Thursday, December 3

Wooden Spoons

I really do live in Milan.

I've been living for a month in my own place, my own space.  To say it's different to my last apartment in Pescara is...well...just not accurate.  It's more than just different, it's the complete opposite.  Basically I'm now living in less than half the metre-squared area I was, paying more than double the price and have one, yes one, room.

It's not all that bad though as the kitchen is technically in a room of it's own, it just doesn't have a door.  However I've discovered that if I open the door to the bathroom fully it actually acts as the door to the kitchen so its one door to cover two doorways.  This will only cause problems when I have visitors!

Another bonus is that there is a lift, although I won't use it much as I'm now living on the 1st floor.  It's the lowest level flat I've had since I've lived in Italy and the first time I've had anybody living above me since 2008!  So far the neighbours above me haven't disturbed me too much.  It's actually the guy next door that I hear the most, the avid football fan that he is.  There have been some evenings where I wished he wasn't quite so...passionate...about his team at 11pm.

In terms of furnishing the place there was pretty much everything here except some decent crockery and cutlery.  Thanks to the church Christmas Fair the other weekend I managed to get some amazing deals on a whole host of useful kitchen stuff.  Soup bowls, full set of cutlery, a set of shot glasses, dinner plates, side plates, tea box, five glass food jars, recipe stand, silver-plated pasta know, all those really, really important things a kitchen needs.  In fact, the most expensive items I've bought for my new flat were the wooden spoons!

Monday, October 19

I'm going to let you into a little secret...

...I wasn't a fan of Florence.

When I arrived in Florence it was full of people, and not full of people in a Milan way, but full of tourists...everywhere.  There didn't seem to be any daily-life people bumbling around, I saw only one 'supermarket' on my wanderings, but lots of tour groups, students and families of every nationality.  Now, don't get me wrong, the buildings were amazing but the crowds and constant movement really put me off.  Perhaps my four years doing day trips to remote hill top towns has meant I'm now spoilt.

I'm thankful that on my Sunday day-trip to Florence I did have good company.  If I hadn't, alas, I don't think I'd have lasted long wandering around.  My friends informed me what the buildings were infront of me (even though I have forgotten everything now).

I honestly haven't got a clue what the names of these things of them is definitely the Duomo though!

And, of course, they took me to a great place to eat which was in a less populated square so I really enjoyed the lunch.  The antipasti was awesome, so flavoursome with some great liver pate amongst many other delicacies.  For my main I chose a simple dish of sausages and potato but it was amazing.  Of course this was after a visit to my friend's favourite gelateria at 11.30am.


Plus there was some awesome graffitti on most streets, one of my favourite things to spot.

 Also, the sunset was quite spectacular over the river.

Hmm...on second thoughts...perhaps I liked it after all.  I'll have to go back and give Florence a second chance. 

Saturday, October 10


I did it. I've signed a contract for my own place. A small studio flat in an apartment block situated 20 minutes from work and 20 minutes from the city centre. I hope it'll mean the best of both worlds as I search for the epitome of living a balanced equilibrium between everything that life brings.

This morning I read Bob Gass' 'The Word for You Today', as I restarted doing so last week. I was struck by a passage in particular that to me just makes sense:
'What distinguishes consistently happy people from less happy people is the presence of rich, deep, joy-producing, life-changing, meaningful relationships. Social researcher Robert Putnam writes: “The single most common finding from a half century’s research on life satisfaction, not only in the U.S. but around the world, is that happiness is best predicted by the breadth and depth of one’s social connections.” But you can know a lot of people without really being known by any of them, and end up lonely. Those folks in the New Testament church got it right: It’s in sharing with one another spiritually, emotionally, financially, and relationally that you achieve your highest level of joy.'
I would consider myself a person who is one of the 'consistently happy people'. Yes I have periods, days, weeks, even months of loneliness and darkness but through all this I strive for 'happiness', or perhaps more accurately to be 'content' (Philippians 4:11). As the quote above states, a lot of this comes from what and how I share with others.

