Salzburg. Mozart. New Friends.

Salzburg
I am in Love with Austria. My husband and I both have family ancestry from this lovely and majestic country and we are so thankful for our visit. Spending time in the Motherland and getting in touch with my roots in different countries, is quite powerful.  I feel very fortunate and find myself in awe a lot of the time.

We rented a beautiful and centrally located apartment from two people who will now be lifelong friends, Manfred and Desiree Dalus. City Apartments are located on the Getreidegasse (also known as Grain Lane). It is a charming shopping street in the Old-Town section of Salzburg. We were a stone’s throw away from a very special place. The house at no. 9 Getreidegasse is where Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born and where he lived until the age of 17. Please take a few minutes and read about him when you have time.  I was amazed to learn so many facts I didn’t know about him and I can’t believe he died at the young age of 35. He was truly brilliant. We’ve been listening to his music while here and it’s only magnified the heart and soul of this city. I love Classical music and the sound of it playing in the streets while strolling through the day or evening takes me right to the 18th century. How grand and lovely.

Manfred and Desiree have a delicious gelato cafe downstairs called Eisgrotte as well as mouth watering pizza available for take away. The boys were so happy knowing these were here and they enjoyed each day. You must stop by when in town.

Manfred & Desiree

Salzburg is where the Sound of Music was filmed and as I mentioned, the birthplace of one of our greatest composers of all time, Mozart. As I’ve cited in previous posts, history is more interesting than ever before for me. We can learn in school, read books and pass tests on several subjects, however, I am experiencing education in such a new way. I feel the same for my boys and this way in which they are experiencing education. When you are surrounded by the subjects you are studying or simply experiencing by way of living each day, you not only learn more about the subjects, but you are also more interested. I am so fascinated each day as we touch and feel the deep, rich and diverse history upon us. I am often covered in goose bumps as I walk though these historical places. The tingles inspire me and connect me on some level to the periods in time as well as the people.

mozart

One evening Manfred rang our bell and asked Dana if he was a musician. Dana excitedly said yes. He then invited us up to their home and his studio where Dana got to plug in and play loud on the electric guitar. It’s been quite awhile for him and I was so happy he got the opportunity to play. I could feel the enthusiasm and excitement from both Dana and Manfred as they played together. They seemed like young boys playing in their parent’s garage for the first time. Our boys danced and admired their Daddy on the guitar and we had such a wonderful time.

These are the moments. The ones that inspire me and make me realize yet another reason we are here. We are in Austria with two very special people, in their home, with our boys, dancing and listening to loud music. It was fantastic.

Thank you Manfred and Desiree, from the bottom of our hearts, for being so kind, warm and hospitable to our family. We are so grateful to know you and we look forward to meeting again one day…somewhere in this vast and beautiful world. The passion you have for life is akin to mine.

I am so grateful for this time on earth, my family, and the special people I meet along the way. Life is amazing. Even when it’s challenging. In the difficult moments, love and patience get me through and I come out on the other side with just a little more wisdom and a little more light.

Servus Austria!
We Love You.

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Passengers

boysAustria

Servus Austria!

We will never forget you and we’ll see you again one day. Thank you for being so beautiful, warm and kind to us, dear Austria. Salzburg, you are so very special. We are awaiting our train to Switzerland and we’ll enjoy your lovely countryside along the way. Much Love from all of us.

Linda McCartney

Linda McCartney
As we recently strolled the streets of Vienna, my new favorite city, we stumbled upon the above museum gallery posting. As I always say, everything happens as it should and for a reason. This lead us to the highlight of my day and kept us out of the cold and pouring rain.

I have always admired Linda McCartney. Her photography. Her passion for animal rights and activism. The love between her and Paul. She continues to inspire me and their love has always touched my heart.

My husband and I always educate and discuss along the way with our boys. We talk about the cities, the history, the art, the landmarks, etc. We gain knowledge each day as well in order to share with them. I’m always discovering, growing and learning and I’ve never been more interested in history and this world we live in, as I am now.

