Monday, 30 July 2012

Big Day...

I submitted my application form for my Visa and I had my interview with the Italian Embassy today.  I  had all my documents in place and part of that was having booked my 1st nights accommodation in Rome.  I have been searching for "affordable" accommodation because I am on a budget, but I have found it quite overwhelming because I guess you don't really know what you getting into.  My first attempt was a bit dismal.  Thank goodness I found true reviews and images on the TripAdvisor.  I am so glad I stumbled across TripAdvisor.  A friend on Istagram advised it, so I downloaded the App for my iPad and iPhone but hadn't had a chance to use it properly yet.  Well I am using it now... so I did managed to find a sweet affordable place about 400m from the Vatican City with good enough reviews.  The most important thing about it if nothing else is that it's clean.  Now I just have to book my few days after Orvieto.  My Visa should take between 7 and 10 days to come through.  So I just have to wait now... I have some other things to get through the list for this week... :-)

Friday, 27 July 2012

My first Italy purchase...

My first little purchase for Italy... I haven't found any books on Orvieto alone but I am sure I will find one there.  But I found a perfect little pocket size book on Rome with pop up maps with clues and tips.  It has some vital information about cheap train/bus tickets and wise tour tickets to buy.  I like that idea very much.  It is rather exciting... This little book in now a permanent fixture in my bag and when I find I have a minute to spare, whilst standing in a queue somewhere or waiting for my girls - I will be pulling it out and pouring over it and planning my days in Rome.  Too exciting for words!!!

To fear or not to fear...

So the more I have shared with people that I am going to Italy alone on this adventure, quest, pilgramage.  It has been met with mixed feelings.  On the most part, people are delighted but some have thown fear at me about traveling alone... which I have to say derailed me a little this week.  I don't think fear is always as bad as everyone makes out.  I guess it's in the place of fear or rather facing our fears that we listen to what it's telling us or prompting us to do.  So my fear prompted me to start my researching Italy properly.  I have spent some afternoons, while waiting in the parking lot for extra murals to end, to start looking at the city of Rome.  To take the "scary" out of it.  I have been emailing and communicating with some friends on Instagram and family who have travelled there often and also made some connection with the ladies doing the course with me, who are also arriving early.  I have also been looking at maps, learning the metro and looking at some accommodation for my first night.  I thought maybe I shouldn't venture into Rome alone but just head straight into Orvieto early but if I do that then I am allowing the fear to control me but I trust, as I choose to be BRAVE that I will find something deeper there, maybe even something deeper inside of me.  After all, how can I get this close and allow fear to miss me seeing this...

Am I out of my comfort zones????  YES - completely.  But then again, shouldn't we all be in this place from time to time and see what is there for us to find.

Visa Application Day...

Wow - this is quite a bit of physical labour!!! But I am up for the task.  Silly me - I thought I would waltz into the consulate and pay for my visa, get my passport stamped and voila.  You can see I haven't travelled for a while... a long while.  There are procedures madam...  So I have a bit of a checklist and I am slowly working my way through it.  Good thing I phoned first. 

I have already accomplished some tasks today...

1.  Proof of employment, that I am in fact returning home ;-) [check]
2.  Proof of transport (copy of my ticket) [check]
3.  Proof of accommodation [requested]
4.  Proof of funds [Monday]
5.  Proof of Travel Insurance [check]
6.  Proof of residency - that I actually live in Cape Town. [check]
7.  Photo's x2 [check]

I have to book my 1st nights accommodation before I can do my online visa application form.  I have a few options of which I will narrow down this weekend.

I have my appointment early next week.


Friday, 20 July 2012

Abundant Grace....

From the moment I made the commitment to go to Italy to paint, the provision has come in.  I can't quite explain it, in the slightest.  Let me be clear... We don't have spare money for anything, let alone an overseas trip.  I knew doing this trip to Italy was risky and a pure chance because I had no idea where the funding was going to come from.  In fact, I was so serious about doing the trip that I was prepared to get into debt for it and spend the next 5 years paying it off.  Drastic measures, I know.  But I am happy to report, that I don't have to do that.  In the last month alone, I have managed to sell 6 of my paintings and have 5 new orders already.  Within one week, I have managed to sell my 2nd hand items that I advertised and that has paid for my airticket.  I also managed to pick up a new client and I started working there this week which is a huge part of my funding.  And like many of us trying to get to Italy - I am working my butt off.  But I love that in so many ways - nothing just falls in our laps... It's in the "working the fields that we reap the harvest".  To me, it's almost like spiritual universal law happening right in front of me.  Work wise and painting wise, I am busy!  Nevermind "life" in between.  It means I don't have a moment to spare or waste.  It has meant early rising to late night calls.  And stealing moments to rest in between.  But I can honestly say, I have never been happier and never felt so complete and so focused.  It feels pretty awesome right now.  Maybe it has something to do with living out ones DREAMS!  I am happy to report that Little Rue is being shipped to Austrailia.  My first export.  And my Clever Cali and Amelia are finally going home this week too.  Cali and Amelia were my first commissions of #thisismygirltoday series.  So it's been a mighty special week for me.  It feels good to be sending pieces home.  Completed work always feels good.  It's a real sense of accomplishment!  Deeply moved and deeply grateful is all I can say right now!!!!

