Cleaning house…

"The Revenge of Pride," photography by Dolores Juhas (2010). Copyright (c) Dolores Juhas. All Rights Reserved.

Today the universe reminded me of this:  you know that you are right with your world, when you are smiling more than you are frowning… when you are feeling happy more than sad… when you are lighter in your step more than feeling weighed down by your body… and when you choose to surround yourself with only those people who bring greater meaning to your life more than those who bring devastating chaos…

I am cleaning house today, emotionally and physically.

I hope you are too…

Until next time!



Self-potrait, photography by Dolores Juhas

Photographs are by Croatian photographer, Dolores Juhas, whose work has been featured in such magazines as Italian Vogue.  You can visit her website at or email her:  She has her own blog at

Vision Boards, Love Games & Mechanics….

Knitting gloves, photography by Diedré M. Blake (2011)

Typically, I spend my time reading, knitting, doing crossword puzzles, watching old British comedies and cartoons.  You know, all that typically sexy stuff.  😉

Well, I have just completed reading Jackee Holder’s “Be your own best life coach” and decided to try one of her suggestions, i.e. making a vision board.

I will tell you that I’ve been making a valiant attempt at creating my vision board.  I say valiant, because my verbal Italian is not so great and trying to find the right types of magazines at the newsstands here in Rome feels like a mini-trip through hell for me.

This is partly due to the fact that all the magazines are apparently kept… sealed.  Yes, that’s right.  Here in Rome, you need to know what you want. And there really isn’t such a thing as customer service here…. So, don’t expect help.  If you get it, then give thanks to the universe. Of course, this is just my personal experience… You may have a different one if you visit.  So, keep an open mind.

(Photo Newsstand in Campo de' Fiori... They usually aren't smiling. Trust me.) Image taken from

There is no flipping through and perusing the interesting pictures and glancing at the articles here.  And honestly, my Italianish is so not helpful for saying “I need a magazine with diverse representations of people.  You know, women, men, children.  Perhaps even different ethnicities and races might be nice.”

I’ve been offered, however, everything else from cooking to needlework.  As much as I am a fan of all of that, it certainly wasn’t what I asked for.

At this point, some of you might be wondering what is a vision board. The easy answer is that it is a visual representation of the goals/dreams you have for your life.

More recently, vision boards have been associated with the principle of the Law of Attraction (Remember The Secret?), which basically emphasizes the point that what we choose to focus upon in our lives is what we in turn receive.  That is, if you focus on what is negative, then the more negative experiences come into your life, because you are attracting it to you.  The same is applied to the positive.  This definition is highly simplistic and I would recommend that you do your own research on the topic if you are interested in learning more.

Sample Vision Board, found at

Regardless of your belief in the Law of Attraction, cutting images out of newspapers/magazines and pasting them on posterboard or whatever sturdy paper available has been practiced by many artists, art educators, art therapists, life coaches and many an adolescent girl for some time now (of course children and adolescent boys too!)

As an art therapist, I see the process of creating art and the final product as inherently self-exploratory and therapeutic.  Thus, it is possible to gain a true understanding of what one desires in life by engaging in such a process as collaging.  Enough said.

So, back to my vision board.  Simply, it’s not happening.  Although I am surrounded by many cut images, and have carefully selected music playing in the background to promote my most creative self… it’s simply not on.  By now, you may be wondering why I am rambling on about this vision board thing… and why it is so important to me.

Well, as I mentioned above, I’ve been searching for magazines filled with lots of pictures with people.  In essence, I am looking for the images that would go in my Love/Relationships sectionThat’s right.  I seemed to have some block against this.  This brings me to my next topic.

Love games & mechanics…

Rome is a city of romance as evidenced by the people who make it a point to makeout next to me in the metro during the day.   I mean, really… I am the last person to have a problem with PDA.   Nor do I have a problem with people who wish to share their personal version of Lady Gaga‘s Love Games at night (again in the metro).  Hey, I really don’t mind seeing if someone is or isn’t wearing underwear as I make my way home to knit…. No problem! 😉

What all of this (including my vision board quest) is revealing to me is that perhaps I find romantic relationships somewhat threatening… (Yes, it can happen to a therapist too ;))  I have somehow managed to put up a wall/block in response to the emotion love and had not realized it until I tried to make my vision board.

Being single again has forced me to examine my past relationships. That is, what I did well and what I need to improve.  This process allowed me to recognize that I had one specific issue that was truly interpersonally and intrapersonally crippling for me.  Even though apparently, some friends were already quite aware… as one said to me a month or so ago,

“D., you’ve really got to work on your professional handicap.  It’s really a liability.”

And I wonder why no one ever to told me before that I was a blatant “love mechanic.”

That’s right.  I spent my time in my relationships trying to help resolve the issues of my significant other perhaps to my own detriment and definitely to the detriment of the relationship.

Even after my friend had made the above statement to me, I still had no idea what he was talking about.  It took reading Lisa Helmanis’ book “Master Dating” and coming across the term “love mechanic” for me to really get what he was trying to say…  That is, if I ever intend to have a romantic relationship of any kind again, I need to give up the behaviour of holding daily therapy sessions with my significant other AND gently suggest outside therapy.  😉

Well, it’s a new year and I’ve got my vision board project with an allotted love/relationship section.  So, who knows what will happen…

Until next time!



Just not that into… What?

"This is Rome..." photography by Diedré M. Blake (2011)

I am the least romantic person I know.