It's only been 6 weeks since I moved to Milan but my priority right now is to work on my relationships. Relationships with the children I work with, with the parents of those children, with my colleagues, with my colleagues who are also becoming close friends, with my friends in Pescara who I'm not able to see as regularly as before, with my friends in England that I see as before but now have different things to talk about, and with, of course, my family. All of these relationships change me in some way and I have to invest time into those relationships, sometimes when all I want to do is curl up in a ball and listen to music. I listen, I talk, I listen, and think. I let people's comments settle in my thoughts, or sometimes, I reject comments, discarding them. Sometimes I can view a person's comments as negative, only to see a positive in it days, weeks, months even years later.

It is this breadth and depth of relationships that I find amazing. There are people with whom I have a 'shallow' relationship, gaining 'joy' from the relationship only in terms of a particular circumstance. Then there are people with whom I have a 'deep' relationship. With these relations they tend to be based on a history, short or long, of honestly sharing our faults and foundations, and as a result these relationships are the ones that have the highest impact on my day-to-day being.

Problem's come with relationships however: after all it's a two way commitment. The time I invest in a person, thinking about them, speaking to them, etc. does not always equate to the amount of time the other person is investing. This leads to an imbalance, which can ultimately lead to difficulties in the relationship. If the relationship is of the shallower kind, it will dwindle and inevitably disappear, but if the relationship is a deep one it will always always bounce back, and stronger.

Another factor I've found important in building a relationship is honesty. If we omit details in a recount of an event, if we skirt around an issue or if we say we'll do something and then don't etc, it doesn't matter if the relationship is personal or professional, things will go wrong. That's why honesty is something I strive to do.

So, honestly, this transition to Milan has been the hardest thing I've done to date. I may well be 'tough', 'brave', 'courageous' or someone that's 'sorted' which friends have been saying to me over the last few weeks but I still have doubts, I cry myself to sleep some nights, and I am scared. In my experience, a person's strengths are often their weaknesses, and the good is also the bad.

Recently I've been considering that my time in Milan is about learning to walk before I can run. Reflecting on the excerpt from Bob Gass today, I think I will be able to run only after walking through the breadth and depth of relationships. Therefore, I thank God for all those 'others' that I share my world. By sharing the good, the bad, and the ugly, we are able to maintain a consistent happiness.

Friday, August 28

An Awesome August

In a warehouse in Ascoli Piceno, eighteen boxes contain all of my worldly possessions.  I say all...I've still got a lot of stuff loitering in my bedroom on the Isle of Wight, waiting for it's moment to be once again in use...but all of the stuff I've deemed useful from my four years in Pescara is now in storage.

So.  August.  What a busy month!  I spent the first 7 days in Pescara, rounding up the last bits and pieces one does when leaving somewhere.  After a breakfast here, a lunch there, a Catan game and a lot of arrosticini and gelato I'd managed to see the majority of people I wanted to see before leaving.  I also sold my bicycle and electric piano before declaring myself no longer the resident of my flat to hopefully avoid any more bin tax.

The second week of August I was on the Island.  One whole week on the Island!  I saw friends and family; revisited tourist attractions and did a little bit of shopping, all with my piano teacher's 18 year old daughter in tow!  She stayed with my parents and I as her holiday between high school and University.  It was great to have her company as I did my rounds of usual 'Island' stuff.

On to the third week of August which consisted of: 3 nights with an awesome friend in Gloucester, 1 sushi lunch with a bride and groom to-be near St. Pauls cathedral, a catch-up cuppa with my housemates from my London days at Marylebone, an overnight stay in Aylesbury to see my fantastic girls, 3 nights in Thetford with my best friend and her family and 1 night somewhere in the Wiltshire countryside.  Surprisingly everything went smoothly: I had no transport issues nor days where I forgot where I had to be!

That leaves me with the last week of August: if you need me, I'm on a boat plodding along the Kennet and Avon Canal somewhere between Bradford on Avon and Crofton.  But please, I want to enjoy this calm before the storm ahead so I'm being slack on communicating with the outside world.  I'm enjoying pretending to be 'Captain Laura' having navigated our boat through a flight of 16 locks in tandem with another boat.  And that was after getting drenched to the point my lips really did turn blue.

