precisely how old each is, their temperament, their yields.

By education and trade Nicoletta is a truly talented linguist. At the age of 25 her beloved father died suddenly; amongst his legacy to her was this grove. Now 500 trees. Three varieties of olives. She doing what has traditionally been a man’s work. This woman with the same minerals of Istra’s red 20151009_130235earth coursing through her veins that nourishes her olive trees honouring the history of Istra and her father. Nicoletta and her olives. Her keen intellect taking what has always been done here and doing something much more.

I wander through the grove. Taking pictures of the olives, of the trees, of the men and women gathered here who comb the ripe fruit with their fingers unto the soft mesh nets below. It is timeless. Rhythms of life. The nets will be gathered (also by hand) as fishermen would to fill green and red crates.  The crates are loaded into Nicoletta’s mom’s chartreuse green Mercedes minivan, the colour 20151005_195050of some of the olives are in sunlight. The stainless containers for the oil follow the olives, then us. The Balija olives, some of which still hung heavy on spindly branches less than fifteen minutes ago, will be pressed within the hour. I will taste this green gold fresh from their trees a half an hour later. I will weep. I will weep for the connection to history, to the land that Romans made their summer residence, for the blessing of this experience. I weep to know precisely where this olive oil came from, to see it pressed, to feel its silkiness coat my teeth and tongue and fill my mouth with Istrian sunlight. I weep to stand in the Grubić family mill in Bale amidst ancient stone wheels and a museum of rescued relics of the past which make up half of the facility and the modern cold-pressed technology that carries Nicoletta’s legacy to become assigned status Product of Designated Origin, PDO, Istrian olive oil.

So many of our larders are full of seemingly precious (by its price point) EVO and small batch Balsamic vinegars, beautiful cookware and expensive knives. None of you reading this have ever been so intimate with what comes 20151005_201246from the earth as I have been these last months, in this moment standing in the night air dense with the scents of lavender and the crush of ripe olives or tomorrow when Nicoletta will pour this bright grass green liquid gold over tomatoes fresh from the vine for our lunch.

At the end of Under the Tuscan Sun there is a line spoken by ‘Frances’ that all her wishes came true, the wedding and the family in the too big house that so often threatened to swamp her with despair. We create the life we wish, sometimes without even realising that we are doing so in the process. It’s said if you sit at someone’s table and eat with them they give you their heart. Nicoletta was emotionally and physically present at a moment of incredible sadness, stress and overwhelming aloneness for me. She has shared extraordinary cuisine with me, and she and her mom have both invited me to dine at their tables. In my heart that makes Nicoletta the truest kind of family, the one we choose and that chooses us.

If you enjoy my blog please consider ‘buying me a cup of tea’ in your currency via PayPal to and then, please do share the blog with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschiTo order my book, please click on the cover art of my book below, thank you! 



Telling stories, witnessing history.


Un-retouched fresco from St. Anton

From the beginning of human history we have told stories with pictures. Our oral history made physical to share with more people, and future generations. With clays, charcoal, plant extracts on cave walls, on animal skins, on wood, and fiber woven from all manner of plants our stories vibrant in their youth and then fading with time, or in some instances covered with the works of later generations as newer stories take on greater importance in their telling. Do we even consider the overwriting of our collective stories?  I have been in the “smallest town in the world” of Hum and its slightly larger neighbor Roč in Istra, Croatia the last couple of days and nowhere have our stories and history collided so immediately before my eyes as here.

Before general populations possessed literacy the Church (i.e. the Roman Catholic Church) hired talented artists to adorn the walls of their Romanesque (and earlier) houses of God with the most 20150825_111821important lessons a particular bishopric wish to convey to its flock. Ascension. Damnation. The merits of living a pious life. Bearing witness to the horrific deaths of its martyrs. The lives of Saints. With this key (and others just like it) Jelena of the Roč Tourist Board (if so motivated to visit go through Mila in the Buzet TB to arrange) opened up its churches for me.


Un-retouched image from Saint Roč


Prepared in Roč, Glagoljica script was used for the Missal printed in 1483.

