Magical Moments

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away. – Unknown

Sunset Beach, Cape May Point, NJ Copyright 2014 Shirley Sorbello

Sunset Beach, Cape May Point, NJ
Copyright 2014 Shirley Sorbello

I returned a few days ago from a relaxing, refreshing week in Cape May, NJ. Holding on to that sense of inner peace I’ve felt since I returned becomes more difficult with each passing day, but I’m determined this time to wait a bit longer before I allow it to slip through the cracks of everyday life.

I spent a lot of time sitting on Sunset Beach at Cape May Point staring at the Delaware Bay watching the dolphins doing their spins. The sand there is filled with bits of quartzite which are polished to a brilliant shine and sold as Cape May diamonds. Off shore lies the remains of the SS Atlantis, a concrete ship from World War I that was towed to Cape May to be used as a ferry dock in 1926. In June of that year, the ship broke free of her moorings in a storm and ran aground here.

SS Atlantus, Cape May Point, NJ Copyright 2014 Shirley Sorbello

SS Atlantus, Cape May Point, NJ
Copyright 2014 Shirley Sorbello

On the cloudiest day of the week, I was enjoying the refreshing salt air on Sunset Beach when I began to see a band of sparking light along the horizon. A few minutes later the entire bay before me was covered in sparking sunlight. Several more dolphins were frolicking. Soon the sunlight faded completely and minutes later the band of light appeared again on the horizon and stretched again across the bay as the sun and clouds did their dance. This repeated a couple of more times. The picture at the top doesn’t do it justice. It looked like nature’s beauty at it’s best and felt like God had the paintbrush in His hand.

Sunset Beach, Cape May Point, NJ  Copyright 2014 Shirley Sorbello

Sunset Beach, Cape May Point, NJ
Copyright 2014 Shirley Sorbello

I had always believed that Sunset Beach was a special place because the energy there felt so positive and relaxing. Now it’s even a bit magical for me; I can’t wait to return.

How about you? Magical moments are gifts for the soul. Have you experienced any lately?

Friday’s Photos – Isola Bella

Isola Bella in Lake Maggiore, Italy Copyright Shirley Sorbello 2006

Isola Bella in Lake Maggiore, Italy
Copyright Shirley Sorbello 2006

My favorite place on earth is the island of Isola Bella in Lake Maggiore, near Stresa, Italy. I wrote about it HERE on this blog a couple of years ago. The gardens are lovely, and the beauty of the mountain views is undeniable.

Isola Bella Copyright Shirley Sorbello 2007

View from Isola Bella
Copyright Shirley Sorbello 2007

However, it’s more than beauty that draws me here…it’s the way it makes me feel when I’m there—joyful, loving, peaceful—a place that brings me contentment unlike anywhere else on earth.

What about you? Do you have a place nearby or at a distance that calls to you to visit because it makes you happy and stress-free to be there?

Friday’s Photos – Tower of Pisa

Cathedral and Tower of Pisa Copyright 2006 Sherri L. Sorbello

Cathedral and Tower of Pisa
Copyright 2006 Sherri L. Sorbello

These photos of the Cathedral and Bell Tower of Pisa were taken by my daughter, Sherri, on June 30, 2006. I still remember how uncomfortable the heat and humidity were that day as we walked through the tiny town of Pisa, Italy to get to the Campo dei Miracoli (Field of Miracles) where the cathedral and bell tower are located.

And yes, it really does lean, although apparently not as much as it did previously. According to the resources listed below, the tower began to lean during its over two hundred years of construction from 1173 to 1399. Various method of compensation and reinforcement continued over the centuries without much success until the late twentieth century.

Tower of Pisa Copyright 2006 Sherri L. Sorbello

Tower of Pisa
Copyright 2006 Sherri L. Sorbello

When the tower was in danger of collapse in 1990, it was closed to visitors while engineers took on a major straightening project. This was completed in May 2001 after correcting the lean 19 inches (it leans about 13 feet at the top) and more importantly, stopping it from continuing.

Pisa got its name in 600 BC from a Greek word meaning “marshy land.” Apparently this is the reason for the problem with the tower and the fact that other structures in Pisa, including the cathedral, are sinking.


Need to Get Away?

Sonogno Church and Bell Tower

Sonogno Church and Bell Tower

Simplicity can be thought-provoking and uplifting especially if you are in a foreign country. Journey with me as I relive a trip to the small, quaint town of Sonogno in Southern Switzerland.

Edge of town

Edge of town

In 2007, my daughter, Sherri, and I traveled to Ticino, which is the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland. Yes, Italian-speaking, and, of course, we did venture into Italy a couple of times. Logical questions for those of you who know of my passion for Italy!

Street in Sonogno

Street in Sonogno

Sonogno lies about twenty-five miles north of Locarno, at the end of the paved road through the Valley Verzasca. Since no outside traffic is allowed into the town, our tour bus dropped us off at the edge of the village along a fertile green pasture. A chorus of cow bells filled the air along with an occasional moo as we walked along. The church and bell tower were nestled by mountains so high that parts of the town were heavily shaded.

