And It Was Mind-blowing…

Hello You Guys,

I’m back from adventuring, and it was amazing! I left for this trip totally depleted. I’d been burning the midnight oil with APW, a bunch of behind the scenes APW projects, David taking the bar, and you know… work. I had a killer sinus infection, and circles under my eyes. I needed a break in a bad way. These last two weeks were everything a vacation should be: restorative, mind expanding, stressful, and intense. David took this picture of me on our last day in Venice, and I think it sums it up exactly:

Meg in Venice

That’s me. Chiller, tanner, and a little fatter. And happy, happy, happy.

So! First order of business is to thank Liz and Alyssa for taking such good care of the site and all of you while I was gone. When I left I told them not to worry – there was no way anyone was going to be mean to them. Commenters were mean to me sometimes, but in the way that you’re mean to your mom, but not your babysitter. No one was going to feel comfortable enough to yell at them. But! I was totally wrong! By the end of last week a few people were jumping all over Liz and Alyssa in the comments people sometimes jump all over me. Soooo… I’m taking that to mean that you lurve them and you want them to stay forever. Right? Right! So a HUGE thank you to two women willing to take on the crazy being that is APW for two whole weeks, and let me wander around and think. I am very grateful. And I’m very grateful for all of the rest of you, who kept right on commenting and being smart and supporting each other, and let me slip away. I’d tune in now and then (APW is my baby, after all… it’s hard to not just glance at it), scroll through the comments, grin, close the computer and go sit in the sun. So, thank you.

Second order of business. Italy. I was there. For two whole weeks. I’m still trying to sort out the trip and our anniversary, and what if anything I have to say about it, but here is a start. Earlier this year, when I was in the midst of re-launching APW, Kimi (she of Printable Press) sent me a quote from the book Craft, Inc. about running your own business. It said roughly, “If you are planning on working for yourself you should think on how to incorporate your absolute favorite activities. Like travel, photographing puppies, jotting notes down in notebooks, whatever.” So, I stuck that quote up and have been thinking a lot about it.

What I realized these last two weeks is that the same thing is true in our marriages too (and more generally our lives). I’m a born and raised pessimist, which means I tend to think that we don’t have very much control over our lives, and we should always be watchful for The Worst. But this fortnight, I got to thinking. While marriage is something huge and something that you can’t ultimately control, it is something that you can nudge along in the right direction. It takes persistance and a bit of risk… but we really can nudge our marrages, and start creating what we want and need.

I’ve always wanted to travel, and have never gotten much of a chance to (by which I mean I did not leave the state of California till I was 14). So, going into marriage, I knew that I wanted to have the kind of marriage that included a lot of, “f*ck it, we’ll travel now,” as opposed to, “f*ck it, we’ll just travel later, maybe, if we can afford it, and our health is good, and the kids are grown, and it all works out.” And honestly, that’s how I wanted us to approach our lives and partnership, not just our travel. I knew that I wanted this out of marriage, I just didn’t have a lot of hope that I could make that happen – I was thinking about the worst, and afraid to plan for better. But this year, even with all of the things we were out of control of – bad job situations, sh*tty economy – we decided that we wanted to go to Italy… somehow. And we made it. And that feels HUGE.

For all that some things went horribly or minorly wrong with our vacation (jet engine failure and a threatening flasher included), we had an amazing time. We have new memories together, and new totally ridiculous will make me start laughing till I cry stories. We got time to just hang out together and eat. And eatandeatandeatandeat. We got to hang out with long time APW reader and commenter Kyla (who just got married!) and her husband in Florence (hanging out with Team Practical ladies all over the globe is totally perk #1 of my job). Unsurprisingly, I felt like we’d known them for a million years in less than 24 hours.

And finally, swimming in the Mediterranean. This has been on my Life List/ Mondo Beyondo List* for years, but I didn’t know what I was in for. Every single time I do something that I’ve had on my life list it feels like flying. It feels like creating magic out of thin air. But this one, people? This one was a doozy. I grew up in Southern California, and I know good beaches, but I’ve never felt anything like this. The water is the bluest thing you’ve ever seen. There are little pebbles to stand on. Where we were there were swells instead of waves. And the water is warm. I’d just climb into the water and bob around for an hour or more. It was mind blowing. You should do this thing. Really.

And with that… I’ve missed you guys. I’ve missed wedding graduates and writing. I mean, I was writing posts and notes on the plane, for goodness sakes. However, I’m jet lagged and need to unpack so things may be spotty for the next 48 hours, but I’m back. Oh. And emails. If you emailed me over the past two weeks, I’m getting there. Slowly.