It's rained every-single-day.  I have been wearing the same clothes for five days in a row only to change for the evening meals at the pub.  And today, my 29th birthday, is no exception.  The rain, however, isn't with us yet so we're enjoying a bit of natural warmth from the sun itself.

Thanks to everyone for the birthday wishes.  As usual this day marks the end and beginning of me so I'll continue enjoying the peaceful sound of the water lapping against the side of the boat while I can.

As a result of an amazing month, I thank God for friends family scrabble, cups of tea, Hobknobs and sunshine.

Sunday, August 2

Jug Avoidance

I'm nearing the end of my time in Pescara, less than a week now...

I've been the Assistant Organiser of the English Speakers of Pescara Meetup Group for nearly 4 years. It's meant that when the awesome organiser, who founded the group in 2009, isn't in Pescara, I am the host of the fornightly aperitivo. It doesn't take a lot but at the same time, it is a responsibility I never imagined I'd ever have.

Since I started attending the Meetups in 2011, the group has grown to be consistently have 30-40 people participate: some people are 'regulars', others come and go depending on their work/home lives, others come once and that's it. I've ended up making a very active social life thanks to Meetup, the amount of people I've met and befreind in the last 4 years is truly incredible. One thing, however, is for sure: no Meetup is ever the same.

The reason for explaining this is that on the 5th August 2015, it will be my 100th Meetup. At least, it would be, if I was going.


Every year my brother's cricket team go 'on tour'. There's a schedule of 'friendlies' arranged with teams that sometimes also tour to the Island to play too - by Island I mean Isle of Wight, where I'm from - and the weekend is always the first weekend of August. One year I joined on the Saturday, half way through, other years I've managed to go for the whole thing. In particular, since residing in Pescara, the 'Cricket Weekend' has been my first stop on my return to England for the Summer.

Each Tour is themed, thought out by the team themselves in the run up to the tour. Every player and spectator has to buy the 'tour shirt' that is designed according to the theme, and if it's not purchased then you will be fined. The shirt needs to be worn to every game, if you don't wear it you will be fined, and even as a spectator it is assumed you will attend every game, and'll be fined it not. There really is a sense of community within the players and spectators during each tour and it can be a catch up with people you haven't seen since the previous tour.

The reason for explaining this is that this weekend it's my 10th Cricket Tour. At least, it would be, if I was going.


In the world of cricket, at least within my Brother's world of cricket, there's the term 'jug avoidance' which my Bro defines as:

Getting out before you score 50 or 100 runs so you don't have to buy a jug of beer for everyone!

I guess that would be the same as attending 99 Meetups when you're able to attend the 100th.  Or perhaps the same as choosing to fly back to England a week after finishing work so there's time to pack instead of going to your 10th Cricket Tour.

Saturday, July 18

Porcelain Skin

(I wrote this post on Wednesday 1st July but have only just got round to publishing it)

It's been one of those mornings, you know, one where you can't get up to begin with and then the first person you see rolls out the old 'why don't you go to the beach' routine.

This morning I'd reserved for going to enquire about how I pay the right amount of tax for the refuse collection, the TARI or F24.  As a must do errand which would lead to paying money, it got pushed further down the to-do list until finally I had no choice but to sort it.  Thus, I wasn't exactly springing out of bed this morning!  I even skipped my yoga routine, preferring to kneel for 5 minutes as some sort of mental preparation.

Anyway, I managed to tear myself away from my Bible reading to begin looking for ways to procrastinate around my house.  With this successfully achieved, by packing my first BoxOK box ready to move, just to see if I could pack a box..., I set off for the 'Ufficio Tributi'.

I'd purposefully chosen to wear my work shorts just in case I had to go straight to work after completing my errand.  I've learnt that one never knows how long the queue is when attempting to accomplish anything administration based in this town.  As a result my untanned, and never to be tanned, legs were gleaming away.