I write this with a slight smile on my face, because I know that there will be friends, former partners, and family members who will be vigorously nodding their heads in agreement.

To say that I am practical about relationship matters is an understatement… I am downright analytical.  I weigh the pros and cons of all situations.  I attempt to look at all sides objectively, and am usually successful.
Why am I writing about this today?  Well, after writing the last three posts, you know, about relationships… I began thinking about my take on different aspects of what it takes to build relationships…;)

I mentioned in the first post on men that I truly disliked the expression of being or not being “into” someone.  I am taking a look at this today and tomorrow…

I will admit two things: 1) I am writing my way into this piece… 2) I am listening to the movie “He’s Just Not That Into You” in the background.


Just not that into…

As much as I love the film “He’s Just Not That Into You,” I dislike the expression as I have mentioned repeatedly.  Yes, I am all for being straight-forward.  This expression, however, seems to take away from rather than give to the person who is on the receiving end.  In fact it is truly vague.

I could say I am into yoga. What does that really mean? It could mean that I like the meditation aspect of yoga.  It could mean that I am into hatha and not ashtanga yoga.  It could mean that I like to watch people do yoga, but am not inclined to do it myself.  It could mean that I am interested in learning yoga. It could mean that I once studied yoga.  It could mean I am Buddhist.  It could mean that I am attempting to live  a yogic lifestyle.

I could say I am not into clubbing. Again what does that really mean?  It could mean that I dislike going out late at night.  It could mean that I dislike loud music.  I could mean that I like to dance, but I dislike dancing in a room full of people.  It could mean I don’t know how to dance.  It could mean that I think going to places where there are clubs is dangerous.  It could mean that I feel I am too mature or too immature or too intellectual or too artistic to be associated with clubbing…

Get my point? Saying someone is or isn’t into something doesn’t actually say a whole lot.  Perhaps that’s the point–I don’t know.  Imagine, however, if someone said to you, “I’m sorry, but I’m just not that into you…”

Well, how would you feel?  What would you understand from this statement? Are you left with questions or answers?

Sure, there is one thing that is clear:  this person is not wanting a romantic involvement with you… Maybe

I wrote “maybe,” because of the use of the word “that,” which seems to hint at some already established interest.

More importantly, there is also an undercurrent to this statement, that is that… there is something missing or lacking in your qualities (physical or otherwise) that makes this person not into you…

But what if you could change? (I can see the wheels beginning to turn in some minds already…)

Okay, granted if someone said to you, “I’m sorry, but I’m not into you,” then this is more definitive.  Still, it leads to possible the questions:

“Well, what are you into?” or “Why?”

Until next time!



Men… As promised… (part 2 of 2)

"Zed," photography by Dolores Juhas. Copyright (c) Dolores Juhas. All Rights Reserved.

  • Finally, men over 35 are perhaps more ready (read here: financially, emotionally, psychologically, physically… hopefully) to not only seriously consider marriage, but to also follow through with putting a ring on your finger the actual wedding day…

I cannot credit “Ask a Guy” Eric Charles’ responses with providing me with all these lessons.  I also learned a great deal in talking with friends and clients.  I listened to what was going well in their relationships and what was not working as they would like.

I also took the time to read a free kindle book (well, it is no longer free, but reasonably priced) on titled Master Dating:  52 Brilliant Ideas by Lisa Helmanis.  This book gives a wonderfully practical and accessible approach to examining and changing your behavioural patterns in your relationships with men.

As I generally am a just-rip-the-bandaid-off sort of person, I appreciate the author’s directness and clean style of writing.  The book covers issues from self-esteem to dating older/younger men.   My favourite chapters (almost all…) are:

  • Where are you at?
  • Too much information
  • Love mechanic
  • Facing the facts
  • If you meet this man, run
  • Keeping the boyfriend box clear
  • Putting the past where it belongs
  • Why men love bitches
  • The big freeze
  • The phone stops ringing
  • Breaking up is hard to do
  • Getting over rejection
  • Ex alert
  • How to make anyone want you
  • Green-eyed monsters
  • Real confidence
  • Are we there yet

Yes, there are actually other chapters 😉

Keeping promises…

So, what have I learned?  First, writing about men is difficult for me and second, I enjoyed keeping this promise.

No really, what I have actually learned is that like women, men (generally speaking here) want to be in relationships with someone who is whole.  What I mean by that is that they want to be with women, who have health self-esteems, have full and happy lives, and who understand the balance and value of give and take AND space and togetherness in their relationships.

Eric Charles says that men enjoy the chase (I think this was one of the hunter-gatherer references…) So, allow men to DO things for you, rather than you doing things for them.  Allow them to WORK for the relationship… You know, in the past I think we called this courting.

He says, “…it’s very important to get fulfillment, entertainment and love from many different areas of your life, not just from one lone man.

Also, having a full and fulfilling life makes it much easier for you to extend only as much effort towards the relationship as he’s extending.

… whenever you put effort into a relationship with someone, you are investing in them.  Whenever they put effort in, they are investing in you. If you are waiting by the phone for him to call and to make time for you, then you’re probably the only one doing the investing.”

Lisa Helmanis says that women should give to men what is appropriate to the status of the relationship.  So, don’t start by giving to men every possible gift that you can, otherwise what can you do to top yourself?  Holding back giving the best parts of yourself at the beginning means that you have more of yourself to offer later…

She says, “Now think of yourself as an expensive wine, give your next man too much, too soon and you’ll make him drunk with excitement, a bit unsteady on his feet, and then eventually sick at the very sniff of you.  Dole out your loving nectar in well measured portions.  You need to give him the chance to savour every mouthful, and be excited about anticipating the next.”

