02 February 2012

happy february!

And a belated happy new year, dear readers! I am a little behind, as you can see...

I began this semester with several unfinished projects to complete, and I am still struggling to find the time to finish them amidst the hustle and bustle of a new schedule of courses, teaching, and very limited extracurriculars. And for weeks now I have felt this unfinished business hanging over my head, menacingly, distracting me from my present tasks and causing me to worry. I tend to take on more than I should, but have always managed to get by somehow; now that papers and reviews are piling up, I feel suffocated by them. I must remember to focus upon one task at a time, and to complete it; then I can move on to the next one. And just like that, these past projects will finally belong to the past, so that I can better devote my energies the present.

There are so many things with which I seek to enrich my life— music, dance, art, yoga (oh, and blogging regularly!)— but for now these plans are largely on hold. Slow and steady, I hope to begin to incorporate them into my routine... and to complete that which I have thus far left undone. On this day, the first of February, I pledge to myself to finish all outstanding projects by the end of the month— well, hopefully prior to the 29th, so I can properly enjoy the leap-year day (my beau and I have opera tickets, but I must earn them properly!).

For now I will leave you with a few images resulting from my recent obsession with instagram:

 Daily dose of wisdom, courtesy of Yogi Tea

 My lovely little Christmas tree (yes, it is still up)

My messy desk— I need a new calendar to hang on the wall!

 Delicious fruit pastries enjoyed with the best of friends :)

And the little bakery with the best pain au chocolat in the neighborhood. Yum!

A presto!

xo, Stella

26 November 2011

so very thankful.

In this time of thanksgiving, I have been reflecting on how blessed I truly am. I am surrounded by people who love and support me; I am doing something that finally challenges me, and every day I strive to rise to this challenge; I have all of the resources, inner and outer, that I need to sustain me. I am grateful for all that I have experienced, for it has made me into who I am today.

But a few more specific things— or rather people— come to mind:

A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of unexpectedly running into an old professor of mine from when I first studied in Italy. Her passion for the art and culture of the bel paese had a powerful effect on me, for it was during that seminal period in my life that I learned so much about myself and what it was that I was passionate about: and here I am, seven years later, in graduate school, living the dream that was born one morning as I watched the dawn rise over Venice, largely thanks to her.

Recently I also reconnected with an old friend, with whom I had fallen out of touch, and not under the best of circumstances; after four years, we have found our way back to one another.  We met over a drink and caught up and reminisced about the adventures that we had shared together in Florence— those dizzy days of romance and hope and discovery and uncertainty. It was so wonderful to see her, and to observe how all of the misunderstandings and the hurt that resulted have dissipated with time. In all honesty, I never expected that this would happen. I am overwhelmed by the power of grace, and overjoyed to have my dear friend back, who once was lost to me. 

Similarly, I am so thankful for my closest friend in my new city, who is always there for me. We bonded on a class trip to Rome (I am SO blessed to have opportunities like this, needless to say!), and ever since she has been my confidante and a sister in spirit. Though our faiths are different, she is one of the most open-minded and respectful people I know, and we share a deep connection that transcends any difference in creed. She is a beautiful human being, within and without.

I have also recently celebrated eight months with my boyfriend, a wonderful man who inspires and encourages me; his warmth, tenderness, and generosity of spirit support me in so many ways, and I am so very grateful to have him in my life. Together we have traipsed across the hills of Tuscany, the parks of Disney World, and the avenues of New York City, amongst other adventures... but more importantly, we have shared so many of those quiet, quotidian moments that make up much of our lives, and still we appreciate the beauty in them. I have learned so much at his side, and I look forward to watching our relationship continue to blossom (se son rose ancora non so... but I have a good feeling!).

My family, as always, are at the core of my support system, and I am thankful for them each and every day. I admire my parents who work so hard to provide us with all that we need, and my siblings who are each seeking to find their own paths in their own ways.

And, lastly, I am thankful for every friend with whom I have had the honor of crossing paths, even if only for an instant.

