Rach In Rome – Day 4, Pantheon & Trevi Fountain

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Salve! (That means “hello” in Italian…I’m pretty much a local now.)

My morning started with a visit to Eurgym, and I have to say I felt extremely comfortable there. It’s amazing that a gym thousands of miles away from my home gym felt like home. I was in my element.

After some squats, I washed up and jumped on the metro to see the Pantheon. Actually, I took the metro, got off at the Colosseo station, and took a bus to the Pantheon. I love walking the streets of Rome. There is so much to see, and there are so many old buildings…it’s like nothing I’ve ever seen in my life.

As I rounded the corner (using the navigational app Rio2Rome as recommended to me by some fellow tourists…and extremely helpful), there it was. The Pantheon, in the middle of a large square, surrounded by old buildings and restaurants. The square was swarming with people, and at the front of the square was the Fontana del Pantheon. The columns of the Pantheon were so majestic, and the building felt like it had a spirit of its own. It was an amazing sight to see and experience. Once I walked inside the Pantheon, I looked up and watched clouds drift by in the bright blue sky through the circle in the ceiling. It was so beautiful. I walked around the inside of the building, looking at the religious statues and paintings and reading the plaques. I didn’t get the audio tour, so I didn’t get to hear about the history of the building but that was okay.

Next, I walked toward Trevi Fountain. Again, this landmark jumped right out at me as I rounded a corner. Bam! Right in the middle of nowhere, stands this gorgeous fountain. Crowds of people covered the stairs as people took pictures and threw coins over their shoulder as they made a wish. I did the same.

I favored the Pantheon over the Trevi Fountain and decided to have lunch there. I had a salad with tuna, shrimp, tomatoes, olives, and carrots. I extended my lunch with an espresso. Although I’m pretty sure the restaurant favored tourists, I didn’t care because I had a wonderful view of the Pantheon the entire time. I loved being in awe of those massive columns and thinking about the people who built them. There was just something about the building that had an impact on me. The Pantheon is so old, and so majestic, and has stood for centuries as time has continued on.

My last stop before heading back home was gelato. I stopped by a place I saw on Yelp called Il Gelato di San Crispino. I picked out one scoop of pistachio and one scoop of hazelnut, and sat on the fountain stairs and enjoyed it while staring at the columns of the Pantheon (I might be a little obsessed).

This trip to Rome is a dream come true. It hasn’t been perfect, and I’ve had doubts about myself and been in disbelief that I actually am doing this, but pushing past all of those doubts and fears has been 100% worth it.

Tomorrow I am doing a group tour of the Vatican and St. Peter’s square, followed by pizza!

Ciao!

 

 

Rach In Rome – Day 3, Colosseum

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Day 3 – Roma, Italy

I started my day at 6:30am and did not get the best night’s sleep (maybe the jet lag kicked in?)

I was excited for my tour. I made an espresso, had some oatmeal and protein powder, and was out the door in 30 minutes. I made sure to leave plenty of time to get on the metro and arrive early for my tour.

For once, my directions were spot-on. I met up with the group and started chatting with a lady from the U.S. (east coast). It was nice to actually have a conversation with someone. We chatted about our families, swapped pictures, and shared our experiences in Rome so far.

Once we broke off into our groups, the tour began. Our tour guide was amazing! We started off in the Colosseum and ended at the Roman Forum. It was breathtaking to be in such a historic place. I loved hearing about the politics of Rome, and seeing the pictures of how the buildings stood in history, with the complete columns and marble covered walls compared to the ruins they have become. I really liked hearing the stories of the emperors and the dictators.

My favorite part was hearing about the House of the Vestal Virgins. The daughters of Rome’s emperors were selected to live in the house, from as early as age 6. They were housed away from the public, and were very powerful. Legend had it that if someone were sentenced to death, and on the way to their execution happened to pass by a vestal virgin and she looked them in the eye, they would not be executed. The women were to live as virgins until age 30, and after that they could choose to leave or to stay. Most, however, stayed. If a vestal virgin had sex, the man they had sex with was immediately killed, and the vestal virgin was buried alive, because they were not allowed to be killed. No vestal virgin blood could ever be spilled.

After the tour ended, I rushed to the metro to La Carbonara, and then realized I didn’t even really need to take the train and could have walked. Failed directions again. Needless to say, it gave me more time to take in the city.

I was seated next to another solo diner, and after I found out he spoke English I introduced myself. His name was Kevin and he was from Toronto, Canada. How lucky for me! I actually get to chat some more. I ordered the spaghetti carbonara, along with the chicken and mushrooms dish. The pasta was cooked al dente, with gooey cheese, butter, and sprinkled with crispy pancetta. Kevin ordered the mozzarella as an apetizer and he offered me a bite which I obviously could not refuse. It was so fresh and flavorful.

After I finished my lunch, I walked around a little bit and then hopped back on the metro to my flat. Today has been my favorite day so far, as I have seen many great sights, and been filled with gratefulness and awe.

Tomorrow, I’m planning to go to Eurgym for an early morning workout, followed by taking the train into Rome again to visit the Pantheon and the Trevi Fountain.

The Intent Behind “Liking” and “Following” Blogs

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Is blogging just a numbers game?

