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?
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
It feels like a million years (ok, ok, maybe a couple of months), since we undertook our six-day trek on the Via Francigena. So much has happened in the past few months that sometimes I struggle to wrap my head around it, and when that head is spinning, I have to remember why: between moving continents for the third time in 18 months, getting married, having friends and family here, Nicola launching his business, grasping again how to live in another country, another culture, with another language, trying to still make a living and retain and build my independence here (and deciding to cut up my credit card), teaching my first yoga retreat, wrangling with health issues and visas and…yeah you get the idea.Read More
In the wise words of my husband: you won’t die from eating pasta. Or my year ten health teacher: bread and toast are fine – it’s what you put on them that counts. If you don’t take my word for it, or his, or hers, read the science at The Lancet. It’s legit their job to publish only reputable info. What has worked better for me than radically cutting things out, has been to take a longer-term approach and focus on whole foods, stacking your diet full of plants, and then seeing what else you have room for. Living in Italy, I see nearly zero obese people. We don’t eat much meat. Our protein sources are legumes, and dairy (PS, when I said we don’t eat much meat, I mean when I’m craving a steak, I go and visit Elena, the meanest lady butcher around, for a t-bone).Read More
The reason I had to stop eating chocolate for a while? There were days I would eat a whole block. Or hide it in the pantry. Or have a block in my handbag. We laugh off ‘wine mums’ and ‘binging’ on a Friday night while we watch The Batchelor. Or The Batchelor in Paradise. I probably have the wrong show and the wrong day but I don’t have a TV, so I’m not that up in pop culture.
Either way - if you’re still reading after that confession, we normalise this sort of behaviour as if it were ok. It’s not. It’s not ok for our health and it’s not ok for our minds. And I reckon most of us know that, if we dig deep enough and are honest with ourselves. Binge is a pretty serious word, and alcoholism laughed off in memes isn’t funny.Read More
I guess coming to Italy forced me to face my food fears head on. You can’t escape it here. Food, produce and cooking are as integral to life as sleeping and spending time with family and outdoors, some of the other big-ticket priorities. Having distance from the cacophony in Australia around what good eating actually means, plus watching my family here so well, without becoming overweight or obese, crystallised what I’d been grappling to understand for so long (and also what I’d been resisting, because I’m nothing if not totally stubborn and a bit resistant to change, or admitting I’ve got things wrong).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
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