Cottage in Sonogno

Cottage in Sonogno

Who are the people who live up here? Surprisingly, I found a few interesting facts on Wikipedia.

The number of residents in 2008 was 95, with an equal distribution of males and females; 7 were children. Ninety-five percent of the population are Swiss and the remainder are legal residents from other countries. The village has a dying language which is a mixture of Latin and Celtic although 93% speak Italian. The village population was at its highest in 1850 at 334 after which residents began leaving to seek better job opportunities in more urban areas, including overseas. The highest age bracket is in the 40 to 49 range. Surprisingly, two-thirds of the population have completed the non-mandatory secondary education or advanced or additional higher education. As of 2005, 46 of the residents were employed in some capacity of which 37% were women.

Town Oven

Town Oven

When you visit a place totally unlike anything you have ever seen, it’s almost a rebirth into a new world of sight and feeling. It feels like leaving the present and traveling back a century to a totally unfamiliar place with a few tiny shops, some gray stone cottages, a small hotel and a town oven. A town oven? Yes, used heavily in the middle ages, no doubt. It seems a simple place to live without many of the complexities of modern life. No doubt the rural conditions here create some dilemmas most of us are unaccustomed to. Regardless, there was an unmistakable sense of peace and tranquility in this quaint village…the kind that generates thoughts about what it would be like to live here and what really matters in life.

A Writer’s Conference in the Mountains

I have been a fan of many Hay House publications for a number of years. Writers such as Louise Hay and Wayne Dyer dot my bookshelves and have often inspired me to move out of my comfort zone and reach for my goals, such as with a writing career. This year, when the opportunity came to attend The Writer’s Workshop in Ashville, NC, sponsored by Hay House, I knew I had to attend.

I drove twelve hours down to Ashville early last month to attend this weekend workshop and spend two additional days driving around the Blue Ridge Parkway. The weather was a little stormy, but I still enjoyed the journey down and the time alone driving through the woods in the Park, catching a breath-taking glimpse of the mountains here and there among the clouds. It was a very inspirational setting for a writer!

One-hundred and seventy new and wannabe writers from various states congregated at the Crowne Plaza Resort for this event. More than anything else, this was an inspirational workshop. I came out of there actually believing I could write an excellent book even if Hay House couldn’t publish it. New York Times best-selling author, Cheryl Richardson spoke of her humble beginnings and her journey to successful publication.  She was, in many ways, just like those of us dreaming to publish a book—simply armed with a story to tell that drove her passion. Reid Tracy, President and CEO of Hay House, spoke at length about the publishing industry, writing a book proposal, and what it takes to get published during these fast-changing times in the industry. I was struck by the realization that they are both everyday-kind-of people who are doing extraordinary things. No pretense, no self-importance, just genuinely real people. Videos of Louise Hay, Doreen Virtue and, Wayne Dyer describing their early writing experiences and tips for success were also quite enjoyable and helpful for new writers.

Hay House generally publishes non-fiction, self-help, inspirational books. To be successful in getting published with this genre, I learned that you need to show a publisher that you already have a following and that you are willing to do (or already doing) workshops, lectures and anything else it takes to sell your book. Gone are the days when the publisher does all the marketing. With fiction, the platform is not as important, but it definitely helps to have one. Series fiction, such as a trilogy, is popular now and can lead to greater success as an author. In these workshops, Hay House offers the unique opportunity to attendees to submit a book proposal directly to them without going through an agent. The lucky winner will receive a $10,000 book advance. The proposal is due in December, 2012. Since Mr. Tracy said they will consider any genre for this competition, I am planning to finish my novel and submit a proposal to them. I figure the worst that can happen is that I will have a novel almost ready to submit to another publisher or to self-publish. To me, that seems to be a win-win situation.

A Touch of Italy

I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to visit Italy three times in my life and hope to do it again in the near future.  If you have only one chance to visit Europe, make it Italy.  It can be the experience of a lifetime if you will allow it to be.  You have only to be open to it.  I wrote this shortly after my second trip there in 2006.

For Blog

Italy will touch you.  That is, it will gently speak to your heart and soul to the extent that they can hear.  If you are lucky, it will reach inside you, pull out and hand to you, most elegantly of course, all your passion that’s been tucked away so deeply, but was hesitant to venture out in our more reserved American society.

Go to Italy if you want to love so strongly it will take your breath away, experience beauty around every corner, and breathe in the magnificence of the spiritual energy of hundreds of years that vibrates so strongly in places like Venice and Assisi.

It’s okay to “feel” things in Italy.  Your soul is bared…open to sentiments of passion, pain, tragedy, love, joy, beauty and life. Your heart bursts open to all of life’s experiences with an intensity that has only simmered within you in the past. Yes, there is the return of that joyful breath of life traveling along with you. You wonder why you waited so long to start living and only hope that as you return to your own wonderful country, you can take with you as much passion for life as your heart and soul felt there.

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