With love,

20 November 2011

a year and a day.

A year and a day ago, I thought I was ready to emerge from my silence. But life had other plans for me:  new challenges and opportunities arose, and I chose to address them without recourse to the virtual world. And so the silence endured. But now I am back, and longing to share with you many tales, dreams, and goals, from that summer onward— when I say 'stay tuned', this time I mean it! :)

walking the path in Pienza.

xo, Stella

19 November 2010

out of the silence, sound.

After a summer of wonder and growth and discovery, and the coming of a glorious autumn, I am back. I did not intend to be silent for so long: I simply needed some time to myself, in the real world, in which I was not thinking about the virtual world, but really, truly, being present. Not an easy task to accomplish: a daily struggle, in fact, but a beautiful one. And so, I am here, speaking once again, in a voice that is not new but perhaps whose timbre has shifted a little.

There is much that I would like to share from my summer, and will in a series of upcoming posts. Suffice it to say right now that I flew across the pond, to a new land and a new language, in search of a new me. I didn't find her, but somehow, little by little, became her. And she wasn't who I had been expecting. Mentally, I landed clad in black and white: over the course of the coming months I learned to appreciate many shades of grey, whose richness I had thought myself incapable of seeing. I was drawn to surprising things, things which previously might not have even warranted a second glance: now I was chasing them down.

I look forward to sharing my adventures with you... stay tuned! :)


02 May 2010

the final push.

In ten days I will have completed my first year in graduate school; one presentation and four papers stand between me and summer, but I can practically taste it. Here in the northeast summer seems to have arrived early. The past few days have been sunny, humid, and upwards of 80 degrees– my summer skirts have finally been released from their dusty prison in the back of my closet! Last night I walked home after a milonga– an evening of tango dancing– without a jacket. Delicious!!

The past month has been a whirlwind of activity, mostly consisting of long days and late nights at the library, and resulting in the some wonderful feedback from my peers. I've been living off of this complement from a third-year graduate student (one of my role models!) for weeks now:

"Tremendous presentation today. You are such a polished and articulate - and SMART scholar. Wow. What fun."
Ahh!!! I don't think I have ever considered myself a scholar, per se, but I suppose I ought to try it on as it appears to fit! I can do this after all. It is going to be a tough push to the end– but I am going to make it! And then: a new European adventure begins. I booked my flight yesterday; my plans are no longer amorphous, but are rather becoming palpable. Soon I will be on the other side of the ocean once again, living in a new land, speaking a new language, becoming a new me... thank you, universe.

26 April 2010

currently loving... olive & a!

Hello everyone! Today the lovely Heather of olive & a has posted my list of things I am currently loving... check it out, and take a look through her beautiful blog! 

xo Stella

15 April 2010

solvitur ambulando.

I agree wholeheartedly with the Augustinian saying solvitur ambulando, it is solved by walking; as I place one foot before the other, my mind in turn is calmed, my thoughts flow, and I am able to work through things. This primarily occurs when I walk alone, yet such moments shared with others have also had a profound effect upon my thinking about a situation.

Certain instances stand out in my mind:

I Dolomiti

On a September morning, I rode a cable car up to the summit of one of the peaks in the Dolomites; what was meant to be a day of hiking became an extended walking meditation. Never had I felt so close to God, both physically and ethereally; I was overcome by the beauty of the landscape, the seeming fragility of the tiny villages dotting the valley below, the stunning effects of light and color. Following my descent from that mountaintop, cliché though it may seem, there was something in me, however small and slight, that was irrevocably changed. Perhaps it was a renewed sense of hope, of perspective, of connectedness... or perhaps simply of awe of the majesty of nature.

Lucine di Natale, Venezia

On a brisk evening in December, I walked with my best friend through the streets of Venice, laughing and admiring the glittering lucine draped across the streets. Eventually we stopped and sat on the steps lining the arcades on the Piazza San Marco, and talked about our dreams–literal and figurative–and together made a promise to never settle for anything less than we deserve, but to keep growing & seeking and to live our ideals. Since then I have often returned to that moment for encouragement, and I am still striving to honor it.