Perhaps thinking about yourself as something to be consumed might not be your ideal metaphor… So, she also says this,

“Be aware that anything that comes too easy doesn’t seem valuable.”

Until next time!



Self-potrait, photography by Dolores Juhas

Photographs are by Croatian photographer, Dolores Juhas, whose work has been featured in such magazines as Italian Vogue.  You can visit her website at or email her:  She has her own blog at

Spending Time Strategically Avoiding… and Engaging Life…

ImageHmm… Well, I thought of starting this off with a big, fat lie about how I lost my computer/lost internet connection/forgot that wordpress existed/convinced myself that my blog was just a dream…

Eh, but why avoid the truth, which is so very simple? 😉  I was busy living…

Yeah, that’s right.  Living. Can you believe it?  It’s something I’ve been strategically avoiding for some time now.  Actually, being avoidant had been quite useful while going through that period of… well, how should I put it… difficulty and uncertainty. 😉

Truly, however, benefit can be found in focusing in on yourself, in order to heal and reinforce one’s emotional and psychological foundation.

Gratefully, I have achieved a sense of stability in my new environment.  That is, I am attending university, working, and making and spending time with friends.  Also, I’ve been learning the ins and outs of what it means to actually ‘live’ in Rome as opposed to the ‘extended visit’ experience I had before.

What is truly wonderful is now I am in a place of balance… and can return to doing the other things that I love, such as writing (blog, etc.) and playing guitar.  It’s a nice feeling…

I promised at the end of my last post that I would talk about men, a neverending source of dicussion here in Rome for women as women are for men.  Below is an excerpt from my essay “Why Rome…”, which basically sums up my observation of men in Rome.  Hope you enjoy it.

Connection isn’t Obligatory

There is a particular occupation of Italian males that I believe must be highly expected and duly ignored.  I call it the ‘Sexual Objectification Initiation Program.’  It is like a built-in computer program that is implanted at an early age in the brain of the average Italian male.  I will explain in further detail.  Just keep reading.

Rome is a city of attraction.   Attraction, sexuality, sensuality are a way of life here.  Above all, there is an exceptional appreciation of beauty that surpasses issues of race and ethnicity.  Really, I have been told, on more than one occasion, that Romans are not racist.   Romans merely suffer from an acute case of grand aestheticism.

No, no, really (my Italian friends assure me of this every time they see me), no matter what race you are, if you are perceived as beautiful, then Romans will accept you.  Not only that, but they will absolutely let you know about it.  (Now, think back to the above-mentioned ‘Program.’)

Roman males, in particular, try to be specific in their feedback and will let you know just where you fall on their personal attraction rating scale, even if they do not know you at all—let’s not worry, for now, about whether or not you have asked for this information.  For them, it is seemingly an automatic thought-to-mouth (or foot-in-mouth) experience of the ‘Program,’ which if I had to write its code in Standard English would be something like this:

  1. If Roman man, then notice all women.
  2. If woman perceived as young and attractive,
  3. Then stop mid-action, mid-conversation, mid-anything.
  4. Ignore intelligent thought.
  5. Revert to caveman-like utterances, of which the only intelligible words are ciao and bella.
  6. Ignore woman’s response.  Be persistent.
  7. Repeat process until life on earth ends,
  8. OR if wife and/or girlfriend present, break process by remaining silent (unless complete ass****).

Until next time… I promise that it will be much, much sooner.


(“Via dei Condotti,” Photography by Diedré M. Blake, 2011)

“How fast does a man run, when the Devil is after him?”

Under Pressure, photography by Dolores Juhas (

These words begin The Book of the Damned, one of the two books belonging to the collection The Secret Books of  Paradys 1 & 2 by Tanith Lee.  Whether I knew it or not, for the last few weeks, I have been attempting to answer the question by living it. 

From the moment I stepped foot on American soil at the end February, I began running from one place to the next, one meeting to the next, one person, one action, one word, one thought to the next, to the next, to the next, to the next… through illness, through injury, through fatigue… Fast.  Toward what end?


4.14.11. Less than two weeks later, I find myself in conversations with women on airplanes and in buildings, discussing the passage of time, which somehow always seems inevitably wrapped up in variations on the theme of love, whether absent or present in one’s life.  From these conversations, I have come to realize that I am a person who is content with who I am and where I am in each moment for the most part, regardless of comfort or discomfort.  Life is life, and from it I learn and I evolve.


Jet Lag, photography by Diedré M. Blake (4.14.11)

I realize that for some the dynamic nature of love creates an intolerable fragility, internally and/or externally.  In turn, this fragility can breed a need for control of others, and a hostility towards the multiple constructs of romantic relationships and a simultaneous contempt towards chosen solitude.

It is my belief, however, that love is there if one chooses to give it and thus to experience it… regardless of relationship status.  I love and am loved.  It is simple, and I do not need to complicate it.

On the subject of love, however, I am no expert.  Rather, I am simply sharing some recent thoughts, or just think of this as a moment of the odd blog-rambling.

How fast does a man run, when the Devil is after him?

