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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 livelikeadog@gmail.com 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! 

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Dearly Beloved We Are Gathered Here Today – a love letter to Boston

mateDearly Beloved,

The vows we make to love, honour and cherish are often thought of as the point of commitment following a courtship, sometimes – without realizing how or why – we make a commitment long before we even meet the love of our life.  This love embraces us, carries our burdens when we are weak, makes us stronger, gives and receives, become intrinsic to our psyche, this love becomes ‘home’ in every sense.

Me, age 17, September 1978, senior year picture

Me, age 17, September 1978, senior year picture

At the beginning of our senior years in high school (at least in the United States) we are asked to not only synopsize four years (including a school year not yet ‘lived’) but also to frame our dreams and life goals and it’s not lost on me that my personal summary read:

DSCN9825

First, please note, I had never traveled to Boston as a child, I didn’t have relatives that lived there, no personal reference point to have expressed this life goal. In fact my first sighting of the Boston skyline was via the Mass Pike as a 23 year-old newlywed bride when we stayed with a friend in Newton en route to Portsmouth, New Hampshire where my husband had a job interview. In 1998, divorced with my former husband’s words echoing in my ears “I am keeping you from being everything you are capable of becoming”, my new tech employer gave me the option of working out of the headquarters at 55 Broad Street in New York City or the ‘geek center’ off of Alewife Brook Parkway in Cambridge; the location was a no brainer as I actually loathe how NYC drains me energetically, and because I have long been a proud member of Red Sox Nation – this was my rebellion against my hockey-loving father who “would rather watch paint dry” than baseball – I was Boston bound!

Map copyright and more info at: www.emeraldnecklace.org

Map copyright and more info at: http://www.emeraldnecklace.org

Boston. And surrounds. Separate but entwined, each better because of the unique characteristics of the other, a rich tapestry, a complex piece of music, a gorgeous piece of art, red brick and puddingstone, slate sidewalks and iron fences, arcing spans to walk across in the ‘Emerald Necklace’ or on “The” Charles – oh, my ‘self’ and my love. charles

For a decade I lived with you, was defined, made whole and existed as the best person I have ever been intellectually.  I (inadvertently) found sanctuary in Emmanuel Episcopal with its exquisite music and thoughtful, inclusive and very progressive community, every week you offered up lectures about things I didn’t know I needed to know at the Boston Public Library, Harvard, MIT, the Theosophical Society and Swedenborg Chapel and chamber concerts with BEMF and Boston Philharmonic, at Sanders Theatre, Jordan Hall, and the acoustically perfect Medieval courtyard of the Fogg.  I was left breathless and renewed swimming in Cape Ann’s icy coastal waters as well as inspired by the collections at the MFA, Peabody Essex, the Sackler, Fogg (which with the Busch-Reisinger will reopen this fall as one museum as designed by Renzo Piano) and the Isabella Stewart Gardner  Boston, my beloved, you gave me life as if I had crossed the driest desert to find an palm oasis with a single cup hanging from an ancient hand-wrought chain affixed to a stone surround protecting an artesian spring of pure water from which to drink without abatement. Sustenance. Oh Boston, thank you.

Photo by Raymond Britt

Photo by Raymond Britt

I have been back and forth since 2002 when life forced me away from you and all you give. And when, last year this time, two young men who you also embraced betrayed you and then set out to destroy all of your beauty and turn you and your surrounds into a war zone my heart twisted in wretched agony and I cried copious and unrelenting tears. Oh, my love, oh, my dear Boston.

A serendipitous gift brought me back to you this weekend, and what I carried now as part of my being was renewed in your energy in places as familiar to me as the shape of my own lips which I used to metaphorically kiss you with tender spoken memories created together and to express endearments held tightly in my heart but always shed in tears of gratitude to be back with you if only fleetingly.

cherry

Boston Public Garden

As I walked with my best girlfriend (whose wanderlust made this re-connection possible) through my former ‘front yard’ of Boston Public Gardens (explaining what she was seeing and my history laid against the backdrop) the memories of a decade of pink confetti falling from your 100 plus year old cherry trees fell through my mind as if I were inside a snow globe, in this moment of transcendence the scar tissue ruptured.  Not a helicopter heading for Mass General but most clearly a surveillance one broke the rapture, and then another helicopter two minutes later – I was undone.  Our hearts are resilient, our psyche’s mend, but still scar tissue reminds us that to love sometimes means that we will also be hurt, and that when our beloved is hurt it scars us as well.

