Maitri Libellule aka Wabi Sabi Woman

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I am delighted to announce that after an absence of three years we can once again enjoy Wabi Sabi Woman podcasts by Maitri Libellule.

Over 100 are currently available at her audioBoom page.

Maitri is a long-time member of the blogosphere.  As I browsed her site for the links in the list below I was stunned to realize that I have been reading and enjoying her blog Maitri’s Heart for nearly ten years now. Prior to that I would make regular online visits to Dragonfly Cottage. We have been through a lot together. She’s as real to me as anyone I know in my offline life.

She’s a writer, mixed media artist, teacher, mother, grandmother, pug mama, and survivor.

You can read her bio here.

Becoming an Artist at 60 – facebook page

100 Ladies Project – Make Your Art and Tell Your Story

and so it begins – first post on Maitri’s Heart blog circa 2007

About Dragonfly Cottage – where I first meet Maitri

Wishing you all Peace, Love and Chocolate,
Frances D

Michelle Fabio of Bleeding Espresso: An Interview

MichelleLoveParkMichelle Fabio joined She Who Blogs on May 28th 2007. That same day I popped over to her blog bleeding espresso to check it out, and spent over two hours reading every post. One day I hope to see a film about this woman’s story.

Small town girl slash lawyer visits her family’s ancestral home in Calabria, Italy, lives in a House of Violets, loses a jean jacket to the wind, and then finds the jacket and true love in the same day.

I have remained Michelle’s friend and fan for nearly ten years now.  During that time she has expanded her free-lance writing career, raised goats, and in 2013 gave birth to a daughter Marisa aka baby espresso.

Michelle was able to make some time to do an interview for She Who Blogs.  Grazie Mille Bella I know time is a precious commodity for a busy toddler mom slash writer.

calabria1.)  You’ve written a book: 52 Things to Do in Calabria. Can you tell us a bit about the journey? How long did it take from being a thought to a finished product? How did you – a busy lawyer turned writer who also happens to be Mom to a toddler – organize her time to complete the project? Is there another book in the works?
A vague idea for a Calabria travel book had been floating around in my head basically since I moved here in 2003, but the concept of breaking it into 52 things as opposed to doing a traditional guidebook like Lonely Planet didn’t occur to me until much later — probably about six months before I actually started writing.

I wrote much of it over the course of six months or so, almost entirely after my daughter went to sleep at night. The format lent itself well to that because I could tackle one topic every time I sat down at the computer, whether it was compiling research or writing or both. It definitely helped to have a solid idea of what I needed to accomplish whenever I worked on it

I gave up sleep hours, for sure, but when your time is limited like mine was — working to support our little family and also the primary caretaker of the kid with no child care — if it’s something you really want to do, you figure it out.

I am currently working on something still related to Calabria, but this time, fiction! A cozy mystery set in rural southern Italy featuring amateur sleuth Dahlia D’Amato. I completed 50,000 during NaNoWriMo this year and then didn’t touch it for a couple weeks, and now I’m working on it again pretty much every day to strengthen the story and characters. I am approaching 60k words at the moment, with the goal being somewhere around 75k. Then will come editing, and I anticipate releasing this book by the summer of 2017 if all goes well.

2.) I read and loved your Babywearer and Proud post at Baby Espresso. I remember my own Old Country Nona scolding me about carrying my Josie in a Snuggly because the baby would want to be held all the time.  Bah!  Can you tell us about another incident  where you’re considered out of Italian-step?
Pretty much everything I do with my daughter is out of Italian step. HA! Let’s see, starting from when she was ababywearing teeny thing, I would take her out in all kinds of weather. Always appropriately dressed, but I always got comments as to how she shouldn’t be out in [fill in the blank]. This applied whether it was too cold, too windy, too sunny, etc. I was basically never right. And yet my kid didn’t get so much as a sniffle for her entire first year of life, so whatever.

3.) Three long-time favorite blogs/bloggers, as well as three you’ve discovered recently.
My long-time favorites happen to be people I’ve gotten to know personally: Laura at Ciao Amalfi, Rebecca at Brigolante, and of course, you, Frances 🙂

Don’t hate me but I don’t really read blogs anymore, so there’s really no one new to me, although I do follow Scary Mommy on Facebook and I like a lot of their articles, which are mostly like blog posts (personal in nature but relatable on a wider scale).

