Category Archives: Beauty

New Year; New Home

Life has been good to me. I’ve traveled some pretty fantastic places around the world, wound up in adventurous terrain, been lost in enchanting and exotic locations, and called many of those destinations home.

But the latest has been by far, the best. The most beautiful.

Check out my new living room/terrace view:

evenings

To the left, I can see where my husband goes to work, where kitesurfers soar over the waters on windy days. In the center, the glistening lights of a little town across the lake sparkle even more in the evenings, when our living room couch doubles as a bed and we can sit/lie and and sip wine together–how’s that for romance? And to the right, the lake continues on southward, traversing through valleys that lie below a cluster of snow-capped mountains, its waters winding through towns and foothills, rippling silently into the distance.

We are still settling in, figuring out where the kids will go to school, how we will continue life in this tiny town, and attempting to learn the language.  But it’s a good start, and a wonderful place to wake up to every morning. We even have a little garden that our tiny gardener has been keeping well-watered.

garten1I thought it was timely that we got the keys to our new house on the same week that I turned 33. The day after my birthday, we moved in, began a new journey as a family. Another chapter closed; a new one begun.

Who knows what the future has in store? Who knows what’s waiting out there? I don’t, just yet.

But I’m excited to find out. Thrilled that, in this beautiful place I’ve been brought to, I find inspiration to paint, being surrounded by my loved ones–my children, my husband, and my friends…even though most of our connections are online these days.

There is beauty everywhere, and I will continue to discover it, though here in Italy one doesn’t have to look very far.

terrace1

1 Comment

Filed under Adventure, Beauty, Change, Italy, life

Wide Awake in Winter

winter2Do you know how snow-dust sparkles? I never knew—until yesterday.

If it is a sunny day, like the ones we’ve been having lately, then winter dances and pierces and sweeps through the senses.

Those snowflakes didn’t just flutter down. They swirled and twirled and whirled like magic. Crisp. Gleaming. White.

Pure white—but sometimes, when the sun’s reflection bounces off of icicles and snow-dust, suddenly, one sees vibrant colors. It is ten degrees below freezing point—and yet, walking through the woods, I feel warmth.

winter walk

This month, the start of the New Year, I am doing lots of celebrating—a magical winter spell sets off the perfect mood; I gaze at the way sharp shadows of light strike the snow at 11 o’clock.

Did you get to celebrate something today?

Celebration isn’t always fireworks, candles and cake. Sometimes, celebration is simply being thankful. It’s acknowledging. It’s saying, “Yes, this is where I am meant to be, and I’m going to make the most of it.”

schnee3Celebration can also be commemorating: observing, honoring, and remembering.

I am honoring my daughter’s first babbles, her awkward “dance” (bouncing) every time she hears the sound of music, and the murmuring exhale she grunts when I tell her she’s eaten quite enough today.

schnee12I am remembering the squishy sound of my son’s gummistiefels as he sloshes through every muddy pile of melting ice.

schnee11And the way his concerned four-year-old voice pierces my train of thought loudly:

“Mom, the baby’s alive!”

(He means, she’s woken up—I must get back to mommy-work.)

schnee5So I’ll be realistic too. Not every moment is met with joy. There is the mundane, day to day that being a mother requires: endless nappy changes, dishes to wash and little people to keep happy and well-fed. Trips to the doctor’s office, meeting with the school principal, laundry to sort, hang, and fold. And always, a floor of toys to sweep.

And maybe, that’s why we need to celebrate the special moments more. Even the ones we think aren’t quite that special.

I take this 3-kilometer walk every day to pick up my son from school. The same routine. My fingers are frozen as we trudge through the show. But I try to make each day on the same route a new experience.

snowy walkThe sunlight’s glint is never exactly as it was yesterday; the village sounds are never just the same. On some days, I find horse-riders trotting through the streets; other times, snow-sweeping tractors plowing through the neighbor’s gardens.

I’ll admit, it wasn’t always so for me. With my first pregnancy, I was also in this same village, and I felt cold, and isolated, and bored.

narnia1It was a new experience in a foreign country (a new continent!), and I’d had all the usual moods a pregnant woman goes through. Not used to eat cold herring and schwarzbrot for dinner, I craved the warmth of tropical islands, the chaotic mess of the city. And oh, yes, I missed speaking English with other people!

