Weekend Update: 1/18-1/20

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I had a semi-relaxing weekend. The apartment is starting to come along and feel like a home, rather than a few rooms with boxes and stuff everywhere. I even hung up my gallery wall- which I love so much!

One of my best friend’s, Marie got engaged. However, she scared the crap out of me telling me on the phone. She started with, “I need to tell you something,” then said, really fast, in between what I think were tears some mumbling nonsense with her boyfriend fiance’s name. My overactive imagination jumped to the conclusion that he was in a coma or got in a motorcycling accident, not that he even owns a motorcycle-  I just watch too much TV… Anyways, thankfully no one was in the hospital and I didn’t have to rush across the country to be by my friend! She just got engaged!

My friend Brooke and I decided to try the dive bar in an alley near our apartments. Apparently it’s “world famous”, only takes cash, and has a fabulous musical selection that includes Mickey Avalon’s “My D*ck,” Poison’s “Every Rose Has It’s Thorn” and of course, Trace Adkins, “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk.” Just the classics, ya know…

I also made a stop at the beach to get a free microwave and coffee pot for my apartment! There I got some great antlers for the apartment and got to dip my toes in the sand for a smidge bit. I also got to go to my faaavooorite bakery in the world, well at least the Tampa Bay area. Cafe de Paris at Indian Rocks beach. I went there all the time a couple summers ago when I was living at the beach.

Last night, Brooke, Chelsea and I met downtown for free yoga in the park. There was a festival going on so the class was relocated to a section of the park I had never seen before! I love when I discover something/somewhere new in a place I thought I already knew well!

My friends and I also decided on a new rule that if it’s possible to walk somewhere, instead of driving, we walk. That way, it’s better for our wallets, the environment and our health 🙂

Love, Liv

A perfect day in Milan:

As soon as I stepped foot in Milan I felt like I was home. Probably more so than I’ve felt anywhere else, ever.

Here are my top five things to do in Milan to ensure you have a perfect day.

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1. Buy the current issue of VOGUE ITALIA. Though you could buy it anywhere in Italy I think everyone should buy it in Milan, since it is the fashion capital of the country… it just has more meaning.

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2. Window shop stores you’ve never heard of / could never afford.

These shoes remind me of something a modern Cinderella would wear!
These shoes remind me of something a modern Cinderella would wear!

3. Climb the stairs to the top of Milan’s duomo. It’s the third largest cathedral in Europe!

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4. Then, grab a bite in Milan’s version of “Central Park.”

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5. Go to the museums. Don’t forget to make your appointment to see Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper at least six months in advance or you’ll miss it like me! After you see the official museums check out some of the fun art on the streets!

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Try not to leave your heart in Milan like I did.. I’ve been homesick since I left!

Love, Liv

And I Did It All in Heels

In one month I traveled around Italy, Sicily, Croatia and Spain. I saw brand new places had some of the best experiences I have ever had. I learned more than I had ever anticipated on this trip.

Beautiful seasides, Greek temples, cathedrals, art and culture, pizza and cannollis, are all fantastic but the best experiences I had were thanks to the many people I met along the way. Whether it was someone in my hostel, a stranger attempting to help me when they didn’t speak any English, locals who invited me to sit with them at dinner when they saw me eating solo, or an entertaining tour guide. Above all what made my trip unique were the people I met in this past month. People from all over the globe that even if I never see them again I hope I never forget them and their stories.

Before I left my friends asked me if I was scared or nervous. At the time I was too busy finishing up college to let it register but I honestly thought it would hit me once I was on my own and I would be scared. Although I had my moments where I was scared (cough cough Palermo) for the most part I was so busy enjoying every ounce of my experience that I didn’t have time to worry. Like someone in my last hostel said, “just because you’re alone it doesn’t make you lonely.”

Things I Wish I Packed

For the most part I think I packed pretty well. This is definitely the lightest I’ve ever traveled anywhere for any amount of time (just one backpack for a whole month!) there have been a few things that I wish I had packed.. but at least I’ll remember them for next time.

Here they are:

