Pen and Moon

from the writing nook of Theresa Jarosz Alberti

Tag: Iceland

Oh, What a Year!

So, that was a year. Quite a year, indeed.

 

I’m sitting here in the waning hours of 2015, looking back at a most momentous year of change, upheaval, growth, pain, joy, discovery and transformation. Even though I lived through it, I can hardly believe all that happened. The year opened rather darkly, with Bob moving out into an apartment on an Awful-Awful day in the continuing saga of the divorce he’d asked me for.

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Travel Lessons

 

It’s hard to believe we’ve been back from our Miracle Do-Over Trip to Iceland and England for several weeks already. Some of you may have followed my trip-blogging on Facebook–writing about it helps me remember details and process my experience.  It was a fabulous trip for me in so many ways. I feel lucky to have had this unique opportunity to revisit the same places we’d just been a year before. Also, there was a real  Before and After element to this trip, since in between, I’d had such a major, transformative period in my life.

 

Before:  305 lbs, lots of pain, difficulty walking, had to sit out on hiking, relationship difficulties

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Bob, Theresa, Gio in 2014– Before

After:  240 lbs, much less pain, able to walk and keep up, no seat belt extenders on the plane (!), able to hike and climb, wonderful relationship transformation

 

These Before and Afters were great, and added to that were the many lessons I learned that have really helped me in my personal growth.  I’d like to share a few of them with you.

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Life Lessons: Saying Yes to the Positive, and a Big Do-Over

Life is handing me a bit of magic lately. In two weeks, Bob and I will be traveling off to England and Iceland again. Yes, for those of you who’ve followed along, we DID just go to both places last May to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. It’s really almost miraculous that through some really good fortune, we are getting to go again. I’m thrilled and touched at this opportunity.

 

Some of you read along as we blogged, posted and photographed our way through England and Iceland last year. It was a great trip and we had a good time, but there were some flies in the ointment. I weighed over 300 lbs and was in a lot of pain every day, my knees, feet and legs so tight and sore that I couldn’t walk very fast. I limped, and we needed to make frequent stops so I could rest. It was very frustrating. And while Bob and I were getting along, it wasn’t any kind of a second honeymoon trip for us. We had our issues that had piled up on us. And while neither of us knew it at the time, we were headed toward September when Bob would request a divorce, followed by many excruciatingly grief-filled months. It’s been a tumultuous, painful, rewarding and transforming time, so this magical trip is very welcome. And I’ve learned a big lesson, too, just by how it came about.

 

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May 2014 London

 

 

About a month ago, Bob was supposed to have a week of training to earn some certification here in Minneapolis. The day the training was supposed to start, he found out that it had been cancelled, since he’d been the only one to sign up. He called the training company, based in London, to find out where else he could get the training. There were some places in the US he could take it, but it was also offered in London. Well, why not try? The training company said he could take it there, and then Bob went on to ask if they had any apartments they could put him up in. The company said yes, and they agreed to let him stay for free since they’d had to cancel the Minneapolis training. Hmmm… now he had training and a place to stay in London. He only had to convince his workplace to fly him out there. He asked, explaining that they wouldn’t have to pay for his lodging since he already had that covered… and they said yes, throwing in a per diem for food for the week as well. He called me excitedly, saying that we could turn this into a trip to England and Iceland again for the two of us, would only have to pay for my airfare and some of our expenses as we extended the trip into another week, and I could see more of London during the day while he was in training.

 

Of course I said yes. I could hardly believe that something that sounds so improbable actually came together so easily (well, Bob did do a lot of work to manage it all). And I still get teary-eyed thinking about it—to me, this feels like the Universe is handing us a big Do-Over. After such a hard time, we get to go do this trip again, and now we are in a better place in our relationship, and I am certainly in a better place myself. I’ve lost over 60 lbs since then, I’m not in pain, I can walk and move and fit into things so much more easily, and I feel like I’m more in touch with my authentic self. I get another chance at this, I get another chance at life. And I’m so, so grateful.