Our boys ask so many questions and they are so interested in everything. Initially, they are fascinated by the stories. Experiencing these stories coming alive only solidifies and sparks their interest more. It amazes me each day when I find myself in conversations with our 3 and 5 year olds about the Titanic, the Beatles, Mozart, Jewish history, and Leonardo Da Vinci…to name a few.

I was immediately enlivened as we entered the Museum Hundertwasser. This was Linda’s first comprehensive retrospective of her work. As we peacefully viewed the exhibition, I explained each portrait. My boys inquired about Eric Clapton, Mick Jagger, Jimmy Hendrix, the Beatles etc, and tears of deep joy fell from my eyes.

Linda McCartney Gallery

I enjoyed perusing her professional photographs but mostly I was moved by the intimate expression captured in her family photos. She said her point of view changed once she gave birth and her photography became much more personal and close to her heart.

This I truly understand and relate to. I saw a lot of myself in her that day. I felt her love for her family. I felt her love for photography. I felt her love for life, humanity and animals. She wasn’t technically trained but she captured people. She captured true emotion and moments. She didn’t stage photos and this is what I’ve always appreciated about her work.

This is how I approach photography. I capture moments. I do my best to capture the true essence of a person. The raw beauty in an object or structure. I am always present and yet, my camera is always ready. I’m not snapping my fingers or setting up scenes. I am playing, engaging and experiencing, all while capturing what I don’t ever want to forget. This happens several times in each day for me.

These memories will last a lifetime within my being. I get that. The photographs I take vividly bring me back to moments in time. I re-live each moment whenever I want to.

As we continued walking through the gallery, which sadly I was unable to photograph, I realized once again how precious and significant each moment is. I believe we are always evolving.  As the days go by, I envision different things in my future and I just added another one of those visions to my list.

One day, I will hang my photographs on walls such as these and tell my stories. This is a dream I’ve always had and will now share with you. I am not technically trained. I’ve never taken a class in photography. I only know that photography and writing have been the constant, powerful tools and mediums in which I’ve expressed myself for most of my life.

People often say that I don’t appear in many photographs. I disagree. I am in each and every one. I am the third eye, so to speak. As you look at my photos, my wish is that you not only see the subjects, but also experience and feel my vision. I hope in some way you feel inspired. The photographic lens truly captures my experience in this life. A pencil, pen and keyboard do the same, but that is for a different post.

We went to the museum cafe for a slice of cake and tea and I marveled in the perfection of the day. The boys wanted to know everything and we discussed it all. Linda McCartney, you have 2 new young fans. Much Love and Peace to you, beautiful woman. Thank you for the many gifts you left behind. You, your passion and your love will always live on.

Linda McCartney

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Love in Berlin

roses
We walked by this lovely florist in Berlin last week and my little Aston said,

“You deserve all of the flowers in the world, Mommy.

I’d like to give all of these roses to you.”

As my heart completely melted, I realized how happy he will make a very special person one day.

I’m grateful that for today, that person is me ❤

Father’s Day Letters

My Guys on our train ride to Bruges for my Birthday and Father's Day ❤

My Guys on our train ride to Bruges for my Birthday and Father’s Day ❤

The two letters below are very powerful and both touched my heart deeply. I had to share as these are very important reminders and lessons for all. Happy Father’s Day.

A Father’s Letter of Apology to His Boys (For Father’s Day)

Dear Boys,

Today, I arrived at my office door, my mind spinning with countless concerns — house repairs and my therapy clients and blog comments and how to convince your mother I was right about something completely inconsequential. I found myself lost in the crowd of my various identities — homeowner, psychologist, writer, vindicated husband.

But then I found my office keys and the keychain you made me for Father’s Day and the three big, brightly-colored letters you inscribed upon it:

D-A-D.

I got ambushed by my most important identity — Father. And I realized for an entire morning, like so many mornings before it, I had gotten distracted from my most sacred role by all of my perfectionism, my sense of duty, fear of rejection and my desire for affirmation.

And something inside of me cracked.