On a February night, bundled in my down parka, I traversed the overpass that crosses the tracks at the Campo di Marte station, stopping to look at the train schedule, wanting to get on the next train, any train, regardless of its destination– to get away, to escape. Instead I kept walking. As I neared my house, I noticed how the sidewalk beneath my feet shone with thousands of tiny flickers of light, as if it reflected the spangled heavens above.

Rogue Wildflowers, Le Cascine

On a sunny yet chilly day in March, I walked arm-in-arm through the Cascine park with an old Italian flame-of-sorts; although things had never really begun for us, we both knew that they would go no further, and that this was the right thing. After a few months of confusion, the time had come to let go. We walked the entire length of the park, largely in silence, and then went our separate ways.

Via della Pace, Roma

On a marvelous summer's night in Rome, I lead a group of students from piazza to piazza, stopping in each and allowing them to explore. I had been feeling distracted all evening, suffering from some indelible malaise that I had not yet put into words, for then I would truly acknowledge its presence, then I would own it, and I would have to do something about it. I was falling for one of my colleagues. When we stopped at Piazza Navona I needed a few minutes for myself, to regain my center. As I walked, I came upon the loveliest little street: Via della Pace, the street–or literally, the way–of peace. It was just what I had needed. I paused for a moment, taking in the atmosphere with its beautifully lit cafés laden with vines, framing a baroque-era church, and found a glimmer of the peace that I had been seeking.

Firenze di Notte

On a sweltering night in July of last year, I walked home alone after having said my final farewell to my first love (who was, in fact, that former colleague): we had held one another there in front of his apartment on Via de' Tornabuoni for a few eternal moments, shared one last lingering kiss, and then said goodbye. I turned on my heels and walked away, without looking back. I placed my hands over my heart as the tears came, and prayed through them. Not even the next day could I remember the precise route that I had taken: I only remember the rhythmic motion of each step, propelling me forward, and my heart beating beneath my hands. It seemed to last for ages, and yet that was precisely what I had needed it to be. Time to walk, to breathe in and out, and to begin to let go, little by little.

E così via, and so on & so forth. So many times have I walked in search of wisdom, of answers, of peace. I have walked toward things and away from others, walked with a specific destination in mind and wandered aimlessly. I have chosen my own path and surrendered to the Universe, allowing it to guide my steps.

And now I am setting forth once again, putting foot to pavement, and seeking...

07 April 2010

talent, the double-edged sword.

For about as long as I can remember, things have come naturally to me; in writing, languages, and music, I have been blessed enough to rely upon my talents, and have achieved wonderful things. I graduated summa cum laude from a prestigious university, became fluent in Italian in less than two years, and worked as a professional musician and teacher, to name a few. And although I work hard throughout these years, always striving for excellence, I cannot truly say that I ever put in 100%.

My talents have thus been both a blessing and a curse. "Imagine how well you would have done if you had given it your very best effort," my father has always told me. My responses were usually of the witty, sarcastic variety, and often seasoned with the grain of salt of youthful defiance. But now I am finally beginning to understand just what these words mean for me, for the direction that my life will take: they communicate the vast expanse between complacency and greatness.

Now that I am in graduate school, I find myself in a place in which, for the first time in my life, talent will no longer suffice; I must work harder than ever before. And frankly, I find this a daunting prospect. No longer can I permit myself to simply get a job done, but rather I must hold myself fully accountable for my work, no excuses, no caveats. I have always been a proverbial sprinter, completing tasks at a whirlwind pace, and yet have hardly begun to develop the endurance necessary for the marathon that is an advanced degree.

I had been feeling rather gloomy about this lately, as I had recently received my first faculty review, in which I was told that I "can and should do better." Not that I didn't do well last semester, but there was still that edge that I was lacking– I had once again relied upon my talents, and they were only able to bring me so far.