  1. External drive. I’m glad I didn’t pack my whole computer. I’m in Europe and I didn’t come here to spend my time on the computer. Plus relying on my smartphone and paying for time at internet cafe’s really limits my time on the internet which is good when there is so much to see and do in a new city. However, I do wish I brought my external drive. I’ve been keeping all my files, reservations and guides on my dropbox account which has been great but it would be nice to have something that doesn’t require internet access to get to my documents! Plus, the major reason it would be beneficial to have packed an external drive is that I’ve already filled up the memory card on my DSLR. I’ve been using dropbox again to store images but like I said, I’d feel more comfortable if I had somewhere off the internet to keep them safe!
  2. Towel. Just a small to medium size one so I wouldn’t have to pay one to three euros at every hostel to rent one. The last hostel made me buy one actually for five euros which I found annoying. The towel actually is pretty good for what I need though its small enough to be packed easily and big enough for showers/beach/etc. I’m just pretty sure I could’ve found a similar one for less in the States.
  3. Nyquil/Dayquil. The pill kind. Didn’t pack any because I decided I wasn’t going to get sick and I wanted to save space. That was dumb because they hardly take any space and I did get sick! Thank goodness for the sweet friend I made in Taormina who gave me a couple days worth of both Nyquil and Dayquil!
  4. An art tube. Since I was about 12 I started collecting paintings from street artists in different places I visited (my first one I bought in one of an old ghetto in Prague). I’ve already bought two paintings and tomorrow I’m going to the studio of an artist that I bought from four years ago in Florence. He said he’d give me a REALLY good discount since I’m a returning customer and his paintings are definitely my favorite ones that I’ve collected.
  5. Tevas or Chacos. Or whatever those hippy shoe are. I swore I’d never get a pair but honestly, I wish I had for this trip! I’ve done so much walking and the shoes I brought aren’t as comfortable as I thought they were.

Just a couple little things that would make this trip easier!

Love,
Liv


One week of travelling!

I’ve officially been travelling around Italy and Sicily (apparently they’re separate) for one week now! I’ve been to Palermo, Taormina, Segesta and I’m now spending my first night in Milan!

Taormina was possibly one of the most amazingly beautiful places I’ve ever been to. Actually, the entire island of Sicily is one of the the most naturally beautiful places I’ve ever seen. Volcanic mountains next to the blue ocean- it was remarkable. Even if Palermo did scare me the first couple nights and I woke up screaming from night terrors for the first time in my life. It really wasn’t that bad though. Luckily, one of my friends that did a study abroad with me in Florence two years ago, was also in Palermo at the same time as me.  After exploring of the nicer parts of town, I found that Palermo really wasn’t as bad as I thought. Thankfully I didn’t wake up screaming my last night.

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I met two fun and sweet girls from Wisconsin at my hostel in Taormina. On the last night there we all wanted to have one of those full course Italian meals. I got seafood risotto and veal for my courses. The other girls got lasagna, swordfish and mixed fried fish for theirs. I couldn’t even finish my food but it was delicious. The last morning in Taormina we all did a hike up to an Arab castle and saw some incredible views of the city and sea.

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The other place I visited in Sicily was Segesta. There’s pretty much only one reason to visit Segesta and its for their Greek temple. I think I read that the temple there is actually in better condition than the Parthenon in Athens. It was definitely worth the trip. I missed the bus and had to take the train to get there. It was about 30 minutes longer of a ride and I had to hike a kilometer uphill to get to the temple. At the end I decided that that must be how the Greeks felt hiking up to temple and decided it just added to the experience. There was also a pack of rabid, wild dogs on the way up to the temple. Yes, Sicily has wild dogs. They have red eyes, they growl, they’re not friendly and they are scary. But thanks to some kind Sicilians, who didn’t speak a word of English, that drove on the road between me and the dogs in order to block them from me, I made it up in one piece!

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I really have had the best encounters on this trip. So many kind people have insisted on helping me in little ways even though they don’t know a word of what I’m saying! I’m so thankful for all of them!

Anyways, I have a busy day of museum hopping tomorrow in Milan so I gotta bounce.

Love,
Liv

PS- Laugh!

Daily Gratitude

Early in the day I’ve been trying to make a list of things I’m grateful for currently in my life. When I start off my day by making a gratitude list (either written down or just mental) it can change my outlook to my whole day!

Before I had a chance this morning to create my gratitude list I unfortunately got into an argument with a close family member. When something negative happens in our days its even more important to combat the negativity by thinking of something positive- and the more the better!

The more you are in a negative mood the more likely something negative is going to happen. The same thing if something positive is going in your life. For example, I’ve yet to make the list and two women just cut in front of me at Panera. This normally wouldn’t bother me but because I’m already annoyed I started thinking negative thoughts about these women that I don’t know and that’s just bad karma and nobody wants that.

Here’s my list!

Today I am grateful:

  • that I got the chance to visit my sister this weekend in Washington, DC. Not only did I have a really fun time going to dinner and drinks with her and her friends but we got we went to a really interesting exhibit at the Artisphere in Arlington that was showing photographs that the Mexican painter, Frida Kahlo took during her lifetime.
  • I am also grateful that I had the opportunity to walk around downtown DC all day Friday, while my sister was working, dropping off my resume and introducing myself at different public relations firms- hopefully something will lead to a job opportunity when I graduate.
  • I’m grateful for my sweet friend Alli, who watched my cat, Prince Louis, while I was away!
  • I’m SO grateful for the people I’ve met through my past internship who have been helping me in my hunt for a job by introducing me to their contacts in different cities that I hope to find work in!
  • for my MyPanera card which I was able to get a FREE carrot cupcake this morning!
  • that I was able to find a coupon for $20 off my haircut at a really nice salon in Tampa for when I’m home next weekend! (I REALLY need a cut!)