I am not a art historian. I am not a devout Catholic. What I am is curious and passionate about our collective cultural heritage and its preservation. In particular as we watch ISIS destroy the heritage of the cradle of civilisation it seems a race against time for us to stand physically before our cultural lineage. So sharing something so incredibly special is an honour for me and in sharing it I hope you do visit Istra, Croatia and experience the stunning beauty of these 800 year old frescoes in person. Three layers of frescoes (until recently it was thought there were only two – surprise!) adorn the nave of the Saint Roch nothing prepares you for the door of it to be opened, and literally step back to 13th century. Also requiring a keyholder in Roč is the Church of Saint Anton, and main church (for services) is the massive Saint Bartholomew (Crkva svetog Bartula).  For me, it would have been enough to come to Roč to see these but a trip to Hum is well worth staying two nights in the area to explore both towns. Why? Concurrent with the development of these beautiful frescoes was the formal creation of the Glagolitic script (not an alphabet, but an azbuka – the names of the first two letters of the script ) commonly referred to as ‘Old Church Slavonic’ which is the oldest of any Slavic script used for the translation of the Bible and Roč became the centre of this effort. To understand more of the origins of Glagolitic script, and the original practices of faith of what is now Croatia please take time to read this marvelous blog post by Gordana Kokić.

Each year at the end of June 60 exceptional 6th grade Croatian students are brought to Roč to study Glagolitic in a course called “The Small Glagolitic Academy”. My heart soared to learn that something well over 1000 years old is being honoured and still being taught.

On the main road between Roč and Hum is “Glagolitic Alley”. Eleven different sculptures (ten of stone, one of copper) are set into the midst of the Istrian landscape. Reverence for 20150825_115958Istra’s cultural heritage that inspires those of us drawn here to Terra Magica for reasons we can’t fully comprehend.


Made in Croatia, characters of the Glagoljica script in Hum.

Our stories start with something we experience, something common or extraordinary that we feel compelled to capture by putting a single letter onto a blank page. Humankind hasn’t changed so very much since using charcoal on a cave wall. Our letters, one at a time form the basis of painting the picture of our experiences with words.

If you enjoy my blog please consider ‘buying me a cup of tea’ in your currency via PayPal to and then, please do share the blog with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschiTo order my book, please click on the cover art of my book below, thank you! 



A place in the clouds. Motovun.

a place in the clouds

View from the terrace of Villa Borgo, Motovun

A place in the clouds.

There is a lovely movie that I thought of when I wrote a tweet about the powerful emotions which Motovun has unleashed in me this week.

Where do I begin? The logistics that can be easily found anywhere? Images from the Internet? No matter what you expect by viewing thousands of these, none will do it justice. Until you see it, and more specifically experience Motovun, you will never “understand” and maybe some of you never will, and that is perfectly okay. I live without expectations, thus I am rarely disappointed. That expressed I am highly receptive to energies (both positive and negative) and from a purely 20150820_115622physical perspective ‘there is something VERY special here’. Something that has me vibrating at a higher frequency than perhaps I have ever felt anywhere before setting foot here six days ago. I can’t tell you what it is. Yet. But today, on the month anniversary of leaving the United States to participate in the Istrian Tourist Board’s #ShareIstria campaign with my business partner Ken Herron, I can tell you that the ache of leaving tomorrow morning for Buzet (a mere 22 kilometers away) might break my heart.

I am sitting here listening to Gibonni on YouTube as I type (what else could I be expected to be listening to?). A lovely breeze off the Adriatic an hour away to the west wafts through the open window of Villa Borgo kissing my skin. I have been working on this blog post mentally all week, and most of the day I have been ‘trying’ to capture what I have experienced here. It’s nearly impossible. When I set out two years ago on the path of discovery to find a REAL place to call home – not merely a place in which to accept mail and to reside – I thought it would be in Croatia someplace near the Adriatic, likely in Dalmatia. As much as I have swooned under the soaring heights of Scotland’s Munros and having skied on a great many hills across the United States and Canada I never imagined wanting to make my final permanent home at an elevation of more than 100 feet above sea level, least of all an hour away from falling from my bed to swim at dawn in salt water, but here I am.