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Could it be anymore exciting...

Look what arrived in the post today... yes my Travel Packet!  Thank you Kristi and Bill.  I got a tad bit emotional when I opened it and paged through the contents.  I can't believe in 10 weeks time, I am going to be walking through the streets of Rome and Orvieto.  I am not sure this day could get any better.  I just had the most incredible run, in the most incredible weather, with the most incredible views and with some pretty incredible laides and now I am heading into town to meet an old friend, who actually lives in Italy... like I said, seriously can this day get any better.  Too stoked for words.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Another big step today...

As Kristi says in the past week alone, we have been leaping over each new obstacle as they have come on the list of things to accomplish.  And today we took another big leap... some of my funding has come in so I could pay almost half of my course fees and I have to tell you, right now that's feeling pretty good.  I am happy to say by mid August, I will be able to pay the balance of my fees and then then technically, I only have a few things left on the list...  This is what it's currently looking like...

1.  Post office to collect my Travel Packet - got the notification today that it's ready for
     me.  Yippeeeeeee

2.  Credit Card for trip

3.  Cellphone Service Provider - find out about data coverage while in Italy, so I can
     Facetime or Skype my precious peeps while I am away.  Maybe even take them on
     some walks through the streets of Orvieto and Rome.

3.  Italian Visa

4.  2nd Payment for Course Fees

5.  Spending Money

Saturday, 14 July 2012

What a great letter...

I just dropped this note on Google Group...

On 7/13/2012 6:14 PM, Jeanne-Marie Webb wrote:
Hey guys - I booked my tickets today and I get my flight schedule tomorrow.  I think today more than any other day - its feeling more real.  I still have away to go on my obstacle's list but still trusting that it will all come together beautifully.  I also wanted to say that Misty, Renee and Jenny I have been following you on Instagram and Facebook and I operate under the name of "flowrsinherhair" - just so you know we are one in the same.  Looking forward to meeting you in person and meeting you, Kristi and Bill!
Have a splendid weekend.
Jeanne-Marie aka Flowrsinherhair

And I received this lovely note back this morning...

On 7/14/2012 2:21am, Bill Steiner wrote:

Flowersinherhair. Ok, there is simply no way that you can't not make it. Flowersinherhair. I love it. We will see you in Orvieto for sure. Abbracci a tutti! Bill

I didn't know what "Abbracci a Tutti" meant - so I Googled it and it means 'Hugs to you and yours"...  Thank you Bill!

Friday, 13 July 2012

A weighty day...

So in one week I have overcome two of my major obstacles... my passport and airticket.  Now that I have both in my hands, I am feeling oddly exhausted.  It feels like I have been holding my breath for weeks.  It feels weighty.  Huge.  I think right now it's feeling a bit bigger than me.  I am really going and now that I can say that out loud, it's overwhelming me a little.

Maybe I am feeling overwhelmed because although I have accommplished much the past few weeks and the most amazing things have happened, I still have a way to go.  And I know the 11 weeks ahead of me won't be without it's challenges and hard work.  My next obstacle is applying for my visa which I will probably do in the next week or two.  And then the biggest of all my obstacles is accummulating the balance of my funding.  It is going to be extremely tight.  It's feeling just a tad daunting today.  I am not waiving in my faith that sometimes it's in the stepping out and the risking that great things happen. By no means, am I taking this lightly, what I have asked from my family from a financial point of view and a time point of view and I think I am just feeling the weightiness of that today.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

I took a "hue"massive step today...

So today I decided it was my day to phone for flights to see what is available...  I was a little taken aback because all the usual airlines were fully booked around this time.  I felt panic set in.  I thought booking 3 months in advance would be sufficient.  I looked at flying direct to the UK and seeing if that was an option and it could have been except the cost was about $1000 over my flight budget.  Alison, a lovely British lady at the Travel Agency managed to find me a flight via France and then onto Rome.  It will be the 2nd time I have come so close to France but never actually making it in there.  I will arrive a few days early but that's great - it will give me 2 full days to catch my breath, tour a bit before my course starts.  I will also have a few days post trip to tour Rome for a few days before I head home.  The tickets were around $275 more than I expected... I am not sure why Autumn is so popular... I guess I am about to find out.  It would be unrealistic to not have a bit of a contingency in place.  So even thought its a bit over my flight budget, I have accepted my flight itinerary!!!