I’m fairly new to the blogging world, so maybe I’m just not sure how it works, or is supposed to work.

Do random people just show up and like or follow blogs because they are hoping the favor will be returned? Or do they genuinely appreciate the ideas that I’m sharing?

Don’t get me wrong, I truly appreciate each and every person who “Likes”, “Follows”, or leaves a comment on my blog. My question is in the intent. When someone likes my blog, and I click back to look at their blog, I’m always suspicious when they just started blogging last month but already have 67 people like each post and 1,842 followers. Not so coincidentally, most of the comments that people leave say, “Thank you for stopping by my blog.”

Is this a “drive-by” marketing technique? If it is, doesn’t it cheapen the real Likes, Follows, and Comments? Or is it just a community of people supporting each other? Let me know what you think.

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Should You Write What You Like to Read?

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I set a goal this year to outline a novel and to write six well-polished chapters. My struggle was deciding on what type of fiction to write. Naturally, the first place I turned to for advice was my best friend, Google, who told me that I should write the type of books that I like to read.

I felt uneasy about that advice, so I turned to the members of my LinkedIn group, “Aspiring Writers,” who told me the same thing.

That was a problem.

Most of the books that I read are thrillers or crime novels, but I wanted to write chick-lit. It was like I already knew the answer, but I was going to keep asking people until someone told me what I wanted to hear.

I got what I was looking for.

During my last writing group class, I asked my teacher what she thought. She told me that I should write what I want to write. Bottom line.

Chick-lit it is, I thought.

I got further confirmation when I read Kristen Lamb’s blog post about finding your voice. It was very helpful and I was reassured that I should write what comes naturally. That may or may not be my favorite genre to read.

I want to know:

Do you write what you like to read, or not?

Writing: Setting the Mood

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Image courtesy of http://boscafelife.wordpress.com/

What is your writing routine?

Although I’m usually excited to come home from my day job and start working on my writing, I still enjoy having certain routines in place to set the mood. I’m not complicated; just having Jazz music playing and a glass of water (or wine) will do the job. I also like to have freshly sharpened pencils.

Here are some ideas to help you develop your own writing routine, or to incorporate into your existing one:

  • Play music to help you focus
  • Light a candle
  • Meditate before you start
  • Set goals (i.e. “I will write 1,000 words a day.”) and post them where you can see them
  • Choose a location
  • Choose a time of day you would like to write, and try to stick to that

Here are some links for more ideas:

Please share your writing routine. What works for you? What have you tried that doesn’t work?

Dealing with Distractions – A Writer’s Worst Nightmare

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Distractions.

A writer’s worst enemy. They are everywhere, and hide themselves well. This blog, is in fact, a distraction from what I was working on – my fiction.

How do we, as writers, overcome distractions?

Last week, on Les Brown’s radio show, he had a guest who gave the advice to use a timer to deflect distractions. You set the timer to go off each hour, and when the timer goes off, you are supposed to evaluate what you are doing at that time, and if it is what you should be doing. This is supposed to help you become aware of your distractions.

I can see how this would help, but maybe it would be better to set it at twenty minute intervals.

My distractions include checking WordPress for comments, Facebook for updates, and Twitter for tweets. And if somebody posts an interesting link, there goes another 10 minutes down the drain.

What are your biggest distractions, and do you have any tips to share on staying focused? Leave a comment below.

Now, if this blog distracted you from what you should be doing, get back to work!

 

Writing Groups: The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly

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I just finished my first writing group. We met for eight weeks in a classroom at the Burbank Adult School. Every Wednesday we gathered around a large wooden table to critique each other’s writing, and listen to our own writing being critiqued.

The Good

The best part about joining a writing group was that we were required to complete a new piece of work weekly. As a beginning writer, that was great. Not only were we forced to complete a piece of work on a regular basis, but we also got an opportunity to get that work critiqued. That was a blessing, because we got to hear what our peers thought about our work, as well as what the teacher had to say, who had more writing experience.

Tip: Pick a writing group that requires new material each week, either through assignments or of your own creation.

The Bad

I remember a rhyme from my childhood: “First the worst, second the best, etc…”

The first class was indeed the worst, when I didn’t know what to expect. I was nervous that I would be joining a cast of seasoned writers who would show up with their portfolios of published work and expect me to be on their level. They would wear glasses on the tip of their noses as they looked down on me.

As I sat down and listened to introductions, I was pleasantly surprised when everyone there just wanted to write. Some had started writing books, and some had never written prose. There was a good mix.

Tip: Don’t be afraid to try a new class or join a writing group! There will be people there who could benefit from what you have to contribute.

The Ugly

The critiques were the ugliest part of the class. The first time my group discussed my story my face was warm and my pulse rate went up.

I eventually learned to enjoy the constructive criticism, because it helped me to become a better writer. It was ugly when the group did not say much about my piece. There were times when people stared at the table awkardly because they either didn’t have anything to say, didn’t know what to say, or were waiting for other people to say something. The best critiquing sessions were near the end of the writing group, when people felt more comfortable with each other.

Tip: Try to find at least one nice comment and one constructive comment about each paper that you critique. You will only be helping the members of your group and it will make the class more interesting.

What’s your experience with writing groups? If you want to join a group or take a class but haven’t, why?

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