It depends… on how one sees the Devil and how prepared one is.   What is the Devil?  A reflection of one’s self?  A fear?  Moreover, is one prepared to deal with a confrontation with the Devil and with the inevitable aftermath?  Who knows…

I have stopped now as I have no need to run.  In stopping, I have come to realize that I saw the unknown and my doubt as my devils and so I tried to run away from them.  This “running” gave me some relief, because I thought I was doing  something.  And I was doing something in actuality… but that something was nothing good in the end for me, because I making myself more ill as I gave myself less and less rest.  I worked my mind and my already injured body hard… And again, toward what end?

The point is this – What need have I to run from devils of my own creation?  Why should I not see all the parts of myself, of my thinking and embrace them, so as to understand them, and thus to understand myself better?

Jet Lag II, photography by Diedré M. Blake (4.14.11)

Thus, here I am.  Rome.  Still… Toward what end?

Toward the within, of course…


Rome – Haiku (Spring)

sun, wind live moment

by moment in Rome, spring – Life

comes with ease like breath

-db (4.14.11)

Let’s paint the town… ;) Nightlife – Roman style!

Crossing Ponte Sisto to Trastevere, 2.20.11

So, I have not posted anything in the last couple of days… and there is a very good reason for this – I have been learning a great deal about Roman nightlife!  And given that I have been complaining about my feeling very old… understandably, I have been sleeping in-between and after the nightlife experiences (and you know by now how much this is necessary)!  Thus, this posting for Friday, truly covers Saturday and Sunday as well. 

Thanks to Isobel, both Friday and Saturday nights found me out and about amongst the young and not-so-young, plus the most ethnically diverse crowds of Rome (particularly on Saturday night).

Trastevere, 2.15.11

Trastevere.  Everyday I take a walk through the area known as Trastevere.  It is a grungy, grimy place, filled with streets covered in dog feces accompanied by the random not-so-homeless dogs, garbage, homeless, plus the ever-present tourists.  I love taking pictures of the dying and living plants and flowers there. 

In a way, Trastevere captures well what Rome is like to me, i.e. once you remove the rose-coloured glasses… Then, the impressiveness of the ancient buildings, the lure of the many tourist traps, and the awe you once felt simply fall away, and Rome becomes real.  Initially, it may be difficult to find the beauty in the reality of what Rome is, especially once the glamour is gone.  I promise you, however, that it is in its authenticity that Rome is at its most poignant and magnificent.


I am fortunate to have a guide and friend such as Isobel, who has lived in Rome for the last 8 years.  She has been able to show me the places, where Romans go to enjoy themselves amidst but apart from the many tourist-geared and tourist-filled establishments.  Friday night was no exception.  We found ourselves at Bir and Fud for dinner, a trendy and popular (with both locals and visitors) establishment due to its Neopolitan-style pizzas and… you guessed it, beer!  I think Isobel described the beers there as quite rare and very good, and she is not alone in her opinion.  Now, I will say this… If you are not interested in drinking beer (ahem, like I was), you are quite out of luck at Bir and Fud!  It’s either beer or water, buddy!  And I’ll tell you this too, whole families were there, and I am not quite sure how their children were managing, but… I, for one, stuck with the natural water (and it was quite tasty too)!

We followed dinner with a pleasant stroll through the well-cobbled streets of Trastevere.  (Ladies, here is where I will advise you to please… rest your feet for several hours before you go out in heels late at night in Rome – The gaps in-between the cobblestones are vicious, and will take out an ankle or two!)  Along our walk we happened upon a bookstore… Now, I will tell you that this is the most unique bookstore in which I have ever been.  Why?  Well, because this bookstore was selling chocolate shots.  That’s right!  Little shotglass-shaped chocolates, in which could and would be poured whatever alcohol your partying heart desired!  Of course, it wouldn’t surprise you that by the end of the night (my night, that is) the line for this bookstore was out the door! (And no, I will not tell you the name of the bookstore!  You can look it up yourself. ;))

Excellent car, Trastevere, 2.15.11 (Nice enough to lean on too!)

I wish that there was more that I could say about the nightlife experience of Trastevere.  There really isn’t, however.  There are many bars, including the famous Bar San Callisto, where young (and of course, not-so-young) people hang outside, drink very cheap beer and other beverages, and lean against other people’s rather small vintage cars.  Outside of this, well… No, that’s it.  There isn’t any “outside of this.”  People walk the streets and hang outside of bars, drinking and smoking.  The crowd is somewhat alternative (whatever that means these days) with a mix of folks reliving the 80’s and 90’s, plus the typical middle-aged Italian men thinking that they are still in their 20s.  All in all, it makes for fun people-watching, if you enjoy this sport as much as I do.  After all, there is nothing quite as a fun as seeing a teenage 80s version of Axl Rose look-alike (hair, hip movement and all) hanging outside of a bar wearing multicoloured spandex tights and a bandana on a cold night.  So, “Welcome to the Jungle” and while you are here on a Friday night… you might as well make it Trastevere.


Testaccio.  After recovering from a night in Trastevere, Isobel recommended that we spend some time in her neighbourhood, the #1 Club District also known as Testaccio.  I have to say that I love this neighbourhood… and I have only been here a couple of times.  Each time, however, the vibe here has been one of tranquility and diversity.  The people of Testaccio are all basically moving along with their day, but seem to care enough to stop to ask about each other’s lives.  Even on a weekend night, Testaccio did not lose its tranquil vibe!  Rather, the police actually come into the neighbourhood and shut down the main street, only allowing residents and taxis to travel in – This, I believe, has helped the neighbourhood maintain its relative calm, and as a woman, I felt safe walking there at night.