I think it was my ego — the voice inside telling me if I want to be good enough I have to look perfect, take care of everyone, win everybody over, and be right all the time.

Boys, I want to apologize for my fierce but fragile ego.

Boys, I want to apologize for all of the ways I let my ego prevent me from being the kind of father of which you are completely worthy.

I’m sorry for every time you’ve needed an embrace and I gave you something less because affection requires time and presence and vulnerability.

I’m sorry for every time the projects in my life have been more important than the people in my world.

I’m sorry for every time I’ve demanded respect, instead of earning it.

I’m sorry for every time I’ve said, “No,” simply because I can.

I’m sorry for every time I’ve told you to be humble and then turned around and acted like losing was the end of the world.

And I’m sorry for every time I didn’t say, “I’m sorry,” because they are, I’m learning, two of the most important words a father can say.

But mostly, Boys, I’m sorry for all the times I have communicated in subtle and not so subtle ways that your worth is conditional upon my approval or my mood or the consent of my fragile ego.

Boys, don’t let anyone — including me — convince you that your worth is rooted in anything so transient as another person’s opinion of you.

Your worth is conditional upon nothing.

You came into the world with infinite value and you will leave it in the same way, regardless of what you do or don’t do in this life. I know this seems too good to be true — in fact, many people will tell you it is a recipe for entitlement and narcissism — but if you can learn to trust it, you will be free.

Free from the game of ego inflation in which so many of us are constantly embroiled.

Free to live what is written on your souls, rather than what other people have written upon you with their own brokenness and wounds.

Free to love yourself — and therefore others, as well — without condition and without limit in a world that places every kind of condition upon love and belonging.

Free to create beauty and abundance in a world that seems to be threatened by both.

Free to become portals of grace in a world that thrives on shame and condemnation.

Boys, instead of placing conditions of worth upon you, I want to become a reflection of your worth — I want to mirror the awesome beauty I see in both of you, so you can begin to see it in yourselves.

In the end, Boys, I hope you can spend your lives knowing who you are, instead of constantly proving who you are.

With deep admiration for who you are, all the time, wherever you go, whatever you do,

Dad

——

After I wrote a letter to my daughter, an interviewer asked me what words I would have for my boys. My first thought was, “Just two words: I’m sorry.” Because those two words have the power to undermine the ego game in which boys and men are so often encouraged to compete.

So, I wrote this for my boys — because I want them to be free of the game.

And I wrote it for the men who have had the courage to sit in my office, to feel broken, to let their egos die, and to discover who they really are.

And I wrote it as a permission slip to a world of fathers who have an opportunity to fundamentally change the way our world works, by freeing the next generation from the game we play, one father and one son at a time.

Kelly M. Flanagan

What I Know About Fatherhood After Losing A Child

If I’m going to be honest, I must admit that I sometimes look at fathers who have never lost a child with a bit of envy. I wish that I, too, could experience the joys and challenges of fatherhood outside the gloom of child loss. However, if there’s anything positive to be taken from what I’ve been through, it’s that I have a newfound awareness that has made me a better father to my other children. While I hope no father who reads this ever knows the pain of losing a child, I do hope that if I share what I have learned, others might take away a new perspective about how lucky we are to be fathers.

Parent without regret.
I have a lot of friends who say that while their fathers are terrific today, this wasn’t always the case. This isn’t because their fathers were bad men, but because it takes a quantum leap in maturity to go from caring for only yourself and your spouse to caring for a child as well. Many men aren’t ready to make that leap right away and need a number of years to mature into the kind of father they can be proud of. When you lose a child, though, you never get the chance to become a better parent to that child. Who you were when they were alive will always be the father you were to them.

Thankfully, the 68 days my daughter, Maddie, spent in the NICU after she was born made me grow up in a hurry, and I was a very loving and involved father during her 17 months of life. But I still have regrets. In the weeks before Maddie passed away, my wife, Heather, invited me to join them on a play date at the park, but after a long week of work, I begged off so that I could veg out on the couch. Knowing that I passed up one of my daughter’s last Saturdays in the sun is something I feel terribly guilty about. So I ask fathers this: If your child were to die tomorrow, would you be able to look yourself in the mirror and say you were the parent you wanted to be? It’s a sobering question to ponder, but an important one. Fatherhood is happening right now; embrace it fully from the start.