It wasn’t easy, that first long winter, before my son was born. And of course, the days following, as a new mom, were even tougher.

But this time around, I’m getting a second chance at choosing: choosing joy over self-absorbedness, artistic expression over boredom. Choosing to see the sun through the shadows, to notice the way nature unfolds, envelops, and captivates. Choosing to appreciate and reciprocate the love of my family here, who care for us so well.

snowy walk3As I walk the same snow-swept paths along the edge of this Eastern German forest trail, I’m glad to be just where I am today.

Sometimes, my daughter is fast asleep in her stroller, and other times, she is wide awake.

Wide awake, I’ve realized, is how I want to be.

Exploring the world with the senses I’ve had all these years, but now finding new ways to use them.

Finding new ways to come alive.

schnee9

Nothing can cure the soul but the senses, just as nothing can cure the senses but the soul.
Oscar Wilde

Leave a comment

Filed under Adventure, Beauty, Change, Children, Europe, happiness, learning, life, Parenting, spirit, Thoughts, Travel

Waking up in Wonderland

Image

Sleep-ins, as all moms know, become something of a distant memory once a baby is born.

But today, I welcome my 8-month old’s wake up call, her whining to go outside.

Because today we are in the “City of Pines”—that lovely, cool climate escape called Baguio. I slip into some comfy strolling clothes, and then push her out into the sweet-scented open.

Image

The breakfast buffet at the hotel’s restaurant smells of buttery croissants, homemade jams, and finely brewed coffee. That, mixed with Asian aromas from the giant spread: garlic-spiced longganisa, honey soy chicken, fish fillets and a large pot of steaming congee. I spy salted egg, banggus and ampalaya ensalada…

But we’re not up this early to eat—not just yet. We’ll wait for the sleeping boys and then pig out later. I’ve packed my camera, so we’ll go revel in this morning hour.

We catch mist rising; cascading streaks of early light. Hints of a perfect day awaiting us, its sun-showers spraying through a forest of impossibly tall pines.

Image

More pretty things on the pathway: beds of flowers, decked with frosty Christmas beads and giant glass baubles, a wishing pond with dancing kois and invisible water nymphs. At its bottom, a thousand coins glisten.

Dare I make a wish?

And still more pretty things: Paved up-hills and down-hills, winding roads to travel on foot. Further on, we overlook a silent lake. There’s a sprawling golf course in the distance, nestled in this carpeted playground of vibrant green.

Baguio city, tucked away in the Cordillera mountain ranges,  was once the recreation destination for US soldiers, when they held bases around the country. Because of its high altitude, the temperature is always pleasantly cool. Today, it’s just 17 degrees, a refreshing change from the usual humidity we’re used to.

My baby basks.

Image

She is silent, enjoying, taking in the peace and stillness of this wonderland. Every now and then, she coos a little, and when the hotel staff greets her with a good morning, she eyes them suspiciously before breaking just a half smile from an upturned, pouty lip.

She’s a bit suplada like that.

I scold her for being unfriendly, but maybe she just needs to get out more. We turn down towards an open road, continuing our stroll until it’s time to sleep again.

And this time, I welcome her dreamy midday slumber with a nap myself.

Image

+++

As partial payment for a project I did for the Philippines Dept. of Tourism this year, I was given a four-day complimentary stay at The Manor. This charming luxury hotel is located at Camp John Hay and—besides other delicious things—serves the most amazing gourmet salads.

http://www.campjohnhay.ph/

Leave a comment

Filed under Adventure, Alexandra, Beauty, happiness, life, Parenting, Philippines, Travel

Not Quite a Tsunami

Pundaquit, San Antonio, Zambales

Pundaquit

Somewhere between multiple typhoons, floods, and other seasonal September weather, we tripped to Pundaquit beach in Zambales.

From a distance, the son and I watched giant, forceful waves rushing, clashing, thrashing at the shore.  But my husband, he had to swim right in.