We began Saturday night at the Caffe Emporio, a restaurant/bar with an ultra modern, chic and urban design.  This was obviously the place to see and to be seen… And boy, did I see!  There was a wide age range, as is typical with many of the Roman establishments in which I have had the opportunity to spend time, and the music played catered well to this.  There was everything, from the early 80s to contemporary electronica.  And of course… not to be outdone by the Trastevere bookstore I suppose, they offered free samples of rum and chocolate (Isobel explained to me that it was some kind of a promotion… so, you had better hurry if you like rum and chocolate – Not that I am endorsing this behaviour.  I dislike both rum and dark chocolate – Yes, I know I am from the Caribbean… Sheesh!)

The only thing missing at Caffe Emporio was a dance floor (Isobel did tell me that they did have a smoking room… and I can see how that might be necessary in Rome).  We found ourselves a dance floor later on in the night (and I mean much later…  Yes, I am old, or feel old… or something – Checking the clock, it was only 11:30pm). 

Now the thing about Testaccio is this: there are many clubs!  And they are all lined up next to each other (I will add: next to the ancient garbage dump – See above article about the neighbourhood.)  There are free clubs and pay clubs.  From what I could tell, nothing was happening and no one happen to be in the free clubs.  So, Isobel and I made our way to a pay club.  Please, don’t ask me the name, because I cannot remember.  All I know is that I could hear Latin music from outside, and that was good enough for me as it suggested that there might be a hint of diversity/integration in Rome!  And surprise, surprise….

If you had asked me earlier in the day if interracial couples exist in Rome, I would have answered, “Not that I’ve seen.”  At this club on this Saturday night, however, it seemed that whatever racial/ethnic barriers that typically exit during the day in Roman society were momentarily lifted and people were free to mingle amongst each other and to express interest in each other.  The shades of brown were many.  Immediately recognizable for me were the Bangladeshi and Africans, but I am sure that there were a host of other people, who like myself, were from other countries.  And of course, our Italian hosts were out in full force. 

Isobel and I spent the night dancing (I, mostly by myself – I am simply a dancing queen… Seriously, you can’t touch this!) to bachata, merengue, and salsa.  It was brilliant, fun, exciting, and a good 10 Euro spent, in order to dispel some of my notions about the issue of racial segregation here in Rome.  So, go to Testaccio, especially, if you are young and have lots of energy… I am still recovering, and so I am going back to bed!  After all, painting the town… is quite a lot of work. 😉

Silence is golden…and a night of passion.

Night sky (View out of my kitchen window), 2.17.11

It’s late… very, very, very late.  Tonight, however, I have been transported back in time to any one of the many college dormitories, I had the pleasure of residing in during my undergraduate years… I don’t know what your college experience was like, but mine involved a lot of screaming adolescents and young adults at all hours of the night… and day too! 

Fast forward to tonight, to me… sitting here in my little studio in the beautiful city of Rome… and to my neighbours, both the Italian locals and the American college students, screaming at the top of their lungs and slamming their doors.  Why?  I don’t know.  Moreover, I don’t care.  What I do care about is the time… It’s after midnight.  It’s actually 1:30 in the morning…

Listening to the carryings-on my neighbours (and from the little bits that I am understanding, I think there is a break-up in progress) and feeling my level of agitation growing (because of how late it is and that they are choosing to go through all of this at this time), I am struck with a thought – I am getting old.

My shadow (Trastevere, 2.14.11)

You may say, “Yes, D, everyone grows older with each passing moment,” and I would agree whole-heartedly with that statement.  What I am talking about is not a chronological shift, because that is happening no matter what (even though time is a man-made construct… but I will talk about that another time)!  I am more focusing on an emotional/psychological shift –  I realize that I have lost some of my joie de vivre … or perhaps never really gained a true foothold in experiencing it. 

Thus, the passionate exchanges of younger people (whether this argument here in my building, or the carousing late at night of the young people and the young-minded people from Trastevere to Campo dei Fiori) have begun to feel like an inconvenience rather than something to celebrate and appreciate.   I know there are some of you, who may think, “But D, you’re right!  This behaviour is highly inappropriate!”  And yes, on some level it is, especially for the not-so-young people.  On the other hand, this is the process of youth, i.e. to experience and learn the intricacies of love, disappointment, excess, and emotional disaster. 🙂  Also, this is an experience and an expression of passion... Something, it seems, that I have grown rather tired of hearing… Well, at least when it is 1:30 in the morning.  Still, I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to explain in the morning to my young American female neighbours that there is great wisdom (on sooo many levels in the case!) in the old adage “Silence is golden.”



Over the last few years of my life, especially the last several months, I have been accused of being a dispassionate person – And rightfully so!  I have worked hard to get to this place of objectivity and emotional control (for the most part 😉).  As a therapist, it has helped me in my work to see beyond my own “stuff” (as one of my favourite fellow therapists would put it), and focus in on my client.  In my personal life, it has also helped me to see beyond the “stuff” of the moment, and focus on what needed to be resolved.  In all of this focusing and control, however, I realize that I lost a vital part of myself, i.e. the part that feels things deeply, the passionate side of me.

Artist studio, Eughen (Trastevere) 2.15.11

There are many sides to who I am as a person.  Beyond the therapist, and now blog writer, I am also an artist, a poet, a singer/songwriter, a musician, a crafter and a designer.  I also dance and act, and I have a wide array of other interests, to which I continually add.  These abilities have all been a part of me from a very young age, and I cannot imagine myself without them.  There was, however, a short period of time not very long ago when I was not able to use my hands well due to my fibromyalgia symptoms – This experience was emotionally and psychologically devastating, but it set in motion a series of internal and external experiences that brought me to this moment in my life, i.e. sitting in Rome writing this blog.  For it was in experiencing the fear of losing my ability to create that forced me to confront myself.  I had to look at who I was becoming and what I was doing to myself.