I came home to you dear Boston for the purpose of sharing you with someone who needs your love as I once did and in incremental steps from Brookline to the Back Bay, to Longwood and the Fenway to Cape Ann and back to Cambridge to Beacon Hill – you did exactly what I hoped you would, you embraced, and nurtured and sustained with the deep refreshment of your very existence. Thank you my beloved, but you had one more gift – for me, thank you. You reminded me that home is not where you live, or where you were born, it’s not the objects which surround you no, truly, ‘home’ is where the heart is.  We carry ‘home’ around with us and breathe it in like an asana and Boston you have been my home longer than you know.  On this trip, at every intersection of my old life with my current one, you seemed to anoint me with blessings. Against your refined beauty you also brought me (utterly incongruent) Croatian messages, making it clear that my new lover whose spine curves along the Adriatic languidly awaits, ready to embrace me.

I will always love you, my darling Boston, I will miss you but you will always be my hearts’ home.

If you enjoy my blog please consider ‘buying me a cup of tea’ in your currency via livelikeadog@gmail.com through PayPal, and 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! 

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Reinvention

Today I applied for roles in two Scandinavian countries, one as a consultant for an IT deployment and the other handling corporate communications for a firm in the global textiles industry. Both, as I see it, are opportunities to leverage my communications skills within spaces where I have considerable work experience but to do it outside of my comfort uprootzone.  Each company has been in business at least 165 years; which got me to thinking about reinvention and staying relevant. The ‘synergy’ of my desire to uproot, disrupt and cull the best of my first 52 years and move to a foreign country where I know absolutely no-one and I don’t speak the language and the most certain cycles of reinvention of these two companies have embraced to stay vital seems worth exploring on a more macro basis.  Disruption and migration is as old as mankind – a chief example being our history of being hunter gatherers for millions of years to ‘suddenly’ turning to settlements and agriculture about 12,000 years ago.  Setting down ‘roots’ as it were, someplace that we ‘make’ home versus wandering.

Anyone that reads this blog, or personally knows me, has already come to understand that I am a ferocious gardener.  In making something grow we nourish our souls, our bodies and (if done with reverence) also the Earth.  As ‘we’ (an ever larger segment of thinking society) school gardenFINALLY GET that our kids should know where food comes from and should be able to pronounce everything in it, that they can create beauty at the same time as they become stewards of the planet by digging in the dirt with their own hands, that an earthworm is a critical part of the ecosystem and should be regarded with a kind of spiritual partnering toward human-kinds’ very existence, that there is an opportunity to reclaim blight and turn it toward sustainable urban farming.

World Food Programme cites 870 million people in the world do not have enough to eat. No one should be hungry – ever – not when the richest 10 percent of adults in the world own 85 hungerpercent of global household wealth and 2% of the world’s population ‘use’ more than 50% of our collectively available resources.  In an attempt to provide foodstuffs and reclaim urban areas suddenly there are plenty of people very excited about vertical gardening.  The MacArthur Foundation, in its Fellow Program (aka Genius Awards) back in 2008 included Will Allen for his Growing Power efforts.  Stephen Ritz received a standing ovation at the 2013 Social Innovation Summit at the United Nations for his efforts with Green Bronx Machine.

ImageBut any little girl over the age of 9 or 10 who has read Frances Hodgson Burnett’s wonderful The Secret Garden understands that walls planted with espaliered trees thrive in the longer ‘season’ offered by the sun warming the brick or stone walls.

Espaliering is an ancient horticulture practice dating back to the Romans but brought to artistic merit by the Europeans during the 17th century.  ImageEspalier is French, but originates from the Italian spalliera, which means “something to rest the shoulder (spalla) against,” is the process of controlling plant growth in a flat plane, usually against a wall or fence, sometimes formed into a hedge by training the trees against a free-standing trellis or fence that eventually becomes redundant.