20150818_145416-2Here in Motovun. Ancient stone streets. 441 metres of citadel walls and arches and its-never-been-conquered-by-an-invading-army-at-any-time-in-history. Five churches. Motovun perched above the Mirna River valley with its rich agricultural economy that produces 70% of all of the fresh produce in Istria surely is blessed by the heavens, here I fell into the rhythm of the place with the greatest of ease of any place, anywhere, I have ever visited or lived.

Of course gastronomes come for the truffles and the exquisitely prepared regional cuisine made of the freshest organic and slow food standards heartassociated with agroturizim here in Istria. I don’t think you can have a bad meal in Istria – anywhere. Though some meals which I have enjoyed both as part of the ShareIstria campaign and in the following three weeks have been beyond exquisite. Let it be understood that Istrian hospitality, while capable of offering tasting menus of perfectly prepared gourmet experiences you will still be stuffed at the end of any meal as though you were at your grandmother’s table and she thinks you look thin and pale. ;) It’s said in Istria if you can still say the words “Ne mogu više “I can’t eat another bite” you still have room to eat more and another helping will be put on your plate. May I suggest you go to my Twitter account and search for #ShareIstria and #Motovun for a sampling of pictures of #foodporn which will surely prompt you to book a flight tomorrow.

I had a chance idea to (quite literally force) the inclusion of Klapa Motovun (they are new to Twitter please give them some love!) onto the ShareIstria campaign, I had no idea doing such would lead to my being Motovun’s guest for seven nights and foster a passionate desire to 20150820_211144~2become a Motovun citizen. The guys (of Klapa Motovun) having previously sung (at my request) Gibonni’s Lipa Moja in Vdonjan invited me to their rehearsal in Motovun’s iconic St. Stephan’s church, and surprised me in singing it again. This was basically a private concert in a sanctuary so perfect acoustically that the angels painted in frescoes on the soaring ceiling above surely were made real flesh and blood for four minutes. Such experiences cannot be purchased for any amount of money. These gifts alter the most essential aspect of who we are because they are given freely and from the heart; I have never felt so rich.

Yesterday I made the mayor of Motovun’s mother and sister both cry as I explained how I felt about their town. After speaking to Goran over a glass of his freshly squeezed grapefruit/orange/lemon 20150822_170717juice I followed a very elderly white haired lady as she methodically picked her way up the cobble-stoned hill that TripAdvisor reviewers have complained about doing – evidently she does this every day in her dress and cardigan and flat soled slippers. I found the most beautiful sewer grate on the planet, carved of stone, set into cobbles as I walked. Houses inhabited for four hundred (or more) years where nothing has really changed an ancient stone (or gorgeous antique metal) bench by the door can be found for ‘mental health purposes’. Despite the frenzy of activity and industry there’s 20150822_165006always enough time to talk, to be kind, to be a community of neighbours thoroughly welcoming of the astonishing scope of people from all over the world. All drawn inexplicably to this tiny town atop a 277 metre hill with the longest staircase in Istria – 1052 steps – which looks much as it did in the 12th and 13th centuries.

I finally, 10 hours after starting the writing of this blog post, did a search for “energy + Motovun” which got me this reference to something called “Dragon’s Furrows” and from there, suddenly, I had clarity about the sensation of feeling swamped with the energy of Motovun.

“an interesting study about “dragon’s furrows” in Istria. It’s about the directions of energy meridians and their converging points which are the sources of positive Earth energy. Energetic relations to the landscape, as Pogacnik stated, were known by the oldest civilizations, and their life, as well as buildings were organized due to the “dragon’s furrows” and their converging points. In this “Pogacnik system”, Motovun was the most powerful source of positive energy in Istria where three “dragon’s furrows” converge.”

The ‘how’ remains to be revealed but I believe I have come home to the place my soul has been seeking to return to my whole life (or lives).

If you enjoy my blog please consider ‘buying me a cup of tea’ in your currency via PayPal to and then, please do share the blog with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschiTo order my book, please click on the cover art of my book below, thank you! 



Poignant reminders

Very often we land in exactly the place we are supposed to be.