And what I was doing was trying not to live.  Now, I don’t mean in the sense that I was trying to die.  I mean that I was trying a sort of “nobody moves, nobody gets hurt” kind of policy, trying to keep still in my own life, in order not to cause trouble for anyone, myself included.  What I realized, however, was that no matter how still I stood, the people around me would still experience hurt (this was out of my control).  Furthermore, in standing still, I was only causing hurt to myself, because I was not living. (I recognize how cryptic some of this may sound as you read it, but to be more explicit about my meaning would be unbeneficial.) 

Flowers found on Via di Ripetta, 2.18.11

Life is meant to be beneficial.  Why we are here is not for the purpose of being dragged down into the gutter, in order to be made to feel unworthy of life.  Why we are here is not for the purpose of being made to stand still, in order for others (and ourselves) to feel safe because they know where we are.  Why we are here is not for the purpose of being elevated so high that we have no concept of the ground below us, in order for others to have someone to feel proud of and/or to knock down.  We are here to experience, to feel, to learn, to meet, to grow… to feel passion.

Store-front (Campo dei Fiori) near Via Arenula, 2.14.11

             In coming to Rome, I have made many realizations… and perhaps this is why I love this city so very much.  Rome is not a quiet place. 

Rome is “grungy” (Isobel agrees with me on this) and raw.  Rome is sex, food, art, and wine.  Rome is male and female in their purest forms… and all protesting about something!  Rome is laughter, shouting, crying, and cold staring.  Rome celebrates the process of life into death… and back again, plus the “stuff” in-between.  Rome is constantly teaching its residents… its visitors… and me that both within and without… therein lies one’s passion, joie de vivre, and raison d’etre. (My apologies for all the French terms… I know I am in Italy.) 🙂

And so I am off!  It’s sunny out today… and who knows what the city has in store for me. 😉

Woman at demonstration (Piazza Navona), 2.18.11


Charlie Chaplin (Piazza Navona) 2.18.11

What if I told you… a Secret?

What if I told you that on Thursday, October 14, 2010 as I sat on an airplane travelling back to the U.S. from my very first trip to Rome, I wrote the following words,

“I want to return to Rome and stay for 6 months 1month very soon.”

At the time I had no idea as to how I would do this.  I had no money, no time, and no seeming way that I could make this manifest.  I just knew that I wanted to do it.  I knew I had to do it.  I believed that I could and I would do it, even if I didn’t know how.  From the moment of writing those words, a series of many things happened, both experienced as good and bad.  All moved me towards achieving the above goal. 

What if I told you that by October 27, 2010 I had bought my ticket to return to Rome for less than $500?  What if I told you that along with the above words, I had also written,

“I want to live alone while I am there.”

and that by November 11, 2010 I had met the man, from whom I would eventually rent my studio at an affordable price.


The Power of Belief and Self-efficacy

The self-fulfilling prophecy is a fairly popular concept in today’s society, but it can be traced back throughout the ages. 

The idea is a simple one: what we truly believe, we will manifest into reality.  Typically, the self-fulfilling prophecy has a somewhat negative connotation as it may be used in association with “bad” events.  For example, if a man continuously worries that his wife will leave him, and then eventually  she will.  The self-fulfilling prophecy, however, is a simply strategy of thought manifested into reality.  The manifestation, however, can occur in three ways: positive, neutral, or negative. 

A positive manifestation is simple enough.  It is when we desire something positive to occur in our lives and we truly believe that it will, and thus it does.  The negative manifestation is, of course, the opposite of the positive.  A neutral manifestation (and this is my own term) is when we want something to occur in our lives, typically positive, but we do not fully believe that it will – We end up with perhaps a type of “mixed” result, a neutralized experience. 

For example, you may have just been interviewed for a new job and believe you will be hired because you see yourself as the best candidate.  At some point, however, perhaps due to delay in response from the company, you begin to doubt yourself as being the best candidate… you still believe that you are a very good candidate and that there is no reason why the company shouldn’t hire you, but now you are not sure.  So, you get the call.  You are hired!  Yes!  There is a problem, however.   You are offered a lowered salary or a different position altogether, because the company believes you are not as qualified for the position as they would like for you to be.  Do you see?  The situation has been neutralized.  You are happy for the job offer, but unhappy because the result is not exactly the way you had hoped for it to be… It is exactly what you believed it to be – That is, perhaps you were not the best candidate, merely a good one – Why would a company pay top dollar to good candidate or give that person the position when they can hire the best?   

In psychology, we have been quite happy to latch on to the self-fulfilling prophecy to help people to change their thoughts and their behaviours, and thus ultimately their lives.  Regardless of the branch of psychology, in my opinion, the ultimate goal is to have people have better opinions about themselves and a more positive outlook on their lives, in order to live their lives more effectively and successfully.  As a practitioner of DBT, I am constantly asking clients (and myself) to keep themselves open to new ways of interpreting the experiences they have in the world.  Why?  Well, like I said in my post on Saturday (2.12.11), it is our thoughts that dictate our emotions, and our emotions that dictate our actions, and our actions result in direct and indirect consequences (some of which we may not like).  Thus, it is in controlling our thoughts that we have the power to control ourselves, and the impact of the world around us on ourselves, holistically.