So, the idea that vertical gardening should be tied to left wing liberals, the über-intelligent and hippie dropouts is utterly ridiculous – for goodness sake it doesn’t take a genius to recognise that our planet is only so big, with finite and diminishing resources, GMO being thrust upon a hungry planet and a population desperate to survive.  To stretch our capacity to grow foodstuffs by espalier or vertical gardening is common sense thousands of years old. And so with companies like Green Living Technologies and folks like Will Allen and Stephen Ritz filling a void our stomachs and consciousness. I am reminded – Everything old is new again     

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Infinite Gifts

My dearest girlfriend (ever) Jennifer Imageturned 44.  As any thinking, right or left brain, person will recognise 4+4 = 8, or turned sideways, the eight becomes the symbol for infinity (created by John Wallis in 1655 the symbol refers to things without any limit, which Jennifer attempts to condition corporate clients toward).

Image

I don’t have the market cornered on being an ‘old soul’ but through my filter I subscribe that we forget too much of what is meaningful by over-thinking and in the process we experience a loss to natural elegance, the gifts perpetually and abundantly present (into infinity) throughout the living of our lives which are often free for embracing.

By 44 we will have pondered the meaning of life, our connection to the universe, what gifts we purposehave been blessed with genetically, what we have managed in cultivating our brains, polished our skills, and (hopefully) go about leaving the world a better place as a result of our embracing those gifts.

In truth it is the gift of our innocence and humility that creates more dramatic resonance than we can imagine – if we could just maintain that level of status quo whilst the rest of us ‘develops’.  A child of six will pluck handfuls of dandelions with only the desire to ‘surprise and delight’ someone s/he loves. These are always presented (if you pay attention) with ‘hope’ which can be read in their body language, of hiding the ‘bouquet’ behind their back, the usual accompanying language of “I have a surprise for you” and a sweet expression mixed with anxiety (a desire to be worthy in the eyes of the recipient).  The appropriate response should ALWAYS be – “OH, darling! I love it!” But as we grow older, more cynical, more juiced up on our importance (always, I think, riddled with insecurities) and our role in the universe it’s so very easy to misplace the magic of tenderness, the beauty of humility (the thought or thinking behind the gift) with the bravado of bigger, faster, more expensive, flashier attempts of using our purchasing power for the purpose of validation and HEY! LOOK AT ME!

I am a ferocious gardener, but without a mindfulness of which each requires to live not a single plant will thrive – and even with that knowledge I still sometimes fail.  Yet I never tire of trying to robininstill this lifelong passion of being Mother Nature’s vehicle on Earth, for being a steward of the planet we inhabit to the next generation.  Gardening is an art infused with science, it is beauty cultivated or left to ‘run with scissors’ over  landscapes, it is a 16th century Persian miniature painting accompanied by Rumi’s words, the scent of a ruffled lily, a tiny flower head of lavender on carpet of emerald green Irish moss.  The ‘quietude’ which finds its center in both a garden and the gardener is without question Divine. But the garden itself is a temple, a gymnasium (extreme fitness devotees would likely wilt after hauling compost for an hour) and an ashram. Only in existing within this quietude can we observe a bird pause to splash with wild abandon (and clearly gratitude) in a freshly filled bird-bath.  My greatest joy can be found in the reverence one of my ‘disciples’ has for protecting the life of a worm, delighting in the butterfly alighting a blossom or when they remember the name of a plant (taken out of the context of the garden where they had their first encounter) or asking if they can water the plants. Each of these is both ‘cause and effect’, the ‘pebble-in-the-pond’, a rich kinesis of our larger world, and a harmony we are charged with striving ever toward – whichever of our innate gifts are most useful to deploy to disrupt unfathomable conditions of ugliness, pain and suffering.

Whether a vacant urban lot or our soul, these canvases are gardens simply waiting to be reclaimed and nurtured, a gift of self that encourages others to connect and manifest a ‘greater good’ and so it shall (hopefully) be for infinity.

If you enjoy my blog please 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! 

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