I'm sitting here in my airbnb flat on a cool but sunshine filled Thursday morning, breathing in a view of mountains and sky. And if I stand in the far corner of my small terrace, the sparkling waters of a lake. I'm not in London, stealing a day off to write. I'm away, and writing seven days in a row. But better than that, I'm doing it in Lago di Como, Italy.
I fell in love with this part of the country of my ancestors years ago when I visited briefly as part of a longer, larger tour of this beautiful country. I loved the variety of landscape and attitude of the many villages that line the shore of this wide and shining lake. The abundance of ferries, buses and trains make it almost effortless to explore the food, texture, and ancient walls, experiencing something unique and beautiful at each stop.
This trip was mainly for my soul sister Bella and I to have some much needed time together, far away from our homes. Since I moved to live in London 3 years ago, we've missed the ease of dropping in on each other, or grabbing dinner on a whim. All the things that distance steals. So we schemed and dreamed and planned a week together, starting in London and ending here in Italy.
But as we planned, an idea started to germinate inside me. My sister had a limited time away. Originally I thought I'd fly home with her and we'd part at Heathrow. But as that little seed of thought grew, I started wondering 'what if'. What if I stayed on another week? I had the vacation time, after all - one of the nicest benefits of living in Europe. But alone? On my own in a foreign country with no one to walk with? Talk with? But oh, the idea of taking time set aside solely for the purpose of writing- for bringing my new book to life? That sealed the deal.
I booked the flat for an extra seven days. The cost was reasonable since I was booking for two weeks total. I made myself a promise to write the larger portion of each day, but to make sure to get out and walk this little village every day. And to do more, to get on a bus and explore at least one new place before I leave. To shrug off my introvert cape and walk down to the local market and practice my Italian with the 80 year old proprietor, Liliana. To breath in the earth and sky and water and let it renew me and fill my head and heart with all the things that my creative soul craves.
I made myself a promise. I gave myself a gift. I realized that all dreams need nurturing, and all souls need stretching. And whether it's going to the park by my house in London, or sitting in my own overgrown garden- walking to the pub and sitting outside watching the people- we have to make those choices to give ourselves these gifts. To PROMISE ourselves to make time and space and spend the money, to risk new adventures and to feed our souls.
Did you ever hear the joke about the man who prays to god every day to win the lottery? One day he weeps and shakes his fist and asks ' My god, why do you forsake me? What do I need to do to win the lottery?' And god replies, ' My son, buy a ticket'.
So my loves, what is the dream you have that you wish for, that you wait for, that you long for? I promise you it will not happen for you if you don't make yourself a promise, if you don't give yourself the gift, however small, and take the first step. And you know what that is, for you. You have to buy the ticket.