I just got home from seeing clients. The house is clean and quiet. Our next set of Airbnb guests are set to arrive any minute.
Instead of settling down with a book, I hopped onto my Facebook writer’s group (Hopewriters) and saw Emily Freeman’s video in which she explained that whenever she doesn’t know what to write, she types the phrase, “These are the days…”
That phrase causes one my favorite Van Morrison songs to play inside my head.
Emily said this simple act helps her get present and focus on what’s happening in her life. Once she does that she’s able to glean words that might become meaningful for others.
I thought that sounded like a fabulous idea so here goes:
These are the days of trip planning.
Five months ago John and I were trying to figure out how to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary. It seemed excessive to try to go to Europe again after taking our family there five years ago when our youngest graduated college, but we wanted to make this marriage milestone really special.
At first John suggested catching a cheap flight and doing this trip on our own rather than taking a tour like we had done in the past. As we researched car rentals, hotels, important things to do, and meals, we hopped on over to Rick Steves’ website. We’ve been watching his travel shows for 25 years, and have taken one of his tours in the past. We rate them A+++.
We studied the dates, and ironically, the tour during our time frame was on sale. Since Rick Steves’ tours are small and you’re allowed to go off and do your own thing, we decided this really was the smart thing to do. We picked the Villages of Italy tour because we’ve been to Florence and Rome and we wanted something less hectic. I don’t relax in big cities. So, we’ll start in Padua, then wind our way into Ravenna, Assisi, Siena, Lucca, Cinque Terre, and Lake Orta. Small towns centered on wine, food, and art.
John realized we could get a much cheaper flight to Frankfurt Germany, rent a car, and see some of Germany and Austria on our own, before our Rick Steves tour begins.
I’ve got to be honest, the ISIS situation has made me a little nervous to travel, but I’m choosing joy and memories over fear. So, I’ve spent the last five months researching activities and hotels for the pre-Rick Steves part of our trip.
Our first two nights will be in Bacharach along the Romantic Rhine. We’re meeting up with our daughter’s business fraternity friend in Koblenz one evening. Then we’re going to the famous Roman baths: Friedrichsbad in Baden Baden. This part of the trip is going to take a little courage since it’s a 17-part spa treatment. In the nude. Haha. I’ve read hundreds of reviews to calm myself. Fortunately, we’re going on a Saturday when genders are separated. Apparently, the Germans don’t get worked up about nudity like we Americans do. After Germany we head to Salzburg and Hallstatt. Then we’re going into the northeast region of Italy—Friuli-Venezia Giulia—the part the Italians head to when Americans flock to Tuscany. Here’s what Lonely Planet says about FVG:
With its triple-barrelled moniker, Friuli Venezia Giulia’s multifaceted nature should come as no surprise. Cultural complexity is cherished in this small, little-visited region, tucked away on Italy’s far northeastern borders with Austria and Slovenia. Friuli Venezia Giulia’s landscapes offer profound contrasts too, with the foreboding, perpetually snowy Giulie and Carnic Alps in the north, idyllic grapevine-filled plains in the centre, the south’s beaches, Venetian-like lagoons and the curious, craggy karst that encircles Trieste.
While there’s an amazing reserve of often uncrowded historical sights, from Roman ruins to Austro-Hungarian palaces, this is also a fine destination for simply kicking back with the locals, tasting the region’s world-famous wines and discovering a culinary heritage that will broaden your notions of the Italian table. Serene, intriguing Trieste and friendly, feisty Udine make for great city time – they’re so easy and welcoming you’ll soon feel as if you’re Friulian, Venezian or Giulian too.
These are the days of Airbnb hosting.
We started doing Airbnb just for fun. Mostly I was interested to see what kinds of guests we would have. This curiousity revealed itself as we were planning our Europe trip. I contacted a local host, online, and we met for lunch. She told me the pros and cons of hosting and it didn’t sound too bad. It turns out we’ve really enjoyed it—it’s typically 20 or 30 year old couples coming to see concerts at Red Rocks amphitheater. Our house is only 8 minutes away.
They almost all do the same thing: Show up at 4 p.m., drop off a small backpack, and rush out the door so they can tailgate at the concert. Since Airbnb is based on trust and good reviews, most people are on their best behavior. They almost never seem interested in breakfast, much less coffee, before they’re on their way. The money has been a nice surprise and has helped finance our Europe trip.
These are the days of mountain getaways.
Summer was busier than I hoped but it was still a lot of fun. We got together with my in-laws, met up with old friends, babysat our new granddaughter….all of those were weekend excursions.
These are the days of easy meals.
Our daughter talked us into trying Greenchef meals. She compared them to Blue Apron and thought it cost a little more but seemed healthier. At first I did it so I could tell Taylor I had, but then we got hooked. I know we are saving money because we only have the ingredients for each meal stored in our fridge. Nothing goes to waste. The meals taste like a gourmet chef made them, and they are pretty healthy. Most of the plate is covered with vegetables, with a small side of fish, chicken, or grass fed beef lying next to it.
I think we’re going to continue doing it.
It’s rewarding to cook when you know it’s going to taste delicious and all your ingredients are pre-portioned sitting on your counter. No more hunting down red wine vinegar to find you’re out.
These are the days of good books and podcasts
My favorite podcast is What Should I Read Next by Ann Bogel (Modern Mrs. Darcy) interviews guests about what their favorite and least favorite books were. She asks what they are reading now, and what they would like to be different in their reading life. Then she gives three recommendations. I can hardly wait to hear each week’s episode.
Last week I read Shauna Niequist’s book Present over Perfect. It went down fast and easy. Man, that girl can write.
This week I’m reading Shoe Dog: A memoir by the Creator of Nike (Phil Knight).
These are the days where I’m looking forward to watching the Jon Benet Ramsey crime miniseries on CBS.
This will be a six hour docuseries. I had no idea the lengths the makers were going to in order to try to put the pieces together. They’re even going to build a replica of the house! I remember when the murder happened. I was sitting at my dad’s house reading a small blurb at the bottom of the fold. The story was less than 24 hours old. Since my son was the same age as Jon Benet, and because it happened 40 minutes from my home, and because it was so bizarre, the article stood out. I followed the details for a few years and then moved on. But last year I got interested again so I ordered this book and educated myself on all the details.
Last weekend my husband and I spontaneously decided to see if we could find concert tickets for Brandi Carlile. I found some on the 15th row, for face value. After visiting with the man who sold them to us, I learned he did video work for Dateline. I asked who he thought did it. After all the interviews he did twenty years ago, and for his upcoming Dateline work (9/11/16), he said he thought it was the same person he has always thought: Patsy (the mom).
Dr. Phil is doing a three part interview with Jon Benet’s brother Burke that will air 9/12, 9/13, and 9/19.
I’d love for you to share what you’ve been up to these days.
Lucille Zimmerman is a Licensed Professional Counselor with a private practice in Littleton, CO and an affiliate faculty teacher at Colorado Christian University.
She is also the author of Renewed: Finding Your Inner Happy in an Overwhelmed World. Through practical ideas and relatable anecdotes, readers can better understand their strengths and their passions—and address some of the underlying struggles or hurts that make them want to keep busy or minister to others to the detriment of themselves. Renewed can help nurture those areas of women’s lives to use them better for work, family, and service. It gives readers permission to examine where they spend their energy and time, and learn to set limits and listen to “that inner voice."