20150817_213736Sometimes my life experience seems a bit too extreme, even for me, but without this extraordinary dichotomy I wouldn’t be one tenth of the person I am; at an exponential level I was reminded of this earlier this week.

I had traveled by bus from Dalmatia back to Istra. Dalmatia will always be my Croatian equivalent of Heidelberg (my first German city). Dalmatia is stunningly beautiful but just not as green as someone from the Great Lakes region of New York state requires to be ‘whole’, whereas Istra is VERY green. Istra just so happens to also have a vibrant agroturizum sector so necessary to my soul. And perhaps because Istra has been at crossroads of more historic trade its populations are a bit more cosmopolitan in their collective mindset (I met a man on Hvar from Zagreb who told me he had lived there and worked there for 10 years and was still considered an outsider, can’t even imagine what Dalmatians would make of “me” on a permanent basis) so truly welcomed is what I feel here.


My Pula rescue committee! Hvala draga.

I was motion sick en route. I arrived in Pula only to find that my AirBnB host had over booked leaving me stranded on a dead-end street with a small mountain of luggage. Discovered by one of the neighbours, she in turn was joined by three other women all of whom were completely distraught that I was both physically ill, in their city without accommodations and took on anger toward the AirBnB host (for many infractions against the neighbourhood and humanity in general it seems) and they set upon a path to make this as right as they possibly could. I found my luggage and my person stuffed into a small blue car and transported to Pula’s waterfront and a hostel. And, in truth, arriving at the hostel my heart felt like a cold hard stone. I had leapt into the void without a plan and the reasonably soft landing anticipated had failed to materialize. Materialize being the critical word. What actually do we ‘need’? The hostel was to be my reminder.


From left to right, back row: Mia, Marianka, Alina and front row: Katharina, Alison and Beatrice (Bea)

It was critically important for me to recognise in that moment that I had chosen to strip away everything known to me and to make a pilgrimage of reinvention, to give up ‘things’ just like these young people who stay in hostels, they travel with all their possessions in a backpack across Europe eating pasta day after day, seeing and experiencing different cultures and are truly happy. Equally important was the concept of ‘in the moment’. Stripping away any expectations and simply resting (to the extent possible sleeping in a dormitory with eight bunks – let alone a co-ed one – for the very first time EVER IN MY LIFE). I was safe, had a hot shower, Wi-Fi and a soft (enough) bed. The next day I was moved to another room and found myself easily fall into friendships 20150817_221646with a group of twenty-something young women – Marianka, Alison, Alina and Katharina – I invited them to make a community dinner, they contributed and I made tortellini Alfredo. There was laughter. There were tears. Stories of broken hearts and Twin Flames. They reminded me of all that lay before them, in fact before all of us, and if not chronologically then at least in spirit I am twenty-something once again because they have invited me to be such. The next night three of us wandered Pula’s streets, had gelato, Alison had a massage near the Golden Arch, and I had the pleasure of introducing Marianka and Alison to Pula native son Stjepan Hauser of 2Cellos (who had not a clue in the universe who he was, making this truly a “normal” experience for him).



But sitting at two separate small tables in the Riva Hostel of Pula, first with Carmela, a young woman from the perfect small, medieval Istrian town of Svetvincenat (population 200 or so), and then a bit later with Hayley and Josh, a young couple from Vancouver, British Columbia the resonance of my life’s journey smacked me right upside my head. The content of our conversations couldn’t have be more different but for one thing – all three of these young people (as much as Katharina and Marianka had also conveyed) felt that my presence there had been orchestrated to pass kernels of wisdom from my life (twice as long as each of 20150818_090134theirs), 20150818_090204to “give more than you take” from our planet and all that you encounter, and finally to experience life in possibilities and not dwell in the negative.  It is hard not to be humbled in recognising that while I might not have consciously chosen to sleep in a hostel that my presence was demanded there.  When I left on Monday morning for Motovun I was different. As they stood in the windows of an Austro-Hungarian Empire building and blew kisses and waved goodbye I was a better version of myself because of each of these young people had embraced me physically, emotionally, spiritually and intellectually. Life lessons, and the poignant reminders we need, are always waiting for us in unexpected places, in the very moments we ‘think’ we should be some other place.

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