A few months ago, we came across a program called “Workaway.” It’s an online organization that allows people who need help to find those people who want to help. Or conversely, people who want to help, can find someone with an engaging project. The idea is simple. If you want to spend time in Norway, then find a project and volunteer. How about New Zealand? South Africa? Peru? Just send them a message and see what happens. You might be surprised. We were. (more…)

On a brisk, cool Saturday morning in September, we set out on our trek through the French countryside. From Rue de Saint Jacques in the town of Le Puy-en-Velay to Conques, toward Toulouse, the trail known as the GR 65, wends its way through some of the prettiest French villages in the country. Within minutes, we were on the pilgrims’ footpath, leading to Santiago, Spain, which overlooks the Atlantic Ocean. But we weren’t going that far . . . not even close . . . not this time. Our plan was to cover only a little over 200 kilometers (125 miles) in 10 days. Next year, perhaps we’ll walk another section. We’ll see. Our conclusion is that those medieval pilgrims were some pretty tough cookies indeed! (more…)

We decided to take a big walk!

Sometimes it’s helpful to symbolize life’s journey by creating a walk that challenges us with everyday trials, on our way to a special destination. It’s even more powerful when that path is one that’s served as The Way for millions of pilgrims over centuries of soulful walking.

The Way of Saint James is one of the most famous pilgrimages in the history of the world, and is made up of countless paths throughout Europe, all converging at Cape Finisterre, at the western coast of Spain. Finisterre means “land’s end,” and was definitely thought of in ancient times as the “end of the world.” What better destination to symbolize life’s pilgrimage? (more…)

Gordon Matthew Sumner wore a favorite black and yellow striped shirt so often, that a friend finally blurted out that he looked like a bee. The nickname stuck. You might know him better today as Sting.

We’ve always enjoyed his particular style of jazz/rock, and have waited for him to show up in concert in our neighborhood for a decade or so. That day finally arrived, and it was well worth the wait. He played at a place called Piazzola sul Brenta, which is a town not far from Venice, Verona, and Padova. Piazzola was never a particularly noteworthy destination until they decided to develop the magnificent 16th century Villa Contarini (attributed to the famous architect Andrea Palladio,) into an unbelievable concert venue. Now, it has worldwide acclaim, and for very good reason! (more…)

Where do science and religion intersect?

According to artist Cornelia Parker, the two opposites are currently merging in the corner of a room in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco. She calls it Anti-Mass, and the work of art is currently housed at the de Young Museum, gallery 16, to be exact.

Recently, when a soulful Southern Baptist Church burned to the ground at the hands of arsonists, Cornelia, with permission, collected and reclaimed the charred timbers of the once-vital wood structure. And then, without permission, she began her magical transformation that would, in her own artistic language, fuse science and religion; mind and heart; tangible and spiritual; grounded and otherworldly; violence and reverence into a powerful image, to lure people out of dualism and at least momentarily, into an awareness of the underlying unity of all things. (more…)

According to the classic story of the Velveteen Rabbit, becoming REAL is everything in life. And if that story has a thread of truth in it, then Brandi Carlile is well on her way. At 30-something she has talent and insight beyond her years, as anyone who listens to her storytelling can attest. We enjoy her music and have been trying to catch one of her concerts for years, but we were never in the same place at the same time—that is, until last Tuesday. (more…)

Italy has an impressive system of roads that range from the strada bianca, white road (gravel), to the autostrada—which is the equivalent of the interstate in the US. You pay your way in Italy (in more ways than one). Actually, it’s not a bad idea. Those who use the autostrada the most, pay the most. It’s sort of like the state-owned and operated toll bridges in the Bay Area. Both systems provide quite a few permanent jobs, so in these economically challenging times, there’s nothing wrong with that! And by the way, every autostrada comes fully equipped with more than a few autogrills! (more…)

In the Ligurian town of Rapallo, along the northern coast of Italy, three brothers are making a name for themselves and their restaurant.. They attract a diverse crowd at their popular place called K2—but that’s only the beginning. More than a mere meal, what really happens behind the driving beat, the flashing big screens, the delicious food and great conversation is a real Italian experience—Sicilian style!

While visiting the famous and beautiful coastal towns of Portofino, Rapallo and Santa Margherita, we discovered that the main attraction for us was the restaurant, K2 (Rocco e i Suoi Fratelli, Rocco and his brothers). Here the brothers Costanzo charm your socks off, and give you a first-class lesson in following dreams and values. Our first dinner was a magical evening that made the visit not only fun, but memorable—perhaps even life-changing. (more…)

A quarter cup a day keeps the doctor away! That’s the adage that our friend Giacomo‘s father lives by and he’s in his nineties.

A quarter cup of what, you ask? OLIVE OIL. Signor’ Martini actually drinks it—in addition to what he typically drizzles over every meal, every day of his life. In ancient Greece, Homer called it liquid gold because of the countless benefits: heart, skin, medicines, rituals and much more. You name it. And that doesn’t even count the spiritual boost that comes from harvesting the olives by hand. It’s truly a meditation. Somehow, the gift of longevity is linked to the magic and mystery of the albero olivo, olive tree as far back as double digit centuries. Evidence like that is hard to ignore or deny. (more…)

We like to play a little game called Follow That Thread. It’s really simple and great fun because we never quite know where things are going. It’s also good exercise for slowing down, paying attention and trusting the process. It leads to the most curious things, but to make it work, judgment has to be suspended—accepting whatever shows-up. It feels like wandering through back streets and alleys to discover new places and things.

Here’s an example of a thread I followed a couple of weeks ago. (more…)