What we think, i.e. our thoughts, is one aspect of the self-fulfilling prophecy.  It is, however, not enough.  Thinking something once does not make or break you (and thank goodness for that!  Or else, I would be in serious trouble!) – It is the pervasiveness of our thoughts, i.e. how much we believe in our thoughts.  How often are we thinking these thoughts?  Are they there in the back of our minds as we go throughout the day?  Are they the first of our day, or last thoughts before we go to bed?  Are they the instant thoughts we have in reaction to anything “bad” or “good” happening to us?  This is what I mean by pervasiveness… by belief.  How much do you believe in your thoughts?

There are many of us who would like to say, “Oh, I might think some negative things about myself, but I don’t believe them.”  Really?  Then, why do you say them to yourself?  Ask yourself. 

The truth is that we can see ourselves as quite capable individuals in many areas of our lives, and are able to say to ourselves, “Bravo, you rock!  You’re awesome!” (These are some of my cheering statements – Feel free to borrow.)  There are, however, other areas, where we may not believe ourselves to be as capable and may say things like this ourselves, “I can’t believe I am so dumb!  Why do always crazy crap like that?  Nobody else would have been so stupid!  I’ll never get things right!  I am such a mess up!” (These aren’t my self-doubting statements, but you get the point – Remember, D says, “Don’t use these! Bad for you!”)

I intentionally listed more self-demeaning/self-doubting statements.  Why?  Because, we tend to verbally beat ourselves up more!  That’s why!  Come on, think about it!  For how long do you keep yourself in a state of misery after something not so great happens?  For example, let’s say your boss, or teacher, or parent told you that you did something wrong, and they were angry with you…  I know this must have happened to you at some point in your life (and if it hasn’t happened, then bully for you, and just try to imagine it).  For how much longer after that conversation, were you upset with yourself, with them, with the situation?  Think about it.  No, really, try.  Perhaps, if you are trying really hard right now and remembering a very specific situation, you might even be experiencing the very emotions associated with the situation.  You might even feel a pang of anger, of embarrassment, and/or of fear.  And as I told you before… our feelings are a manifestation of our thoughts.  So, what are/were you thinking?

We are who/what/how we believe ourselves to be – Remember that I did not say “imagine ourselves to be.”  If you believe yourself to be “an incompetent fool” underneath your projected image of competence, then what you are is an incompetent fool.  Moreover, what people see is that you are an incompetent fool pretending to be competent.  (And if you don’t believe me, see the history of, thankfully, former American President George W. Bush.)  Think about that.


I decided to give self-efficacy its own subheading, in order to give this rather lengthy post a bit more structure.  

 I am truly a fan of the concept of self-efficacy.  It incorporates so many of the principles that I consider truly important in creating a meaningful and rewarding life.   To develop a sense of one’s self-efficacy is to begin understanding and, yes, believing in one’s capacity to create and accomplish one’s goals and other tasks in life.  These goals are not merely intrapersonal (relating solely to the self), but also interpersonal (relating to others).  It is sort of that idea that no matter what challenges life presents, you have the ability to tackle it! 

To go into the complete ideology of self-efficacy would be time-consuming and perhaps (somewhat) boring.  Thus, I will not.  I will encourage you, however, to look into it.  Also, think about how self-efficacious you are in this moment.  How do you see your ability to take on whatever life throws at you?  Remember, self-efficacy is not about “going it alone.”  It is about understanding your strengths, understanding where you may need help in order to achieve your goals.  It’s about using your smarts/intelligence/wits (however you want to put it) to get you where you want to go, but knowing/believing that your smarts/intelligence/wits will get you there no matter what!  You dig? 😉

A secret… The Secret

I suggested that I would tell you a secret…  And I shall. 

There are very few pop psychology book/self-help books that I really recommend that people read, or that I even read myself.  After all, most of my time is spent reading… well, psychology articles or books that are more strictly pertaining to my professional interests and background, which takes up a lot of time (as you can see… people in psychology like to write and talk… a lot ;)) – Thus, it’s nothing personal, and definitely not an issue of snobbery on my part.

As such… here is my secret:  I have been reading The Secret” by Rhonda Byrne from page to page.  Now…  I will tell you that when my mother bought this book for me back two Christmas’ ago, I was a bit nonplussed.  After all, I am a capable and competent (read “self-efficacious” here) therapist, what do I need with this pop psychology book?…Okay, maybe there was a bit of snobbery. 

I will tell you three things about The Secret: 

1. It is about self-fulfilling prophecy aka the power of belief  with an emphasis on the power of positive thinking (See, Positive Psychology). 

2. It is about believing in/developing a sense of your own self-efficacy (see discussion above). 

3. It is small enough to put in a small bag.

Mind you, I am not endorsing The Secret or any particular thing on my blog.  If, however, you decide to run to your local library, get a copy, read it and like it, then… the only other pop psychology book I have ever bought (besides ones about eating disorders, which is my specialization… so I ought to know what’s out there) is Bryn Collins’ Emotional Unavailability : Recognizing It, Understanding It, and Avoiding Its Trap.  

Let’s just say, if you have ever been in a bad relationship, or if you are in one right now… or perhaps you are always in bad relationships… and you can never understand why… Well, Emotional Unavailability might help give you some perspective.  It’s a slight introduction to some basic DBT concepts on interpersonal effectiveness). 