So on that note... I am heading to the kitchen to pour myself a half a glass of wine to celebrate... at the realisation that my 10 days in Italy, just became my reality!!!!!

Wednesday, 11 July 2012


So I got paid today for Sweet Willow and I am so excited because this is going straight to my Italy kity.  There are also a few things that I have been wanting to sell 2nd hand and today I got my butt into gear and placed my ads.  Trusting they will sell quickly.

Today I also started at a new client.  My committment to help pay for my trip and help contribute to my family's sacrifice for me doing something so extravagant.  This doesn't come without it's challenges.  With so much time out of the studio - means I will have to be seriously making and stealing time to paint and keep my supply and stock growing.  With my routine being a little better organised, I do believe I will be okay.

I am finding as I take steps towards Italy... Italy is taking steps towards me.

Monday, 9 July 2012

First obstacle overcome...

Today I got this awesome SMS message:-

Home Affairs: Passport for JM Webb is ready for collection at the office of application 2012/07/10

I am completely blown away.  This is my first real obstacle overcome.  I applied for my passport less than a week go.  Trusting this will set the pace for the rest of my obstacles that I still have to overcome.


Sunday, 8 July 2012

My #1 Fan...

The other day I came into my studio and Kitty had left a little handmade card for me and included in the card was R46.00 (around $6).  It was the profit she made from her Trading Day at school.  At the back of her card it read... "I hope your art leads you on the way to greatness!  I hope you go to Italy! This is to help! TAKE IT!"

The rest of her card reads as follows...

Dear Mommy,
A Woman....
A woman to me is a lady who is full of wisdom.
She would be inspiring, beautiful, motherly.
Someone who is full of OMPH!
She would be able to see their mistakes and fix them.
She wears clothes that are just right for her.
She is strong and she doesn't care what others think of her.
She is clothed with dignity and laughs without fear of the future.
She is loyal!
She has strength!
Mother dear, you are a Woman!
I think this has to be one of the single kindest things anyone has ever done for me.  I got rather emotional when I read her card but more so for her exceptionally generous gesture to me but that she just "gets it" or rather just "gets me".  And I guess the most incredible thing is that she is only 11 years old and is just so deeply connected.   Whether Italy happens for me or not... I will never forget her kindness.  I had a beautiful round container in my bedroom and her $6 was the first amount to go into my Italy "Kitty"... which she will always be remembered in my heart, that was something that she started!!!
This little girl holds my heart for sure...

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Google Group

So yesterday I was invited and joined the Google Group.  I felt rather nervous about joining, in case this isn't a done deal.  I tried to put that aside for just a minute and just embrace each stage.  Going or not.  It will be a wonderful journey...  I logged on tonight and found this beautiful introduction from Kristi.  If nothing else, I look forward to meeting this wonderful couple Kristi and Bill.  Their kindness has been astounding!

Hi friends,

One of the true pleasures we have here at Adventures in Italy is being a part of A BIG DREAM! It takes so much for many of us to manage the myriad of details and costs required to make a trip to Italy happen. We dearly appreciate every gesture you all are making to travel to Orvieto with us. We know without a doubt, Italy will NOT disappoint you.

We'd like you to meet just such a determined 'spirit'...Jeanne-Marie Webb from South Africa. Jeanne-Marie and her family are moving heaven and earth to make sure she gets to join Misty and all of you this fall. She is soooooo excited and is working feverishly to get everything organized to come. She is now part of the Google Group and we know you'll send her your warmest welcome.

Thrilled to our toes to have you along with us Jeanne-Marie!!!

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Another amazing letter from Kristi...

Hi again,

13 short weeks gives us butterflies...for all of us dreaming of being together in the streets of Orvieto!

We can see how much is in front of you, step by 'required' step, to make this happen. How about if we just assume everything is going to go smoothly and perfectly? It will at least help to know information from us is coming, and fun for you to begin to meet the folks in Misty's group. These should help brighten the days as you wait for your passport and begin to make serious plans.

* Just send us your mail address and we'll get our Travel Packet off to you.
*Bill will send you an email with an invitation to the Google Group. All you need to do is click the blue ACCEPT button and you'll be linked to any future emails. Once we see you are linked, we'll send out an email telling everyone you are jumping in with us. Does this sound ok?

Until then, I'll send you our most recent group email with a look at some background of get your travel juices flowing.

We are so grateful you are willing to take all this on in such a short time. Let the sweet anticipation can begin NOW!!!

Passport day...