"Are you going to the beach?"  My neighbour says this every time I pass him in the garden...without fail.  Any time of day or night.
"No."  I smile back.
"You need to go to the beach."
"No, I don't" I grin.
"You need to go to the beach, put some beer on yourself." people.  Apparently the solution to my legs inability to tan has got nothing to do with the fact that my skin cells do not contain much melanin but that I need to put beer on them.  Honestly, where do these ideas come from?

As I cycle off I dwell on my 'tan', trying to work out how I'm going to get through yet another July of daily comments about my need to 'get tanned'.  The suggestions can get quite absurd but the beer one is a new theory for this year.  Once a friend and I even tried to explain to another friend how these 'your too white and not tanned' comments are in fact racism, but to no avail - so that's a no go.  Smiling and doing my best to let the comments slide from my memory is probably the only solution.

Once I'd stopped contemplating all the witty and sarcastic rebounds I could give to the next "go to the beach" scenario, I realised I was still cycling so should probably focus on that.  Thankfully I found the right road and was walking down the pavement when I passed a Romany gypsy begging.  I smile and say 'Good morning'.  What happens next I could never have predicted...under his breath, but still in ear shot, the beggar replies:  "Signora, devi andare al mare" which is translated to "Lady, you need to go to the beach".


Monday, June 1

I feel sad when my drink is ending

I know I'm in my happy place as I'll start to think in rhyme. My aim is to have written a series of poems about Pescara that will remain in my poetry book as a reminder of my time here.

Today I was planning how I'm going to celebrate my departure from Pescara.  I already know exactly where I want to have my 'official' leaving party: La Nuova Lavanderia.  I consider myself a lucky person as I knew of this place when it was just an idea in the owner's head as he is my colleague's husband.  While thinking about the invitations and how my leaving party will be such an oxymoron I began to rhyme.  As today I have the day off I actually had the time to build on that rhyme and write a whole poem (hurrah for time off!).  The title itself I wrote down a few weeks back whilst enjoying a cocktail there with one of my friends.  I really did feel very, very sad.

I feel sad when my drink is ending
said the Alchemist's assistant while rinsing glasses in the sink:
"Good to see you my friend, what would you like to drink?"
So she mulled over the menu that was pushed into her hand
by the Alchemist himself, a cheery, funny man.
They both watched her intently as her eyes began to glaze.
Whilst perusing the latest potions, all the words became a maze.
A maze of tingling taste buds: of sours, sweet and bitter,
of spice and fruit and cinnamon and mixtures that could glitter.
"You know...", she said, as she let the menu fall,
"I really can't decide, you seem to have it all."
"Well let me conjure something according to your taste,
I'll create a special potion that you will not want to waste."
And so it goes, the rhythm, of deciding what to drink
while the Alchemist's assistant rinses glasses in the sink.

Here's a recording of me reading it out loud:

Thursday, May 28

quality not quantity

The parents came and stayed with me for three nights, it's strange how the time both flew and lingered during their stay.
It's been a while since I sat down to update my blog.  I've been thinking about it, I really have, but I've not really known what to write about.  Once upon a time I was blogging all the hilarity that I was facing in my days as I battled with living in a new culture.  These things continue to happen but with a twist as now I'm slowly becoming part of this place, just a little bit.

The other night we went for dinner at the house of my piano teacher.  Instead of eating out at restaurants, as we have done so many times before when my parents have visited, I felt it was a good time for my parents to experience a more realistic representation of my week so that's how the dinner came about.  Even though my piano teacher doesn't speak English and my parents don't speak Italian, a good night was had by all.  In fact I think they had a much more memorable evening as a result, than any restaurant would have provided.

I no longer eat out at restaurants daily, perhaps once a week if that.  I still uphold a lively social life but in a different way: drinks out rather than dinners, a take-out pizza at mine, a walk along the seafront, or an ice cream after church, for example.  During these times I am able to give my time to someone to really listen to them and think about them.  Of course I do get it wrong: I have to practice biting my tongue, not finish other people's sentences and continue developing my patience, as well as try and keep calm when topics of conversation I don't like arise (argh, generalisations), but the changes I've been trying to make in my 'presence' when I'm with others has definitely been worth it.