Smooches (and no f*ck this time),


*Do you guys know about this whole practice? It will change your life. I’ve never done the class, but I’ve been doing the lists since 2004, and I’ve crossed out something like 80% of my 2004 list, even though I almost never pull it out and look at it. Crazy.

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  • Yay! Welcome back, Meg. Congrats on a vacation well done; you definitely looked relaxed.

  • Glad you had such a wonderful time! I studied in Florence for nine months my junior year of college (which was only about two years ago now) and in many ways it was hard (being far from family and friends), but it was absolutely a worthwhile thing I did in my life, before I got married, and I’ll always remember it! I also got engaged when my (now) husband visited and proposed to me in Venice, so there are plenty of wonderful memories there for us as a couple too!

    Glad you got to enjoy Italia for two weeks! Good for you!

  • Welcome back Meg!! I’m glad to see you’re feeling much more fantastic! :) I also am in the same boat — just arrived back from an 11 day whirlwind of weddings around the country – including one in your amazing city! I’d never been before and (aside from the sometimes frigid weather) my hubs & I absolutely freakin’ loved it! And now feel lovely, reconnected, relaxed and recharged. :) Yay vacations!

    And swimming in the Mediterranean was just added to my list thanks to your description … that sounds beyond beautiful! Yes, please! :)

  • caitlin

    Welcome back! The trip sounds fabulous– your description of the Mediterranean makes me drool. I just spent my honeymoon swimming in the glacial lakes of northern Minnesota, and while the water was crystal clear, the pebbles were more like sharp rocks, and the temperature— well, let’s just say it was frigid. But now I’m back to APW too, and I can’t wait to see what you have up your sleeve. :)

  • Welcome back! Italy is a soul restoring place. We’re headed there for a honeymoon in March and I can’t wait.

  • Welcome back! I’m glad to hear Italy was amazing. That is where my fiance and I are going for our honeymoon in October, for two weeks as well, and I’ve never been. So it’s always good to hear about it when people have an amazing time there.

  • Kristi

    Welcome back! A vacation is always necessary, even though we rarely take them. Italy is on my list too.

  • Moz

    Yay! Nice to have you back. And thanks to Liz and Alyssa for being typically awesome xx

  • Jessie

    So glad to have you back!

  • elyse

    can i just be the first to say that bathing suit is fabulously awesome?

  • I missed you, Meg! However, I hope you weren’t kidding about keeping Liz and Alyssa around a little longer (if they can stand us). It was really fun having voices of reason in the comments who offered a different perspective than the author of the post.

  • Meg

    Welcome back! I definitely yearn to travel, and plan on doing as much of it as possible in my upcoming marriage. It’s so inspiring to see and read about you living out your dreams. Thank you for sharing.

  • Damn girl!

    Lovin that picture.

  • liz

    i will overcome my jealousy for long enough to tell you your bathing suit is hot.

    but that’s all.

  • ElfPuddle

    Italy is where my other half proposed. I’m glad you enjoyed it. (Italy, not his proposal.)

    Also, I’m glad you’re feeling happy again. Hooray for vacations!

  • Your swim suit is adorable.

  • We also went to Italy on a “we’ll travel now” trip in June. Naples and the area around there. I am so glad we did because, even though the timing was not ideal for me, we had a fabulous time and now have fun shared memories and good new stories that have already been enjoyable to recall and laugh about. There is research that says that the perceived enjoyment of spending money on experiences is higher than spending money on physical objects. They say it is because over your life, you can continue to reflect on “that time we went to Italy and we….” :)

    Welcome back! :)

  • Welcome home, Meg :)

  • Welcome back! We have to chat about Italy. We’ve been back 6 weeks but most of the time we’re still there… Sigh…

  • KristieB

    Welcome back, gorgeous!

    Liz and Alyssa were amazing. Can we keep ’em? Can we? Can we?

    • Maybe they could help you full time and then you could focus on the other fun stuff more…
      Since they’re already here and all.

    • DamnGina

      Second! They did a bang-up job and I’m personally pro anything that increases the proportion of sassy, post-writing, introspection vs. the moments of FITTED SHEETS ARE THE DEVIL for you!

      So glad to hear you returned rested, renewed, and with a blown mind. There is no blue like the Mediterranean and Venice is (in my highly biased opinion) the greatest city in the world to visit when your in love. I hope we have the privilege of hearing more stories and seeing more amazing pics along with the normal APC content.