Some thoughts on being a secret-keeper/privacy-holder:

As a therapist, it is my job to be a secret-keeper/privacy-holder for secrets/private thoughts that are non self-harming to my clients.  It is an important role and one that ought never to be violated.  I feel very honoured to be and to have been entrusted with the thoughts of so many who have come to me for help throughout the years.  There are truly not enough words to express my gratitude and humility.  

The title of this post, “What if I told you… a Secret?” though meant with some humour is actually a commentary on the fact that we may not often share with others what knowledge it is that we may have amassed over the years that has been truly beneficial to us in living our lives.  My secret is that I live my therapeutic practices every day of my life – I practice what I preach.  And it is truly my hope that in sharing these thoughts with you that you will benefit in some small way in your own life.

Best regards,


For the purpose of full disclosure: I am a registered Independent.

Hunting for Valentine’s Day! Plus, a woman eating alone = Feminista!

I will admit it.  I forgot. 

Upon waking this Monday morning, I had only two thoughts: one, call April and wish her a happy birthday; and two, finish my blog entry for yesterday.  I completely forgot that today happens to be Valentine’s Day.  As I mentioned in my very first post, I am usually late… and apparently, not just with time.

So, it was that I received excellent electronic reminders that today was indeed the day to run out and get your beloved all sorts of treats and flowers galore! And I thought, “Wonderful!  I am in this city that is supposedly filled with romance.  I am bound to find red and pink heart-shaped decorations, chocolate fountains, and dozens of roses just littering shop windows and even the streets!”

I actually threw on a pair of jeans and sneakers (and for those of you who have been around me more recently, the fact that I am not wearing heels is perhaps amazing), and ran out the door, ready to be greeted by amore and strains of “‘O Sole Mio.”

It's still a regular day on Via Arenula (2.14.11)

What I got, however, was this (image on the right).

Life in Rome was simply going along as though the day had no particular significance.  I couldn’t believe it!

I decided that I must be in the wrong section of town, and walked back over towards Campo dei Fiori, where I was certain I would find evidence of Valentine’s Day! Or, at the very least, some tourists showing excessive amounts of PDA.

Heart-shaped cakes in store window (Campo dei Fiori)


Campo dei Fiori did not disappoint me!  Although sadly, in comparison with the commercialization of Valentine’s Day (V-Day) in the U.S., the V-Day efforts of Campo dei Fiori seemed quite mediocre, if that. 

I was pleased to see the evidence of V-Day celebration being displayed by some of the vendors in the marketplace and also by some of the stores (well, one store).  

Woman with heart-shaped headband (Campo dei Fiori), 2.14.11

One woman, in particular, was really in the V-Day mood as she made her way throughout the marketplace.  Another woman was selling flowers (or hoping to) with a beautiful array of roses amongst other equally attractive flowers.  A male vendor sold carnivale masques and some V-Day theme items. (Although I am still not sure what they were… I just saw the sign.)  All in all, Campo dei Fiori had a pretty good and promising vibe for V-Day, especially as the weather was bright, fairly warm and sunny.

Woman flower vendor (Campo dei Fiori), 2.14.11

The experience at Campo dei Fiori left me feeling very hopeful. Thus, I made a mad dash towards Largo di Torre Argentina, camera in hand and at the ready to snap pictures of V-Day in the making.

I love Birkenstock sign (Rome, Italy), 2.14.11

Well… to cut a very short story even shorter.  There was nada, or niente (for the sake of adding an Italian flare).  I did, however, discover that there were expressions of love for other things… like Birkenstocks (I think Germany will be happy to know this on V-Day.)

Couple walking (Rome, Italy), 2.14.11

Oh!  And I almost forgot!  There was also the random couple that actually showed some potential acknowledgement of V-Day… 

Side note: Yesterday, Giuseppe told me that “love is the most important aspect of [Roman] life.  After all, Roma spelled backwards is ‘Amor,’ which means love.”  Really?  You could have fooled me.






I eat alone.  Therefore, I am a feminist!

After my long and emotionally taxing (Yes, it is quite emotionally draining to search for love – You and I both know it’s true!) morning spent walking around the apparently anti-Valentine’s Day city of Rome, I decided to head back to my neighbourhood of Campo dei Fiori for lunch.  Recently (as in, last night), I discovered a wonderfully inexpensive, but quite good, bar/cafe very close to my home.  It was to this cafe that brought my tired self to enjoy a little V-Day lunch before heading home.

I had been thinking much about yesterday’s demonstration by the women of Rome, and wanted to find a way to talk with some Italian women about their experience of gender roles in Rome.  Luckily, the night before I had met a young woman named Janet, who works at the cafe.  She also happened to be working today.  I decided to ask Janet if I could make a time to speak with her about her experiences. 

At the conclusion of our very brief conversation to exchange contact information, one of the male servers asked Janet a simple question in Italian.  Unfortunately for him, he assumed that because I spoke in English that I could not understand Italian. 

He asked: “Lei è femminista?” (Is she a feminist?)

I answered him, “Sì. Io sono femminista. Perché?” (Yes. I am a feminist. Why?)

In English, he responded, “Because only a feminist would eat alone.”

And so there you have it… If you do not want to be seen as a feminist in Rome (per this Italian man), best not eat alone.  As for me, eating alone is equally as comfortable and appreciated as eating in the company of others. 

I wonder what he would think if he knew that my grand plan for this evening is to watch the movie “Gladiator” and to write?


In Rome on Valentine’s Day

Love I will not write

The cold of my heart like snow

Words of my mind – death