So I had scheduled a trip to Home Affairs today.  With form, pictures and cash in hand, I was on my way... Applying for a passport in this country is never an easy thing to do.  So I was a bit nervous.  But I put my big girl panties on and directed myself there... with no problem.  The offices weren't too bad at all.  I sat in a quere for about 1 hour.  Which wasn't too bad because I met two lovely ladies and we chatted the whole way through this hour.  The one lady was actually married to an Italian man :-D and their boys went to my daughter's school - just in a higher grade, so they gave me some wonderful advice and information about what to expect in the coming years.  I really love these little encounters.  When I got to the counter they said I couldn't get an Italian Visa on a Temporary Passport so I would have to upgrade my forms to a full passport.  I mentioned my concern that it would take 10 weeks and that was cutting it too close.  I was assured this was the old system and that it would only take 2 weeks.  Not that I had a choice... so here we go.  I think this will be one of the make or breaks for this trip.  She said she would personally follow up for me and make sure that it's there within 2 weeks - even if it meant giving me my passport number so I could apply for my visa and tickets.  She was amazingly kind - so here's trusting for good things!

I know I'm stretching myself by doing this and stepping out at such a late stage but I have faith that if I am meant to be in Italy - it will be what's right for me.  If this is completely out of my grasp, the right things will happen...  Let the chips fall as they may.  But right now I am way to excited to think about anything negative.

Monday, 2 July 2012

Baby Steps... for this week

Okay... so where to from here...

1.  Put my name down on the list. [check] :-D
     There is only 6-10 places on this course.  This is what makes this course so special.
     So I didn't want to leave this to the last minute and miss out.

2.  Download my passport application form. [check]
3.  Passport photo's. [check]

4.  Budget.  [check]

5.  Send Kristi and Bill my postal address. [check]
     So I can receive my Travel Packet.

6.  Drop off application forms at Home Affairs.  [check]

7.  Flight enquries and book tickets. [check]

8.  Collect passport.  [check]

9.  Visa.

10.  Pay deposit.  [check]

OMGoodness - it's more than a spoken word... it's written!!

Dear Jeanne-Marie,

What terrific news! We understand this takes a bit of coordinating for the finances and passport, but rest assured YOU HAVE A SPOT! You are so kind to let us know of your intention...thank you.

Once you confirm you can join us, we will send you a PayPal Invoice for the full trip payment. This seems the easiest way for our international clients. You don't have to have a PayPal account and you can pay with a credit card or from a bank account.

We are just now sending out our final travel packets and getting the group connected by a fun Google Group email. Once you let us know your plans, we will sets these up for you too. You haven't missed a thing!

So dream on in a BIG BIG way and know your timing is perfect.
We are so excited for you!
Bill and Kristi

I did something crazy today...

I wrote to Kristi and Bill, from Adventures In Italy today and asked them to hold a spot for me in Italy.  I don't have all my ducks in a row, I am taking a huge risk and chance but hoping in the next few days - I will know more where I am going.  I just took a step of faith.  Okay... so my inner critics are asking me if I am crazy stupid right about now.  I think I might be.

I have been asking myself all week, am I this selfish to take this extravagant trip for myself, when money is tight and to go overseas alone.  I have been asking myself, am I so driven to get what I want... regardless of the cost to all of us...

Well to tell you the truth, I have never been selfish about anything in my life and everyone and everything comes before anything I have ever wanted for myself.  I guess this has always been easy for me because I don't think I have ever really known what it is I want.  I tend to just go with the flow and live from one day to the next.  And tend to just go where life takes me.  At times it's felt like I have lived a one dimensional life.  Like I am a flat person, lacking depth.  I don't think I have ever really thought about my future or ever really had a dream or what it is that I hope for.  I think this has been my life story.  I feel like I have spent the last 40 years doing what everyone has always expected of me and doing what is good and right and proper but not necessarily living the life I had choosen for myself.  Because in truth, I had never really known what that might be.

I think persuing art at this stage of my life is that I do believe I have found something in this world that I feel I belong to.  I feel like perhaps it is the thing I have been looking for forever.  And I do believe this trip isn't just about painting with some incredible artists but it is in the CHOOSING.  It's about wanting something.  For me.  For real.  Perhaps for the first time in my life.  And it isn't about just going with the flow but it's about going against what is expected of me.  I think it might be about finding my voice and using it.  I think it might be about responding to the gentle quiet whisper calling your name... and even though you know it's but a mere whipser - you know you have been called and you know you have to respond.

What to expect...

 This is enough to get me excited...  Love the look of the studio classroom and the set out.  The privelege of having first hand instruction and visuals.  I have been scanning through prevous class photo's and I am getting really excited at the prospect of doing something this wonderful and crazy.  I would love to know what extra things I would have to bring with.  I know there is much that happens in the studio but there is just as much that happens out of the studio... cooking with an Italian Chef, touring, photographing, winetasting... just to name a few. This would be the gifts of gifts to myself and for my family to give me this and this time. A lavish spoil.