  • Marina

    This may be weird, but hearing about your fabulously relaxing week makes me feel better about my own unfabulously unrelaxing week. I’m so glad you had an awesome vacation and can now share the awesome pictures and thoughts with us. :)

  • yum….craving gelato right now…

    we love you! (in a not-weird, stranger danger you just say all the right stuff even when its wrong way)

  • Agreed, hot bathing suit. And yay! Welcome back.

    I’m really excited to see what expansion APW takes on… possibly with the lovelies who were with us, and possibly more!

  • Alyssa

    Is it wrong that I pictured you spending your entire vacationon a Vespa , riding around saying “Ciao…”?
    Just checking.

    So glad you had an amazing time and so glad you’re back!

    • Alyssa

      AND, by the way, totally inspired by your lists. I’d never heard of it before and now I want one!

      Dammit, woman, I actually planned on doing WORK at work today!

    • ddayporter

      was that an Eddie Izzard reference on purpose..? if so, I heart you even more now.

  • ka

    welcome back! if you mean what i think you mean by “threatening flasher” i had the same thing happen to me at a park in venice. one of the scariest moments of my whole time studying abroad, but now one of the best stories. life is funny like that. :)

    (and that bathing suit is perfetto for the Mediterranean. so sophia loren.)

  • Class of 1980

    The Mediterranean water sounds blissful. The pebbles too. I have been dying to see it for a long time. The only way I get to see it now is from a painting by an Italian artist I had to have.

    Reminds me of a conversation with a friend from Ojai, California. Until I met him, I didn’t know the Pacific ocean is cold in California. I grew up in Florida where the water is warm because of the Gulf Stream. BTW, the best beaches in Florida are in the Panhandle; especially Destin. Sugar white soft sand that is pure quartz washed down from the Appalachians and crystal clear emerald water.

    And you are RIGHT to travel NOW. I just read one of the very best articles on happiness I ever read. They said that “experiences” bring us the most happiness because it takes our minds a very long time to absorb them. Whereas when we buy something new, our minds are done with it rather quickly.

  • april

    Welcome back, lady! Thrilled to hear you and David had a lovely holiday. Italy is pure magic, isn’t it? And the Med – yes yes yes – swimming in it is divine. It’s been 7 years since I was last in Italy and I cannot wait until me and the hubs can return!

    Enjoy easing into the week and take your time getting back to APW. We’ll be here! xoxo

  • Welcome back, Meg! Glad your cup was filled during vacation. I was honeymoonin’ while Liz and Alyssa were at the wheel, so I’ll have to catch up and read all of the APW drama and loveliness of which you speak.

    And thanks for this: “These last two weeks were everything a vacation should be: restorative, mind expanding, stressful, and intense.”

    …Because I was wondering if it’s normal to have had a “National Lampoon’s Vacation” kind of experience on your honeymoon like we did!

  • Goals list is one of my favorite things ever–practical and dreamy all at once.

    Yay Italy! So glad it was good for you. Welcome back!

    *And can I say I want to kick the people who were mean to Liz/Alyssa in the shin a tiny bit? Not that they can’t stand up for themselves, of course, but still…*

  • I heard about making life lists in 2002 and it was suggested to make a list of five things to accomplish in the next year. So that’s what I do now instead of resolutions. It’s why I learned to belly dance. It’s why I hiked to the top of a mountain. It’s why I got one graduate degree and am working on another. It’s why I’ve read a lot of the books I’ve read. I love my lists. Good for you for crossing things off your list.

  • Welcome home! You do look fab in that bathing suit! Do you think that by writing out 100 things you’d like to do that you are more likely to do them? And, does it seem a little overwhelming to have that many things on the list even if you have until you’re old and gray? I’m very interested to hear more about this list business.
    Also, we are going to Florence in the spring. Do you recommend anything in particular?

    • meg

      Let me put it this way, in December 2004, I wrote down my first Mondo Beyond list of all the wildest I-was-afraid-to-even-write-them-down dreams I had. I think it was a list of 8 things or so. BIG stuff. You know, the things you really really really want, not like “Do more yoga” and “read more books” or whatever other goals I had that year. I think as of now, I’ve done (or am in the process of doing) every single one of them, except have a baby (not quite up for that one yet).