Take care of yourself.
One of the most important lessons I learned after the birth of my second daughter, Annabel, was that in order for me to care for her to the best of my abilities, I needed to care for myself. To do that, I had to continue to address my grief and make sure I never let it overwhelm me. I realized that it was going to be difficult enough for Annabel to grow up in a home that had lost a child, and the last thing I wanted was for her to tell me one day that, because I was preoccupied with grief, I wasn’t the father she needed. As difficult as it is to live with grief, it’s my problem, and it should never become hers.

Most fathers don’t have to deal with child loss, but they may have other issues they need to address such as substance abuse, depression or anger issues (to name a few). Every father owes it to his children to deal with — and conquer — whatever issue he may have.

Be patient with your spouse.
Having children changes your life dramatically and brings with it many new responsibilities. When the demands of parenting become overwhelming, it’s all too easy to take it out on your partner and argue over insignificant things like who changed the last diaper. My wife and I sometimes bickered over things like that in the past, but not anymore. Having lost a child, we now view each dirty diaper, tantrum and spilled glass of milk with gratitude, because we know all too well what the alternative is. We still have our disagreements, of course, but we try to resolve them with kindness, patience and love. Having seen each other go through the deepest depths of despair, we want only to support each other, and by doing that we’re creating a stable environment for our children to grow up in.

Be kind to yourself.
Lastly, I could dwell on the mistakes I made with Madeline (like skipping that last Saturday at the park), but I’ve learned that nothing good comes from that. Instead, I focus on happy memories and the incredible love Maddie and I shared. Parenting is difficult. Today, even with everything I’ve been through, I still make mistakes. When I do, though, I don’t beat myself up. I pledge to learn from the mistake and do better tomorrow. In parenting there is no clear victory, but as long as you’re fully invested in your children and trying your best, you will be at peace with yourself no matter how long — or short — your children are in this world.

Mike Spohr

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National Railway Museum

train

I just uploaded my photos from our visit on our website.

I just wanted to share a little something I learned there and made me think of how far we’ve come in communication.

When chefs ran out of supplies during the journey, they
hollowed out a potato, put a note inside and threw it out at the next signal box.

The signaler telegraphed up the line and Everything they needed would be waiting at the next station.

I’m grateful I don’t have to throw potatoes out to you guys to share this bit of info. I ❤ Facebook.

Medieval York

Medieval York
Walking on the ruins of a massive fortress built in AD 71. Medieval York. Fascinating history lessons each day for all of us.

I Am Woman. Hear Me Roar…

I am Woman
We are all unique. We all make different choices which lead us down distinctive paths. When we become Mothers, we evolve even further and the variance of our choices continue.

I am a dedicated, Attachment Mother. I don’t want the label of ‘attachment’ to express that I belong to a special club. The term simply defines my ways. Since being on this trip, it has been the four of us, 24 hours a day. We stick together as a family and we spend our days and nights together as a family. Many would argue and have argued that I must make time for myself. I agree.

Life doesn’t come without sacrifices and this is one I choose to make. With these sacrifices, as with any, there are areas in our lives that suffer. Taking time for myself has been one of those areas. I can’t imagine doing things differently. This instinctual nature took over when my first son was born and I am so grateful that I get to raise my boys full-time.

I feel the purest love every single day. That doesn’t mean every day is easy. In fact, today was one of those challenging days. One of those days I questioned myself and wondered what I could do better as a parent. A day that I was grateful for my high level of patience. A day that I wished I could take a break and catch my breath.

This journey we are on is life-changing. My husband and I spoke last night about how powerful this all is. As we browsed through photos from our trip so far, we were reminded that these memories will last our lifetime. Although there are rough days, these days aren’t the ones we will take with us. We will only grow stronger. All of us. We are gaining perspective and enlightenment in each moment. Our bonds only strengthen as the days go on.