 

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Tower Bridge 2014

 

The big lesson I’ve learned in watching this all come together comes courtesy of Bob. I grew up learning to be a negative-thinking person. I was taught to look for what will go wrong, to be on guard, to not expect good things to come my way, and to prepare for the worst possible outcome. It’s kind of a survival-mentality, based on fear. But Bob, bless his heart, is definitely a more positive-thinking person most of the time. He’s also good at taking risks. So when the training was canceled, he didn’t just say “damn, that sucks,” like I might’ve. He started looking for a way to make it work. And when he reached for the bigger stars (training in London!), he just kept not being afraid to ask for what he wanted. London? Free apartment? Airfare? He believed it could work, and it turned out, that was enough. Sure he had to also do footwork to make it happen, but the most important thing he did was believe something great and positive could happen. And it did.

 

I’ve been taking improv classes for a while now (scary but fun!), and one of the basic tenets of improv is to say “yes, and.” When you team up to do improv with others, you’re never supposed to negate any ideas that a partner comes up with—you go along with it and add to it. If someone says, “I’m a pink polka-dot dinosaur,” you wouldn’t say “there are no pink polka-dot dinosaurs.” You’d say, “yes, and you make the best dinosaur-sized chocolate chip cookies!” You build on what is given to you and work with it. It creates a positive relationship and makes the improv work better.

 

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Gates of Buckingham Palace

 

It’s a challenge for me to learn to be more positive– in improv and in life. In the situation of this training (if it had been me) my negativity would have resulted in disappointment, not getting the training, or maybe looking for lesser options. But look where having a positive outlook turned this whole situation around—for Bob and for me. It really has opened up my mind, and it amazes me. How can I apply this to other areas of my life?

 

With all the transforming I’ve been doing in many areas of my life lately, I think this is one lesson I can really use and start applying. And lucky us, we will get to reap the rewards of Bob’s “yes and”-ing the situation. We get a do-over, just as we’re getting a kind of do-over in our relationship too. Oh, how can I not cry a little over this miracle, this gift. Happy tears!

(Photos by Bob or Theresa Alberti)

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Bob by hearth in Shakespeare’s birthplace

 

Feels Like Home

We’ve had a busy few months, preparing for a big 25th wedding anniversary trip to Iceland and England, then being gone for two and a half weeks, and coming home to recover and get back to every day life (recovery and reintegration took longer than I’d thought it would.  I think it’s a sign of age, sigh!). It was a fabulous time and while I didn’t manage to blog about the trip here, I did do daily Trip Posts with photos on Facebook.  if you follow me there, you can go back through my timeline and read about it.

Coming home after being in foreign lands for awhile always feels a bit jarring.  Things and places that you’ve seen so often every day look familiar but a bit different, like you’re able to see everything with new eyes again… at least for a little while.   It’s almost like your eyes, when not in daily automatic-pilot mode, take it all in fresh, and your mind wakes up:  “so that’s what this place really looks like!”

Or maybe it’s just me.  🙂

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I also noticed that some places I revisited when we came home just Feel Like Home– our local Blue Moon Cafe, our co-op, and the farmers markets.  Especially the farmers markets at this time of year, since they’re all closed in Minnesota for the 6 months of cold weather.  When they finally open in the late spring, it’s an explosion of color, smells, sights and sounds.  Every weekend feels like a festival, and shopping the market is so much more fun than running into the dingy grocery store.

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We had such a late spring this year and bad weather, so I hadn’t gone to the farmers markets much before we went on our trip (and there isn’t much actually blooming here until June here anyway). So when we got back from our trip, B and I headed out for one of our weeknd farmers market morning dates.  I had such a feeling of excitement to see all the vibrant bounty everywhere I looked, blended with a familiar comfort as if sinking into a favorite pair of slippers.  There were the booths I always see there, the faces of vendors and sometimes neighbors, the plants and veggies returning for another season, even familiar street musicians.

Appalachian-style dancing lures in a cute little guy

Appalachian-style dancing lures in a cute little guy

It all felt like home, sweet and wonderful.  My heart overflowed with gratitude, to have this community, and these ever widening circles to feel at home in.

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