“I choose to be happy”

Many thanks to my friend Joanne for posting this five-minute TED video on Facebook:  Without her recommendation, I probably wouldn’t have watched it…I mean, I wouldn’t normally be very interested in a man talking about how he survived a plane ditching in the Hudson River (New York City)…

But it’s much more than that, as you will see if you click on the below link. And now I’m really glad I watched it: http://goo.gl/kvSf2L

I imagine lots of people before me have compared a plane accident to a cancer diagnosis. It’s an obvious comparison, methinks. And in fact, while I was listening to Ric’s story, I couldn’t help thinking about my own cancer diagnosis and how it changed my life…in a positive manner, in many ways.

When something major (cancer diagnosis, surviving a plane accident, whatever…) happens to you, the things that you thought were so important, such as your career, suddenly don’t matter so much anymore…As Ric says, “it all changes in an instant.”

And that is why I really liked this comment: “I no longer try to be right. I choose to be happy.”

It’s not possible to be happy all the time or have a perfect life, of course, but it is possible to make some changes…and rearrange your priorities.

I have.

(Or at least, I think I have!)

Meeting with Prof. Morie Gertz, Mayo Clinic…this Saturday!

I met Prof. Gertz in March 2012 at a patient-doctor meeting organized by my friend Vittorio’s charitable association, which he set up in memory of his uncle who was a myeloma patient. If this doesn’t ring a bell, just do a search of my website to find the posts I wrote about this encounter.

Well, Prof. Gertz is returning to Florence. To meet with us. This Saturday, Jan 18, in fact. So if you happen to be in the area (Tuscany!), I really hope you will consider attending.

I have the program of the meeting (where it is taking place, when it begins, info about lunch, etc…It’s all FREE, by the way), so if you are interested in attending, please let me know, via a comment or contact form or email, and I will forward it to you.

As happened last time, I will help Vittorio translate part of the meeting. I have to admit, I’m still suffering from a bit of jet lag (and cats walking over my body or hugging my head and purring madly in my ear at 2 and 4 a.m. certainly doesn’t help!!!), so I hope I won’t make any mistakes…zzzzz…!

Please note: if you want to stay for lunch, you will have to let Vittorio know ASAP. Just quickly: the meeting will take place at the same hotel where we met last time, Hotel 500 in Campi Bisenzio, just outside of Florence. It’s an all-day event, but you can leave before lunch if you must. My advice would be to stay, though…

Okay, I’d better post this…Saturday is fast approaching! Hope to see you there! 🙂

Like Tom Hanks in “The Terminal”

Remember that movie, “The Terminal”? In a nutshell, it’s about a man (Tom Hanks) who gets trapped in New York’s JFK International Airport after being denied entry to the U.S.

I don’t mean to imply that Stefano and I are trapped in an airport somewhere. Nope. On the contrary, we are safely back in Florence, at home with our beloved kitties. So, apart from a major, beastly case of jet lag (we are having so much difficulty sleepingzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…), we are absolutely fine…zzzzz.

Now that I’ve cleared that up, I can go ahead and tell you what happened just a few days ago… 😉

Late Saturday evening, as we were checking in at Logan Airport in Boston, I realized I’d forgotten my Italian “permanent resident” visa at my parents’ house on Cape Cod…

Oh no!!! Now what?!!! Without that precious document, I doubted I’d be allowed to leave Germany (the first leg of our journey). But Stefano said, “it’s too late to freak out now. There’s nothing we can do about it. Let’s get on the plane and see what happens when we land in Germany.” “But,” I squeaked, “won’t I be deported or, worse, kept forever in the airport, just like Tom Hanks?” “No, of course not,” he said, in a reassuring tone, “and don’t worry, I’m with you…”

And so, after my first “TOTAL PANIC, FREAK OUT!!!” nano-moment, I calmed down and, for the first time ever!!!, was happy that we’d have a five-hour layover in Germany…That would give me plenty of time to explain what happened and deal with any ramifications…I stopped worrying (sort of) and managed to watch three movies on the plane…

We landed safely in Germany and proceeded to the airport security checkpoint. With a winning, bright smile on my face, I chirped “Good morning!” and handed my U.S. passport to the customs official. He smiled back at me, then noticed my surname, which happens to be German (= my “maiden” surname, that is). He asked if I spoke any German. I answered, “Ah, I really wish I did…but no, I don’t.” Then, faster than you can say “Tom Hanks,” he stamped my passport and waved us on.

Ehhhh???? That’s IT??? All that worrying for…NOTHING???

It would certainly seem so…

Sigh of relief.

We celebrated my “no muss no fuss” re-entry into Europe with a yummy organic carrot and orange juice…No kidding, an organic juice place in the airport…how civilized! 🙂

I now have a 3-month tourist visa. That gives my parents plenty of time to send me my permanent Italian visa, which they found safely tucked away in a drawer…you know, those blasted “safe” places where you put important stuff so you won’t lose it (!)…those places you forget to check when you’re busy with a million other pre-travel things/errands (!)…

Yeah, those places…uff!!!

Before my next trip, I’m going to have my visa tattooed on my forehead…

Back from Arizona

I cannot begin to tell you how wonderful our stay in Arizona was…overwhelming, wonderful, happy, beautiful, exciting, moving…extraordinary…

And I have fallen head over heels in love with saguaros = huge, tree-like cacti (or cactuses) that can be seen all around Phoenix, even in people’s yards…wow…I wish we could have one in our yard in Florence! 😉

I have heaps of wonderful (I hope!) photos, but I don’t have time to download and go through them now, so that will have to wait until Stefano and I get back to Italy.

Let’s see. Just briefly, Stefano, Mom, Dad and I returned to Cape Cod last night. What an adventure THAT was…I don’t have time to tell you about it now…but, just to give you an idea, on December 17 we left for Phoenix in the middle of that major winter storm that hit the East Coast (flights were delayed and canceled…a mess!), and only narrowly escaped returning from Phoenix to Boston in the middle of ANOTHER blizzard! Sheesh.

But the main thing is that we’re safely home now. This morning I got up at dawn and went outside to take photos of my parents’ house covered in snow. I also got some photos of a big, fat robin perched in a tree. And Stefano and I are about to set out for the beaches to see what we can find. My biggest hope is that we will also come across a snowy owl…apparently there are many here this year, and I’ve never seen one in the flesh…Will we get lucky and see one today? Mmmmh…

Okay, really must go now. A (belated!) very Happy New Year to everyone!!! 🙂