“Is it a tsunami, mom??” gasped my son, as he teetered on tiptoe, behind a bamboo fence which stood between the beach from the bar.

“No, not quite,” I reassured him, and we watched his dad grow smaller and smaller as he ventured further out.

Securing a spot at the bar, I could oversee both my little boy as he played in the sand, and my big boy, as he maneuvered a surfboard through the reckless ocean. Stealing photographs of him from afar (he doesn’t like his photo taken at all), I was content enough to meet new friends over a couple of cold San Mig Lights and Thai prawn soup.

When it looks this dramatic and beautiful, I can stare at the shore all day. Have you seen some awesome forces of nature lately?

zambales

How to get to Pundaquit beach

 

2 Comments

Filed under Beauty, Philippines, Travel

Two Week Wonder

SAMSUNG

Life has been on pause for the last two weeks, as I’ve slowly recovered from the surgery. I’ve had to depend on others to do things for me, accept that time must move slowly these days, and stay awake at nights for my tiny one.

It’s taken a new turn, this twist in adventures—and yet somehow, it doesn’t seem strange; just the natural flow of things.

It was my son who first broke the news to me. “I have a baby sister!” he declared, one sunny day in Lake Como, nine months ago.

“No you don’t,” I half-frowned at him.

But he did, already. I just didn’t know it.

Trusting his instincts, I asked him, shortly before the birth, “What color is your baby sister’s hair? Is it blonde, like yours?”

“No,” he stated matter-of-factly, without looking up from his puzzle. “It’s black. Schwarz. Like yours.”

And so it is.

SAMSUNG

Now, she’s here, the little lady bug, who sleeps so much I am secretly hoping she stays this quiet and lets me do my work. Her features already take on quite a mature look, though she is just weeks old.

And when she smiles in her sleep, it is the most beautiful thing on earth.

I told you, this is my journey.

Yes, I miss the days of past, of ziplining across gorges while travelling provincial terrains; of backpacking with just my partner, before there were babies; the days of going on a whim, and risking a lot without a second thought.

with orphans

I know someday, I’ll return to Africa, to the tribal regions of the Philippines, to the vineyards of Tuscany, to intoxicating India. But by then, I’ll have my new travelers with me, little feet marking their own path.

And by then, the journeys—as a family—will be even better.

+++

Now, something for smiles: Tina Fey’s A Mother’s Prayer for Her Daughter

Leave a comment

Filed under Alexandra, Beauty, Change, Children, life, Thoughts, Travel

My Girl

Scanning blank pages on this new morning. White space to fill—not mine, but my daughter’s. This new life which has yet to be lived; days and milestones yet to be celebrated.

Moments yet to be realized and treasured.

A brand new start, for something that hasn’t existed yet. How do you capture innocence? How do you celebrate life so pure, so angelic, so vulnerable?

SAMSUNG

We begin a new journey together, my love. And as we do, I hold your hand, but hope to not hold you back.

Life is for learning, exploring, making mistakes, and trying again.

Life is for love, and loss, and living again.

You must write in the pages of your own book—I can guide you, but not write them for you. You will learn with time, grow with the moments; intuition will guide you, and love will always bring you back home.

You were born into a family of travelers, wanderers, explorers, adventures. We will give you the experiences which will be yours to keep, the boat to set sail and launch out to new horizons. But what you find there and where you decide to anchor will be up to you and your choices.

I can hold you and nurture you only for a little while. I can be your strength just a few years.

When you finally go out on your own, when you finally know what it means to follow your heart, I trust that you will hear it beating in all the right directions.

I trust you will find your way.

Just as you found your way to us.

alexandra

Alexandra, born March 1, 2013

2 Comments

Filed under Alexandra, Beauty, Change, Children, life, love, Parenting, Thoughts

Seven Ways to Make Room for Magic

make room for magicI am no coach, no shrink, and no degree-holding professional. I am simply a mother, wife, and lover of life. And life has, in so many ways, taught me—from experience—that there is a force out there, greater than ourselves, which causes amazing things to happen.