Friendship really is about quality rather than quantity

Saturday, April 4

balancing the budget

skint adj. Penniless, poor, impecunious, broke.
On the morning of Sunday 29th March 2015 I went to the Tate Britain.  I left my suitcase at the cloakroom and walked around for an hour.  I finally saw the new staircase in the domed bit, and I walked through, really quickly, the historically ordered galleries to find the 1850's room to just stare once more at Ophelia

Three days later I received an email newsletter from the Tate: Tracey Emin's 'My Bed' was opened at the Tate Britain.  Typical.  I hadn't even realised it was to be opened but I as I find myself tied financially...all money I have in my possession and bank account reserved for various expenses...I have spent a drizzly Saturday afternoon watching interviews with Emin and, quite worringly, practicing the piano.

I am trying to stick to a much stricter monthly budget so I can afford to invest money in the bigger expenses.  This year sees two weddings, neither of which are on my doorstep, and a move to Milan to account for financially as well as the need to remove all of my wisdom teeth hopefully at the beginning of 2016.  What I did forget, when I set up the budget, is how living to a budget means I get more creative. 

When the 'I need to buy...' sentence starts, I have no option but to think around the word 'buy'.  As a result, today, instead of going to the supermarket to get provisions for the picnic I'm going to on Monday, I've made some bread rolls using baking soda, as I didn't have any yeast.  For the filling I'll use the two slices of cheese still in my fridge from when I made piadinas, that I've been saving for a time like this, with the half a tomato and rocket from Tuesday.  And voila, a culinary sandwich fit for any picnic.  Add in the mandarins I got on my last grocery shop and the dried cranberries I normally put with yoghurt for breakfast and I've got a packed lunch.  Heck I might even put in the last bar of Galaxy that I got from my parents and Grandma for Easter. 

In terms of socialising, gone are the regular restaurant dinners of a year ago.  Instead I've returned to my love of board games, €1.80 ice cream (hooray for Spring!), knitting, and dinners in.  Why I ever stopped hosting board game nights I'll never know but I'm loving how my current friendship network enjoy the same things...ok, maybe not the knitting, but I'll convert some of them soon enough!

One thing's for sure, my piano teacher will definitely be surprised when I turn up Tuesday morning and announce I've practiced more than the usual 40 minutes a week!

Sunday, March 29

I don't know what I'm doing...

...but I've managed to do a lot.

This weekend marks the end/beginning of something huge.  I've attended my graduation ceremony for my Master in Education confirming that I have the letters M. Ed (Open) after my name if I desire to write so.  My nearest and dearest joined me for the day and we managed to wander around a bit of London and see some sights too.

As usual my return to England has been busy however, in comparison with previous visits, it has actually been a quiet affair.  The best word to use would be solitary.  This weekend I've: been to the theatre to watch 'Harvey', a play about a Pooka that I highly recommend to everyone, even in film form; visited my two cousins on the Isle of Wight who've had babies 5 days apart with their respective spouses; spent an hour in the Tate Britain and discovered an amusing collection of photographs by Karen Knorr; sat on public transport...a lot.

Although doing all this 'on my own', I've obviously spoken to people.  From my family and friends who came to my ceremony, my cousins yesterday, the hostel worker who checked me in, the sisters from Taiwan I shared the hostel room with who asked for advice about English wedding protocol, the Dutch lady I walked from the bus stop to the Tate Britain with etc etc.  During these conversations I've managed to say and do silly things, as those of you who know me will have had the pleasure to...enjoy?...but of all the strange exclamations and head knocking to prove I no longer have a soft head, the best has to be when I walked into the Caffè Nero at Bishopsgate Liverpool St.  I looked up at the board for a while with, I'd like to think, an inquisitive look only to say to the barista, "I don't really know what I'm doing in a coffee shop".  He suggested I got a milkshake once he'd stopped laughing.  It was a very nice mint milkshake.

Thursday, March 19

Loving Well

Loving God Well.  Loving Myself Well, Loving Others Well.