I thus proceeded to mope around my apartment for a few days, with a presentation looming over my head like a storm cloud of Eeyore-esque proportions. And then it dawned on me that it is entirely within my power to change this, to grow, to learn to do better and to be better. To be who I truly am: to finally begin to explore the depths of my own capabilities rather than to be content with sailing upon the surface of my potential.

If I have come this far simply through talent, imagine what I might achieve if I finally, completely dedicate myself to the task at hand?

So, these are my new goals: to learn the consistency and discipline that I need in order to complete this academic marathon; to hold myself fully accountable for all that I do and to put in my best effort; and to be grateful to already have all of the resources (inner and outer!) that I need. Greatness, here I come! Un passo alla volta...

24 March 2010

benedetta primavera.

It is officially a few days into spring, and it certainly is showing! I am reminded of what a difference a couple of months can make, even in Venice, albeit subtly... distinctions between the seasons are naturally blurred in the island city, due to its relative lack of foliage. When living there a few years ago, I recall longing for the autumn colors of my youth in New England; here a browning sycamore murmured of winter's coming, there an ivy-clad wall erupted in a fleeting blaze of red. Then greyness, fog, and acqua alta set in, followed by the radiant, piercing light of December. The early months of the new year were intermittently veiled in mist, which gradually dissipated. And somehow the arrival of spring, with its unexpected blossoms, was more startlingly apparent. Take this courtyard for instance:

in febbraio..

... e poi in aprile!

I remember doing a distinct double-take when passing this courtyard again in April; the violet overflowing of wisteria and the yellow blooms on the well heralded the blessed commencement of springtime. In the meantime, much had changed in my life: I had let go of a complicated relationship, moved out of an unproductive living situation and into a new apartment on my own, and shared a portion of my Italian life with my father, who came to visit me for the first time. Everything was once again fertile, flowering, alive– within and without.

Who knows what will blossom this spring!

25 February 2010

re-centering & summer hints...

Ciao a tutti! It has been quite some time since I've posted, and I wanted to let you all know that I've enabled comments, so leave me some love!

I have recently been plotting my next great European adventure (!!) which will be taking place this summer... here are a few hints: it will be starting with about a month in Germany––something new! And then I will venture south of the Alps to warmer climes and the indelible flavor of Italy in the summer. And... there will also be some time in a monastery involved.

In December I had a very vivid dream in which I spent a season in a monastery, after which I was ready and receptive for love to re-enter my life. Ever since I have been rather spellbound by this image, and though I can't just drop everything to run off to a cloister for three months, I have been craving the peace, simplicity, and solitude that this would give me, that it would help me to find within myself.

So often I am overcome by the insignificant worries of the mundane, caught up in the seeming drama of the quotidian happenings of my life: stressing about work, projects, deadlines, family, money, singleness, &c... It is so easy to loose focus! February has been a particularly difficult month in this regard; add on a few snowstorms (which were lovely while fresh, but then evolved into an awful nuisance! there is quite a difference between fluffy, newly fallen snow and the ice & slush that invariably follow), the demise of my favorite old winter boots, mopey feelings around Valentine's day, and giving up sweets and coffee for Lent (there is a bag of chocolates in my closet that is calling my name every five minutes or so).

What does all this mean for Stella? Time to recenter myself! I have been doing yoga every morning and night and taking this marvelous (though awful tasting) detox drink daily, and I can feel it working its magic. Add to that a beautiful box full of ruby red grapefruits, temple oranges, and honey tangerines courtesy of dear ol' Dad–– this should tide me over. I've also just joined a gym that is right around the corner from my apartment. It is time to make good on my new year's resolution to be in my body and honor the temple that it is!

 Here's to a wonderful March. :)

15 January 2010

thank you, universe.

Some people just have big hearts, Stella. And with this gift they're very often able to feel, offer, and show far more love than they receive from those around them. Which, at times, is a heavy load to bear. So today I'd like to remind them, and especially you, that the sun asks not that the moon and planets help brighten each day, but relishes her role as a keeper of the light and a bringer of the dawn. A role much like your own.