      Crazy, right? So, yes. I think when you write your dreams down and say “I will do these things somehow,” it forces you to recognize them (not sweep them under the rug), and over time you make them happen. Sometimes it’s conscious, sometimes unconscious, but they happen. The funny thing is how FAST they happen. I heard someone say that human’s really underestimate what we can accomplish in the short term (in a day or a week) and really underestimate how much we can accomplish in the long term (like five years). I think this is VERY true. Mostly, I think the exercise makes you give up your (limited and inaccurate) ideas of what’s possible for yourself.

      As for my 100 goals, it’s always a little in flux, and I HOPE I have things on it when I’m 80. I mean, it would be pretty boring if I didn’t have anything left, right? But really, I have lots of things on that list that I probably won’t get for a long long time. And I’m cool with that. It just gives me a sense of where I’d like to be headed, which REALLY helps me.

      • OK – that’s it. My hubs and I are now going to write lists (each separately) and then compare notes. I’m curious what’s on his. And excited to try to make them happen! Thanks for the inspiration! :)

        • meg

          We did this as a pre-martial exercise (self assigned). Awesome stuff.

    • meg

      Just stay longer in Florance than we did. It’s a great little town. We spent too long in Rome and not enough time in Florance (or on the coast, but don’t get me started on that, I might cry a little ;) I want to live there forever and ever ane ever amen.)

    • kahlia

      Things to do in Florence:
      1. Hang out with me (I’m the Kyla she mentioned above!)
      2. Gelateria dei Neri (especially the green apple and pink grapefruit flavors)
      3. Gelateria La Carraia (especially the chocolate & hazelnut-chocolate)
      4. See David at the Accademia
      5. Have a bistecca a la Fiorentina
      6. Wander around and marvel at the architecture and the “feel” of the city

  • and. why are people so mean-spirited? I don’t get it!

  • Now I’m dreaming of a vacation in Italy . . .

    Welcome back!

  • Lovely to have you back. Sounds like you guys had exactly the trip you both needed and deserved. xoxo

  • Welcome back!

  • Coming back refreshed is the best, no? And I love your bathing suit. And I loved the addition of Liz and Alyssa.

  • Melissa

    sexy suit!

  • I feel totally inspired to travel after reading this– can’t wait to start on my own list!

  • So happy to hear your trip was everything and more for you. You deserved a major break after all that’s been going on in your lives. Yay for relaxation and contemplation! And welcome back!

  • Oh yay! Glad you guys got much-deserved relaxation time. (And, selfishly, glad to have you back…)

  • Yehey! Welcome back! And I think you really did enjoy your break!

  • ohhh…
    I am SO with you on the “F*ck it, lets travel now” thing. Only, we are travelling next year. Since we can afford to get all the way around the globe to Europe and I have never been before, we are going now, while we can afford it and dont have kids.
    I am so excited!
    Thanks for reminding me of why we have that dream together :)

  • Yay! I’m glad the trip was everything you hoped for! (Except Rome, but who needs them anyway?) I think the things you’re feeling at the end of that trip are exactly the things that one should feel after a great vacation. :)

    And to everyone else: yes! Travel! For me, it’s the best way to spend our money. My partner and I live in Italy because we decided that now was the time, before we had kids or a mortgage. So he’s perfecting his Italian (he had a head start: he’s Spanish!) and I’m learning from scratch, and we’re just enjoying being here now. Plus, of course, there’s gelato!

    • meg

      PS, she’s the one who took us out for the best gellato we had. She knows of what she speaks.

  • I’m so glad that you enjoyed the visit to my country and that it helped you to check one of the things in your list. And I’m happy to hear that many other APW readers have nice memories of Italy or have chosen it as their honeymoon destination.
    I have the same attitude towards traveling. My boyfriend (or should I call him Future Husband?^^) and I live together and are always on a budget, but we are pretty much used to saving and renouncing, but there’s one thing we don’t want to give up and that’s travelling (and I mean travelling, not being simple tourists). People sometimes give us strange looks when we tell them about our trips, probably wondering how we can afford to spend money and time on that, but they don’t realize how much stuff we don’t buy or spend money on (like let’s say cigarettes, clothes, big car and so on), in order to be able to leave. It’s a question of priority, I think. Everyone chooses his/hers.

  • ddayporter

    yay welcome back! Liz and Alyssa took really good care of us. :)

    sounds like your trip was everything it needed to be. I have a list over at but will have to look into those others you linked to. it’s amazing how effective lists are at getting you to finally DO the things you’re dreaming about.

    • ddayporter

      woops that’s

  • I must also say how pleased I am that you were not twittering and such from your vacation. It just makes me laugh how many people have to update facebook or twitter while they are on their honeymoon or other vacations.