I was nearly at the top of the mountain pass I drive up to get to Lucca, when out of (seemingly) nowhere, I was headed for the barrier between the road and…the mountain. I managed to escape unscathed but for a scratch on my finger but it was a good reminder to breathe and just keep paying attention. Like any new skill, you need to just keep practising. You’ll see the Italians either on the phone or sending voice messages through WhatsApp (a national past-time second only to sweeping and watching soccer) while driving. Don’t do it: it’s illegal, and dangerous.Read More
Hi I’m Athanae. Welcome to my blog. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve loved forms of creative expression, including dance and writing. Growing up, I thought I’d be a ballerina…but somehow I ended up at law school instead (!) After a little bit of travel in Europe and a decade of working in the super high-pressure environments of journalism and federal politics I found myself completely disconnected from the person I knew I was as a kid - before I learned what I should be doing; before my perfectionist tendencies kicked in. By my late twenties, I was stressed to the max and suffering chronic illnesses, trying to work a full-time job, run a business (that’s another story), and keep the rest of my life going too. It was impossible. After many, many months of soul searching (that included some very bad drawings in my journal of what I wanted my life to look like…) and a village of family and friends supporting me I gently allowed myself to start coming back to the things I loved doing. I decided to take the first step by going back to movement, starting with training as a barre teacher (it’s kind of like ballet, right?) I subsequently trained to teach yoga and pilates too.
The next few years were tumultuous to say the least. Change isn’t easy: it requires hard decisions and commitment - and not everyone will come on the journey with you. But if you lead with your heart, you can’t go wrong.
I started learning my ‘first’ second language, Italian, when I was five. That set me on a path I’m still travelling today, with homes on two west coasts: Tuscany, and Western Australia. I work mainly as a freelance writer and yoga and pilates teacher - skills I can take with me wherever I go and can find a wifi connection.
I’ve been accused of oversharing my personal life (probably true…) but whenever I publish something heartfelt, or that I know is tapping into a bigger conversation, unmet need or unwanted feeling among the community of women I share my life with (both online and offline), the messages and responses I get tell me I’m doing the right thing. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that we need to take life less seriously anyway…so what’s a little vulnerability between me and all of you?
Whenever I could in those months I’d get a bus – with or without my friend Clare – and go *somewhere else* and that’s where the magic was, up and out of Florence, where shopkeepers didn’t roll their eyes and reply in English to our dodgy Italian and where I didn’t have to pretend I didn’t understand English to avoid American tour groups. (‘But today we’re supposed to be in Florence. This is Firenze – what have we got wrong?’)
Once we were out of the city people looked kindly on us speaking the language. Old men in suits in bars bought us espresso and joked they were going to marry us. We walked and walked and got sunburnt and talked about life and drank wine and then as the sun looked like it might disappear we made sure we were on our way back to Firenze.
My Grandad’s cousin Romy had grown up in Perth but in her 30s decided to move ‘back home’ to a place she’d never known as her own home, just that of her parents, in Sondrio, right on the border with Switzerland.
All the puzzle pieces had been there in the past, and had I touched on them all. It was like I’d been circling, dancing around the edges for years. But until now, the timing hadn’t been right to create the picture. But enough now, it’s time to make the leap and see what happens.Read More
Just a hint of chilli is nearly too much for my father-in-law. My mother-in-law though, is borderline obsessed with curry, especially the very fashionable turmeric, which has even made its way into some varieties of foccacia, giving it a bizarrely un-foccacia-like hue I’d call ‘highlighter yellow’. Last night at the dinner table my husband was dropping Tabasco directly on my tongue, so you know where I stand.
When I asked him exactly how you’d describe a ‘hot’ woman, ‘bella’ was his answer.
‘I expected something a bit more creative,’ I said.
The guy at the petrol station said ’Ciao bella’ to me after I gave him 10 euro for fuel. It’s not exactly…spicy.
Anyway the reason I asked him in the first place is because there was a bit of controversy in town this week.
And far from being about women, it’s about chilli.Read More
‘Can you watch Giulio for a second?,’ his dad says. One of my best friends in Australia has a son born a day after him: they are both obsessed with climbing at the moment. I have a soft spot for Giulio too: he looks exactly like my sister did when she was little. He runs away from me, chasing the cat. I pick him up, put him on my hip and stop to look around. My mind flashes back to New Year's Eve, standing in this spot with sparklers, drinking prosecco from plastic cups. simultaneously wondering how I ended up here and knowing it’s exactly where I belong. My mind flashes back to New Year's Eve, standing in this spot with sparklers, drinking prosecco from plastic cups, wondering what the next 12 months would bring.Read More
Just don't make the mistake of thinking you can jump like a ninja off the third tier of a bunk bed at midnight when you realise you've left some crucial item in your suitcase. You'll crash into a drunk German guy called Felix, probably (I did, anyway).Read More
This swing between Italy and Australia that we’ve put ourselves on means at times we might not feel at home in any one place. But I reckon there’ll be times we feel completely at home in two places as well, and I hope that we can have the flexibility, compassion and generosity with one another, with our families, our friends, and our vastly different but equally breathtaking environments (hello, Western Australia and Tuscany!) to be fully appreciative and conscious of what we’ve been given, and what we have to give. And that’s a lot.Read More