So that was my list today! I’m not feeling 100% back to my normal chipper self but I am feeling better and I’m ready to take on my day!

I hope everyone has a great week!

Love,
Liv

Mind, Body and Soul Project

This past semester I took a class called Woman Artists with Professor Lillian Goudas teaching the course. When I first selected to take this class I was just looking for credits to help fill my art history minor requirement but I ended up learning much more than the what was listed in the course description.

I first want to mention how highly I think of Professor Goudas. This was the second class I took from her and she is everything a professor should be. She is intelligent, passionate and enthusiastic. She works hard to engage her students and get them excited about not only learning her subject but she encourages them to be excited about the entire process of learning.. and she succeeds in doing so. At the end of last semester she invited students from our class to a delicious dinner at her house (which more professors should do). Having dinner in her home gave us a better chance to get to know our professor a little outside of the classroom.

A wall in her dining room is what her family calls the “Art Wall.” Each year she picks a theme she wants her three young children to focus on. This past year the focus was their mind, body and soul. Each day they were to do something that helped either their mind, body or soul grow, then they create an illustration and hang it on the wall. I thought this was such a fantastic idea I thought I should write that down to be something I can do with my future children. Then I thought that maybe I shouldn’t wait to practice this idea but maybe it could be a personal project this summer. Kind of a “practice what you preach” thing.

So I grabbed some pens and paper and I started making some lists of what I would count for each category that I’m doing this summer… (BTW, I love lists).

Mind:

  • My internship
  •  This blog
  • Reading one book a month (I’ve already finished Nicolas Sparks’ The Wedding and Kathryn Stock’s The Help).

Body:

  • Waking up at 5:30 a.m. during the week to go on a morning bike ride before my internship
  • Going to the gym each day on my way home
  • Also, spending as much time as I can doing outdoors exercising including the sailing lessons I just begun last weekend.

When I got to the Soul category and realized that other than to unsuccessfully attend mass each Sunday I didn’t have too much planned for my soul. I wanted to do something to help others but being as I’m a poor college intern I didn’t have much time or money to do so.My original plan was to put my PR skills into practice and plan an event or dinner that would raise money for a cause that I thought was particularly important and that I cared about.  After talking about some of my ideas with my boss, I decided I should focus on something that involved less planning. Since I am new to town, what I had originally had in mind would have been difficult to successfully pull off with my current schedule. I started on researching an organization where I could volunteer once every week or two.

My junior and senior year of high school I volunteered twice a week at a place called Everyday Blessings, which was a home for children from abusive families. Some of the children living there were up for adoption but most of them are only their until their parents are legally allowed to be their guardian again.  During my time there I helped out in the nursery which was the home for up to five newborns to toddlers at a time. I’ll never forget Sean*, a two year old african american boy, who I loved. Whenever I showed up Sean would run and jump to give me a hug and tell me, “I wub wou, Ms. Wibia,” which I believe translates to, “I love you, Ms. Olivia.”  I would always come home and beg my mom to please adopt him so he would be my baby brother. Which I knew was unrealistic but it didn’t stop me from trying. The week I found out that Sean was finally able to return to his mother I went to Everyday Blessings on his last day so I could say goodbye. I stayed as long as I could and cried the whole drive home.  Although he will grow up and probably has already forgotten me I’ll never forget that sweet little boy or my experience volunteering at Everyday Blessings. Since then I have known that one day I will adopt one of my children from one of these types of organizations.

Anyways, didn’t mean to get off topic but I wanted to try and find a similar organization nearby where I could volunteer again. I searched the internet and called different churches in the area and I couldn’t find anything that really seemed to interest me but the idea of volunteering at Hospice kept popping up. In middle school, high school and college I tagged along with my mom almost everyday to hospitals and nursing homes when my Lita (grandmother), Lolo (grandfather) and Tia (great-aunt) got sick. As much as I hate hospitals, I hate seeing sick old people by themselves alone even more.. especially if they’re IN hospitals.

I enjoy talking to people and making others feel happy so I think that the best place for me to spend a little free time this summer will be helping out once a week or every two weeks at Hospice. I still need to sign up and do some more research on the one nearby but that’s the plan as of now.

That’s my Mind, Body and Soul Project.

These are two quotes that I like a lot and wanted to end with:

“As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.” -Audrey Hepburn

“The best way to cheer yourself up is to try to cheer somebody else up.” -Mark Twain

Love,
Liv

*Name has been changed