The past few months I've been 'working' on my spirituality in alignment with my emotions.  I must admit it's been pretty challenging, an internal battle that is not over yet, nor ever will be.  Thanks to a book called 'Emotionally Healthy Spirituality' by Peter Scazzero and the accompanying devotional 'Day by Day' I do, however, feel I'm getting somewhere.

Today I read a passage that encapsulates the concept of 'loving well' that I'm trying to follow...

Love springs from awareness.  It is only inasmuch as you see someone as he or she really is here and now and not as they are in your memory or your desire or in your imagination or projection that you can truly love them, otherwise it is not the person that you love but the idea that you have formed of this person, or this person as the object of your desire not as he or she is in themselves.

Therefore the first act of love is to see this person or this object, this reality as it truly is.  And this involves the enormous discipline of dropping your desires, your prejudices, your memories, your projections, your selective way of looking, a discipline so great that most people would rather plunge headlong into good actions and service than submit to the burning fire of this asceticism....  So the first ingredient of love is to really see the other.

The second ingredient is equally important to see yourself, to ruthlessly flash the light of awareness on your motives, your emotions, your needs, your dishonesty, your self-seeking, your tendency to control and manipulate.*

That is all.

*Anthony De Mello as quoted by Peter Scazzero in 'Emotionally Healthy Spirituality Day by Day' by Peter Scazzero, 2014, p. 145.

Monday, March 2

Look what I received... the post today.

YEH!  The real certificate.  It's official, I actually 'possess' a Masters, if that's possible.  2 years of pondering and reflection summed up simply on one piece of - slighty flimsy - card.  Ho hum.  Funny that the theme of my Masters was how learning doesn't work like that but anyway, I like the simplicity!

Saturday, January 31

THE Job Hunt... on.

I consider myself extremely lucky to have some very amazing friends.  Without these friends I would find the peaks and troughs of life difficult.  Two of my closest friends, in fact I'd have to say my closest two friends, really helped me out over the New Year period.  Although it was difficult to leave their company, after doing so I really felt restored, refreshed and yet again, myself.

It seems I lose myself from time to time.  Amongst the day-to-day stuff that is life, I get lost.  I lose my key principle(s) and from there I sort of wobble.  But, thanks to my friends, I am just a weeble, I wobble but I don't fall down.

I've decided, with full force, to focus my job hunt on Milan, in an attempt to work towards my 3rd New Years Resolution.  This has come after six months of indecisiveness: return to England *wobble*, stay in Pescara *wobble*, move to a different country *wobble*, leave teaching altogether *wobble*, everything seemed so wobbly before Christmas.  However, since January 2015 started, and after chatting with family and friends, I'm feeling happy with a healthy dose of determination to stay in teaching, in Italy but, more specifically, move to Milan.

"Why Milan? and not Rome, or Florence, or Turin etc?", I get asked.

1.  Milan has a healthy amount of International Schools of various types, sizes and curriculum.  Sounds strange but my experience as a teacher in England broke me to make me.  I am a teacher, and a ruddy good one at that, who had a particularly...particular...experience in the first two years of her teaching career.  As a result I sort of ran-away, pushed the emergency button and jumped off the train.  It's time to get back on that train, back into a Primary school setting, but from a different angle.  I have to go back to the things that I am actually missing (shock-horror!): the planning and marking, creating SMARTboards, getting my head round how to make a child understand a concept that they may not be ready for yet, and everything else that teachers love to hate.  As well as dialogue: dialogue with all the positions that are within a large school.  Milan has a few schools that follow a UK curriculum that I am trained in and so it just makes sense to focus on that. 

2.  I'm not done with Italy, oh no Sir.
Italy has got under my fingernails in the same way salt dough does.  I'm afraid I can't actually explain why, it just is.  I started looking at jobs in England, mainly around London, Bristol and Gloucester for various reasons, but I felt all itchy and blotchy just thinking about 'returning'.  I'm also reading many adverts for schools all over Europe but a strange unwillingness clouds over me to go any further than read the schools information or browse their website, even when some jobs offer much higher financial benefits than any teaching job in Italy could ever provide.