As you say hello to all the surprises this New Year has to offer, think about a few conscious things you can CHOOSE TO DO, to make room for the wonders of life’s magic:

  1. BE GRATEFUL. Always have words of gratitude in your heart, and on your lips. Wake up and kickstart your day by saying, thank you.
  2. BE OPEN. Life takes us by surprise. Go with the flow.
  3. SMILE. “Life’s worthwhile, when you just smile,” sang Charlie Chaplin (1887-1977), the famous comedian. Did you know Chaplin was also a troubled soul? Yet he masked his suffering by making others happy. And the world was truly a little bit better because of the “Little Tramp” in his signature bowler hat.
  4. GIVE. You don’t have to give money or things at all. Give your time; give your listening ear; give of yourself in little ways and life will give you back so much more.
  5. FORGIVE. Holding on to the past hurts no one but our self.
  6. LET GO. Renovate and upgrade your life every now and then by doing away with things you don’t need—trinkets, papers, clutter, old clothes, bitterness—all must go.
  7. ACCEPT. After you let go, ta da!—there’s incredible SPACE! And yet, we sometimes let ourselves remain empty and lacking. Do you hold love at a distance because you don’t feel deserving of its warmth? Do you keep miracles at bay because you berate yourself for mistakes made in the past? Allow yourself to accept all the goodness that can be yours this year.
Photo by Rabbi Fink

Photo by Rabbi Fink

Open your heart wide, and let that love flow in. YOU ARE WORTHY.

Welcome it, just as you welcome everything that is NEW and FRESH, and BEAUTIFUL in 2013. Have a magical New Year!

Love,

Nyx

9 Comments

Filed under Beauty, Change, Inspiration, life, spirit

Making Childhood Memories

bay beachbeach bay 4bay beach3bay beach2

 

As soon as we got into Manila, we couldn’t wait to get out.

This week presented our first chance, so the son and I hopped on a bus and found ourselves in Subic Bay Freeport, enjoying sand, sun, and simple pleasures.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Adventure, Beauty, Children, Fun, life, Philippines

Fiery Colors of Fall

October came so quickly, and is slipping away…

But not before I shot some fiery photos of Fall. We hunted for steinpilz mushrooms, crunched our way through the forest, baked Apfelstrudel and Quittenkuchen—after picking the fruit straight from our garden.

Soon, November will be here, and bring wintry changes. But we will be seeing an eternal Summer then—on the other side of the world, where the sun sets last.

What sights excited you this Autumn?

Leave a comment

Filed under Adventure, Beauty, Change, Europe, Fun, life, Travel

Goodbye, Summer–Hello, Sweet Surprises!

The sun rises a little later on this cool September day. just past 8, I wash up and throw on a pullover, then nip across the street to the local Café, where my daily creamy cappuccino is served—along with free WiFi.

But today, its window shutters are down and the Café is closed, quiet and empty. I hadn’t seen the door sign yesterday, that they would be closed once a week now—now that the busy summer is over.

In Europe, where the change of seasons mean a constant transformation of environment, experiences, moods and weather, I’m reminded how fast time flies, and how little of it I manage to fill.

Meandering in Menaggio

This year’s summer season on Lake Como was a beautiful one, tucked between the Alpine mountains that tower over its waters. Now, those peaks are tipped with the first snowfall, and while sunbeams down here are still fairly warm, those white caps crown our tiny village, reminding us that an icy winter is coming.

So we have more travel plans next month, and the month after—crossing countries, continents, and resuming new adventures, where summer never sets. We are dictated by the wind. Here, on the tranquil lake, I did mostly house chore duties, looked after my boys, and enjoyed the open space which lent inspiration to paint and create in a different way.

Bellagio stroll in August

Fun with friends in Gera Lario, North of the lake

Now, I am looking forward to getting back to work—even if it means the bustle of the city, with its vibrations of people, chaos and crowds. I do miss the stimulation, the nightlife and somehow, a bit of the speed. And so, I welcome the shifting winds.

And, I’ve enjoyed every day here in this magical place—the people I have encountered, the time that passed. It brought me lasting memories, and many gifts. And now, I keep a small, three-inch secret tucked away.

…Can you guess what I’ve got?

1 Comment

Filed under Adventure, Beauty, Change, Europe, Fun, happiness, Italy, life, Travel