Happy weekend, from the Sun and I -
The Universe

12 January 2010

wanderlust and wonder.

"We travel, initially, to lose ourselves; and we travel, next, to find ourselves. We travel to open our hearts and eyes and learn more about the world… And we travel, in essence, to become young fools again—to slow time down and get taken in, and fall in love once more."

-Pico Iyer


I am yearning to travel again, to pack the lightest suitcase in my closet and buy a plane ticket... there is so much that I love about traveling, particularly traveling alone, and not just about going to new (or well-loved) places, but about the actual process of transportation. To the surprise of many I adore airports: there so many lives converge in a singular moment in time, arriving from cities across the globe and then dispersing, on to the next adventure or business venture. The man in the seat beside me on the airplane may be returning to his hometown for the first time in years; the girl sitting across the aisle may be crossing the ocean for the first time in her life. So many different stories, emotions, desires, possibilities.

When I travel, I feel a great sense of freedom, as if I can inhabit any one of myriad states of consciousness. I can be whoever I decide to be. In this day and age, we cannot travel under an alias, and yet we can adopt a certain persona when we travel. We are surrounded by strangers, and all is unfamiliar. Gone are the bonds that remind us of who we, and others, think we must be. Travel is revivifying, exhilarating, liberating. I will admit it: at times, when boarding a Virgin Atlantic flight, I have adopted a British accent; on an Alitalia flight, I speak to the flight attendants in Italian. And what a thrill! I long to experience this again, and soon!

01 January 2010

all is new!

Here's to 2010: may it be a year of love, light, and blessings.

This year my greatest project is to finally get in shape, and maintain it. Once my body is a fit channel, all other aspects of myself will function better as well, emotional, mental, spiritual. I want to truly be in my body, for it is the temple of the living God. I must honor it!

I will also meditate daily, to continually re-center myself upon that which is most important to me. This will be a year of striving to live my ideals every day. I must set the pattern now for the direction in which I want my life to move in the future, and I feel that great and marvelous things await me along my path: I must trust in the abundance of the universe, and honor the divinity within me.

I will practice emotional alchemy, transforming negative emotions into positive ones. The time has come to let go of all past sorrows; they have taught me beautiful lessons, and I am grateful for all that I have learned. I acknowledge that I needed to work through them in order to arrive in the place in which I stand today. But I must continue to move forward. I can no longer allow myself to rub salt in these old wounds, for they must finally heal. This is my true desire: to move towards wholeness through forgiveness and compassion, for others and myself.

With every day and the wonder, beauty, and challenge that it presents, I hope to grow in grace into the woman that I want to be.

11 December 2009

The Light in the Piazza

Tonight I took myself out on a lovely date: octopus carpaccio and a glass of pugliese red wine, followed by the theater. I finally saw The Light in the Piazza, and it was lovely, lush, lyrical. And of course I was overcome with waves of nostalgia as my mind wandered back to Firenze, where I, too, first fell in love. What a time of wonder and discovery it was for me… so much hope, and joy, and light. And though it had to end, I wouldn’t trade one moment of it for the world. Some of the lyrics in the show spoke to me so vividly:
“This is wanting something, this is reaching for it,
This is wishing that a moment would arrive.
This is taking chances, this is almost touching what the beauty is…
This is wanting something, this is praying for it,
This is holding breath and keeping fingers crossed.
This is counting blessings, this is wondering when I’ll see that boy again.”
Well, not that boy—his ship sailed long ago, quite literally—but someone new. My heart is still full of hope. But until that time comes, I will continue taking myself out on dates as I did tonight!

01 December 2009


"They are spectacular whilst in full bloom, they brilliantly colour the landscape for a few weeks but, soon after, when they begin to fade, there is a long, slow deterioration for at least a couple of months."


on sunflowers. rings true on so many levels… when I read this my head spun for a moment, with echoes of memories of a fleeting and faraway time.

but I am here, now, and all is well in the world because I am living my dreams.
Ende der Geschichte. :)