4.)  If you could go back and change one thing in your blogging journey – what would you have done differently?
Hmmm I probably would have started directly on my own domain and with WordPress, but that is easy to say in hindsight now that I have a better grasp of how everything works behind the scenes. Realistically I probably needed to start on Blogger to get my feet wet first, though.

5.)  How about a few words of advice for budding bloggers?
Start where you are. There won’t ever be the perfect time to do anything, but the only way to get moving on something is to do it. Also, reach out to other bloggers you like and support them, too. The blogging world is very different from when I started ten (OMG TEN) years ago, but I’m confident there are still welcoming communities to be found, like this one, for instance.

michelleYou can also find Michelle at her professional site, MichelleFabio.com, and occasionally at Baby Espresso, where she writes about finding humor in motherhood in rural southern Italy.

Bleeding Espresso is on Facebook, and Michelle is on Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest @michellefabio.

If you would like to work with Michelle or have questions or comments, feel free to contact her.

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Human Family from Beth at Living a Quotable Life

img_3672“I note the obvious differences between each sort and type, but we are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike.” 
~Maya Angelou, “Human Family

I was 15 years old before I understood racism.

Growing up in Kenya, I was something of an anomaly… pale skin, blonde hair, and green eyes. I became accustomed early on to being touched by strangers – particularly the caressing of my hair – but it was never malicious or sexual. I knew I was different than the majority and that was okay. But, different wasn’t bad. I believed people were just people.

Oh, I knew we had our differences. Food was always the obvious one – but food is one of the great planet Earth adventures. And, sure, we worshipped different gods – or the same God called something other than God – or no god at all. Our differences excited me. It made humanity so much more interesting.
Then we came back to the United States and spent ten months in Louisiana… the “Deep South,” KKK country. Don’t misunderstand me; there are millions of wonderful people in Louisiana who aren’t racists – but there are probably just as many who are and it hit me like a crowded bus traveling at the speed of light.
Every high school has its version of “affinity groups” (aka: cliques) – my multicultural high school in Kenya was no exception – but here, in tenth grade, is when I realized that, aside from the classroom and the sports field, the Whites hung out with the Whites, the Blacks with the Blacks, the Hispanics with the Hispanics, the Asians with the Asians, etc. Even the military kids from the local Air Force base drifted to their like kind, which puzzled me immensely. “Shouldn’t they think like me?” I thought… until someone confessed that military kids really have no need to leave a foreign base unless they want to (Why wouldn’t you want to?).
Word spread quickly in my new high school that I had moved from Africa, perpetuated, no doubt, by the youth from the church we attended because they were the only ones who knew. I was uncomfortable from day one, but I was also determined to not let it change me or the way I treated people; however, my efforts to remain friendly to everyone, combined with the collective knowledge of where I was from, earned me nicknames I refuse to repeat.
Some of the White boys became progressively uglier in their taunts. Their obvious malicious intent was countered by a handful of Black football players who took it upon themselves to escort me safely from one class to another. Eventually, thankfully, the novelty of the blonde girl from Africa wore off. Teenagers have notoriously short attention spans. I continued being friendly with anyone who would allow me and I become close friends with two like-minded military girls who made the remainder of that academic year tolerable
But my eyes has been opened.
Racism was no longer something I read about in a history book; it became a living, breathing, thriving entity… and I loathe it. It makes me more angry than just about any other abomination.
When I returned to Kenya, I began to see and experience White privilege where I had been blind to it before. I am even guilty, in my adolescent years, of blatantly taking advantage of it. I realized at sixteen that, being White and blonde, I could waltz into any club in the country without showing proof of age. Some would say it was my relative attractiveness that earned me such special treatment. No. That’s White privilege making excuses for White privilege.
I came back to the United States for university in 1992 – Arkansas, one state above Louisiana – back in the “Deep South” – and, 25 years later, I still struggle with racism every day.
I am here to tell you that white privilege is real and more people need to recognize it.
I am also here to tell you that Black Lives Matter.
Sure, all lives matter, but that’s not the point.
Black Lives Matter because, as the mother of sons, I fear for the boys of my Black friends like I have never had to fear for my own dudes.
Black Lives Matter because good people are turned away from the most basic of jobs and forced into the system by the same people who then accuse them of milking it.
Black Lives Matter because, in a town that has two universities, but is still the size of a postage stamp, a person of color should be able to walk across the street from one campus to the other without a shade of suspicion. (Unless it’s Battle of the Ravine rivalry week, of course, and then we are all suspicious of one another.)
Black Lives Matter because they are still treated as though they don’t belong – generations of people who have helped build this country into the nation it is today.
Black Lives Matter because those who choose to speak up about the freedoms they deserve are still perceived as “uppity” or seeking to incite violence.
Black Lives Matter because this degradation and assault on basic freedoms is far too often met with grace, forgiveness, and hope… when they have the right to be angry.
Hell, I’m angry. It makes me livid, but I have hope and I want my Black friends to have hope too. It’s there.