3.  There's something pulling me to Milan.
What that something is will depend on your personal belief about where such somethings come from, whether it's fate, or destiny, or God, or coincidence or just because.

4.  I have a lot of sight-seeing on my to-do list.
I've been to a few places in the North-West, but the majority of Northern Italy remains untouched.  Milan, being Milan, has better public transport connections to the rest of Italy and other European countries in Europe. There are many more weekends out and about ahead.

5. The connections to England are more efficient. 
I need to stay connected to my friends and family in England, simple as that.  Stansted doesn't make that easy when I'm from the south of England.  However having more locations to fly to in England, even if only in the peak season, will make catching up with all my loved ones just that little bit easier.

6.  My blog would become 'Laura in Lombardia'

And so, I'm going to go hunt me a job.

Update: after speaking to my Brother on Skype, he also said that it would be, and I quote, "more interesting to visit you in Milan than where you are now"...that, yes, is also true.  I'd be likely to have more visitors!!

Sunday, January 18

Roll on 2015 blogging situation seems to be dwindling somewhat and I can't decide if I've got nothing to say, or everything to say.  

This year has started on a better foot than the last.  Looming over the start to 2014 was the forthcoming funeral of a close friend.  This New Years I spent in the company of my bestest and closest friends with the news that there will be two weddings and two births to celebrate...oh and my third graduation.  Hooray!

And with a New Year there comes the resolutions

I don't know about you but I have 'goals', things I want to do, that are longer running than just a year.  In the first six months of living in Pescara I declared I had three 'Ongoing Goals'.  One was related to learning Italian, one work related and one based on a 'hobby'.  Turns out I've only got one more goal to achieve...the hobby one.

This, I fear, is going to be the most difficult of them all.  Learning Italian has been time consuming, but useful for both work and leisure and I can safely say that I've exceeded even my own expectations of reaching an Upper-Intermediate level since arriving in Pescara in August 2011.  Completing the Masters was also ridiculously time consuming, including overnight essay writing and a lot of panic.  However I know I bizarrely enjoyed the challenge and hope it will contribute significantly to my career prospects.  A piano diploma however, now that is my Wall.

I love playing the piano BUT I also hate it, and I mean hate it.  There are weeks when I don't play it, nor think about it.  My piano teacher despairs, as all my previous ones have too, when I rock up to a lesson all smiles, only to announce that "nope, not practiced...not even touched a piano".  Oh goody.  Why is taking diploma in piano performance your resolution then Laura?  I hear perhaps one of you ask.

You see, I'm not an exceptional pianist, never have been, but I want to be, I'm willing myself to be one, and so: I will be an exceptional pianist.  And that's the issue: as a perfectionist, a 'Type A' personality, I can't not be good.  I strive hard, really hard, to be good at everything, too much so, and that's why I ended up in Pescara in the first place.  I do not recommend having a 'burn-out' at the age of 24.

Even though I'm currently building up my knowledge of how to be a Type B personality: realigning my 'warpy' thoughts, learning how to truly relax, and trying not to have so many heart palpitations, the ridiculously high expectations of myself lead me to this one last thing, getting my piano diploma.  I'm going to have to be very careful.

So that's resolution no. 1:  Take a piano diploma.  It's hard to explain how this is so emotionally connected to everything I'm working on now so I'll save that for another day.

In comparison resolution no. 2 is easy peasy: pass at least B2 in Italian.  As I managed to pass the last exam without frequenting the school weekly, the fact I'm attending 6 hours a week of Italian should hopefully help me.  Even if this level is quite a bit tougher.

Then the third resolution seems a bit random but marks a turning point: double my salary.  Simple.  It's a turning point as it will signify the start of a new chapter.  I will no longer be 'Pakes in Pescara' but somewhere else (hopefully).  However it may mean returning to a more stressful work environment by reentering a different style of schooling to where I am now, in a much larger city.  It Whatever happens after gaining a position that will double my salary will be the ultimate test for all the things I've been focusing on these past four years, mainly my Type A personality.  Only time will tell if my lifestyle changes, over the past year in particular, have really made a difference.

And that's it fellow readers, my three resolutions for 2015.

What are yours?