I strive for balance in my family, my marriage and for myself. I grow daily in my efforts to achieve it. I don’t always succeed. It is a life worth enjoying and struggling through, all while we shift and evolve. The constant need and desire for balance and harmony…this is life.

I’m discovering how important it is to nurture and embrace my femininity. I’m not about how things look on the outside. I believe True Beauty shines from within. That said, if we don’t feel beautiful or good about ourselves, we don’t allow ourselves to shine. We don’t thrive in all of our Feminine Glory. We hide our light under a bushel and think we don’t care…but we do.

So, on that note, I hadn’t colored or cut my hair in way too long. The grey roots and 3 different shades of brown and black just weren’t working but I acted as if it was fine…for the sake of, “Who has time to go to a salon” or “I don’t want to try another box with my (leave on color for way too long) hands.” I thought being ‘no maintenance’ was the way to go but I’d taken that too far. I made the decision to go to a salon recently, and get this long, disheveled mess coiffed and hued.

I found a very special and talented young woman named Kelly Saunders at Jo and Cass Salon in Kendal. As soon as I sat down, I knew I was in the right place. I actually exhaled and relaxed and it was heavenly. Dana played with the boys at a nearby park and they went to lunch and had their necessary “man time.” I grabbed a magazine, had a delicious latte and biscuit and watched the gray fade away. Ahhhhh…what a couple of hours in a hair salon can do for a woman. I obviously forgot.

I read great articles about women and our need to take care of ourselves. I looked at girly things which I don’t take the time to do anymore. I realized in those moments that this time is mandatory. I will be better in every way if I only take this time. Thank you so much Kelly for the gift of that day. I didn’t realize how badly I needed such a simple thing.

I believe we all have our ups and downs in parenthood just like we did in life before our children. We have moments and days in which we can’t wait for the sun to go down. Those are often followed by days filled with bigger smiles and deeper love than ever before.

I want to be the best version of myself. I want to embrace this precious life with all of the love in my heart and do all that I am meant to do while here. I love the husband, children, family and friends I’ve been given. I love our boys more than words can ever express and they inspire me to LIVE and SHINE in each moment.

Let Your Light Sparkle. Take Care of YOU. This will allow us to be everything we need to be for ourselves and therefore, everything we need and want to be for others. The saying is so true about the oxygen mask on the plane. We must put ours on first. (Thank you, Mary for always reminding me of this). Everyone around us will be grateful and our true power and radiance will shine and make differences all over the place.

I am learning this now, more than ever.

Here’s to you…Beautiful, Strong and Powerful Women Everywhere.
You are Amazing.

I Am Woman ~ Helen Reddy (Sing It Out Loud)

I am woman, hear me roar
In numbers too big to ignore
And I know too much to go back and pretend
’cause I’ve heard it all before
And I’ve been down there on the floor
No one’s ever gonna keep me down again

Oh yes I am wise
But it’s wisdom born of pain
Yes, I’ve paid the price
But look how much I gained
If I have to, I can do anything
I am strong
I am invincible
I am woman

You can bend but never break me
’cause it only serves to make me
More determined to achieve my final goal
And I come back even stronger
Not a novice any longer
’cause you’ve deepened the conviction in my soul

I am woman watch me grow
See me standing toe to toe
As I spread my lovin’ arms across the land
But I’m still an embryo
With a long long way to go
Until I make my brother understand

Oh yes I am wise
But it’s wisdom born of pain
Yes, I’ve paid the price
But look how much I gained
If I have to I can face anything
I am strong
I am invincible
I am woman
Oh, I am woman
I am invincible
I am strong

I am woman
I am invincible
I am strong
I am woman

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A Wonderful Day in Bath

Royal Victoria Park

Today was very special. Royal Victoria Park in Bath is just glorious.

Tea and crumpets for breakfast, miniature golf, sandwiches in the park for lunch, history lessons, dancing, balloons, and a day filled with play, joy and love. I am so grateful…and exhausted 🙂

Sending Love from England.

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