My sons are now 21 and 16. I’ve watched closely as they have grown up in such a wildly different environment from the one in which I was raised; but, like me, they don’t really recognize color as a divide between people. Many of their friends – White, Black, Asian, Middle Eastern, Hispanic, Mixed – they feel the same way. Of the oldest’s three closest friends, two are of people of color… one Black and one Middle-Eastern. And my teenager? His girlfriend is part Japanese. Oh, there are still cliques in high school (and college), but they aren’t all separated by race like the one I attended all those years ago.

This is our future.

If we let them… if we stop taking one step forward and five steps back… these millennials have it in them to end racism and build us into the Human Family I have always longed for us to be.

Bleeding Espresso Wins Italy Magazine’s Best Living in Italy Blog 2016

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She Who Blogs is delighted to announce that Michelle Fabio of Bleeding Espresso has won
Italy Magazine’s Best Living in Italy Blog for 2016.

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Michelle Fabio, an American attorney-turned-freelance writer and editor, moved to her ancestors’ medieval hilltop village of Badolato in Calabria (the toe of Italy’s boot) in 2003.
Michelle has been interviewed at Expats BlogLocation Independent: From Law to ItalyLa Vita E’ BellaThe Food ChannelThis Eclectic Life; and various others.
She is the author of 52 Things to Do in Calabria.

 

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“Michelle Fabio’s guide is the perfect companion to carry along while exploring this magical region. Her mixture of history, culture, and people make it far superior to traditional guidebooks, which seldom scratch the surface of place and time.” – John Keahey, author

2016 Highlights from Lissa at the last rain girl

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‘just a nice little quote’

I thought about highlighting my favorite blog posts because I really have not done any new blogging things that are worth mentioning so I decided to list some 2016 things that I did – new things that is kind of a big deal to me even if they aren’t to most people.

01/ wrote to a real, living author and told her how much I enjoyed her books –  okay, so it was not an actual hand-written letter but a little note at the author’s website, not much of a big deal to most people but I don’t really like writing to authors or anyone whose work that I like and admire so it was nerve-wrecking but thankfully, the author was gracious

02/ entered a writing contest – just a short piece of fiction, didn’t win of course, but it was one good step toward something to a goal about my writings, got some good feedbacks so that was good

03/ wrote to someone about editing my writings – it’s very hard to decide who to pick to edit your work because your creations are like your newborns so it can make anyone jittery & I’m the kind that panic about such things, plus, what if I don’t get along with this person or that I didn’t like their ideas or suggestions? – such are the thoughts of a nervous, amateur writer

04/ started on my illustration book – wrote the story and did some sketches which is actually a lot more progress than most of my other creations even though I had wrote the story two years before but at least I got it started

05/ I managed to stay at one url for a year – not really a big deal but I have been hopping and sometimes moping, around the blogosphere looking for  that perfect blog name and realizing it’s not all that important anymore;  December 1st was this blog’s 1st anniversary which I sort of forgotten but I remembered when I was writing this list; also, I changed the blog name from ‘that last rain girl’ to the current one: ‘rainswept’

My memory isn’t that good but I’m pretty sure I did things other than lazy around, watch television and read books. I’m almost pretty sure…

What new things did you do in 2016?

Visit Lissa at the last rain girlrainswepthedjan2017b-1