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Somewhere in the dream

My Handsome, Strong Willed Warrior husband--Venice 2014

My Handsome, Strong Willed Warrior husband--Venice 2014

Somewhere in the dream we had an epiphany
Now we right the wrongs in history
No one can win the war individually
It takes the wisdom of the elders and young people's energy
Welcome to the story we call victory
Comin' of the Lord, my eyes have seen the glory         --John Legend "Glory" from the movie Selma

The Rev. Dr. James H. Hargett married us in 2005

The Rev. Dr. James H. Hargett married us in 2005

A picture is worth a thousand words, or so it is said...
In the Spring of 2005, a Dream came true for me and I married my wonderful, wonder-filled, handsome, hardworking husband, Bill.  William means:  "strong-willed warrior".  I'm always fascinated by names and how their meanings seem to "fit" a person almost always perfectly!  
warrior is defined as:  "a brave or experienced soldier or fighter."  He could not have been more perfectly named!

Not only did I marry an extraordinary man, our wedding was officiated by another extraordinary man: my husband's Uncle Jim--The Reverend Dr. James H. Hargett:   
 "Reverend Dr. James Hester Hargett, community advocate and civil rights activist, spent over forty years as a United Church of Christ pastor in churches located in the states of California, Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, and New York. His ministry focused on the recruitment of African Americans in Christian service and activities in the areas of community advocacy, education, human relations, mental health, and social justice..."

The Rev. Dr. James H. and Dr. Louilyn (Funderburk) Hargett with daughter, Hester Hargett-AuPetit June 2014

The Rev. Dr. James H. and Dr. Louilyn (Funderburk) Hargett with daughter, Hester Hargett-AuPetit June 2014

n 2013, The Mayor of Los Angeles, Eric Garcetti, appointed my husband to the Board of Commissioners of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP)--the largest municipal utility in the nation.  LADWP sponsored a remarkable event to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  At this ceremony, my husband had the honor as a commissioner and the privilege as a nephew,  to introduce his Uncle for his many years of tireless, selfless service to others, to his community, and to the civil rights for all.  His award reads:    
“Resolution    The Rev. Dr. James H. Hargett
WHEREAS, Rev. Dr. James H. Hargett has dedicated his life to the community and civil rights and has demonstrated his deep and genuine love for this city and this country through his continued involvement in numerous endeavors toward gaining equality for all citizens regardless of race, gender or color and
WHEREAS, Rev. Dr. James H. Hargett was active in numerous local efforts for civil rights; marched from Selma to Montgomery with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., served as the West Coast convener of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, helped found the Central City Community Mental Health Clinic for the poor…”
WARRIORS. 
This past Saturday, I had the distinct pleasure of accompanying my husband and our youngest daughter, Claire, to experience the movie SELMA.
"There are no words to soothe you".  For me, that single line in the movie is SO riveting, SO poignant, SO very real.  Civil Rights victories can definitely change the future; but, they can never undo the horrific past.

WARRIORS.
The Loving v. Virginia ruling of 1967 made it legal for my husband and I to marry just 38 years later in 2005.

"There is patently no legitimate overriding purpose independent of invidious racial discrimination which justifies this classification. The fact that Virginia prohibits only interracial marriages involving white persons demonstrates that the racial classifications must stand on their own justification, as measures designed to maintain White Supremacy ...
"The freedom to marry has long been recognized as one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men ... To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the racial classifications embodied in these statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, is surely to deprive all the State's citizens of liberty without due process of law. The Fourteenth Amendment requires that the freedom of choice to marry not be restricted by invidious racial discriminations. Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of another race resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by the State."--Chief Justice Earl Warren on the 1967 Loving v. Virginia ruling.
 

WARRIORS.
Looking back, the past 25 years or so can be seen as an extraordinary generation of societal change and gay-rights activism that soon may well culminate in same-sex marriage rights for all.  

Gay Marriage 2015

Gay Marriage 2015

My husband and I are polar opposites in many respects.  He loves chaos, I love order.  He loves to be late, I'm always early. He's the first born son with sisters and I'm the first born girl with brothers and a sister.  He sees the whole forest, I see the trees. He likes to save money, I have a propensity to spend it.  
We are both born under the sign of Leo.  Strong-willed WARRIORS.  
We both fight for the underdog.
We understand and respect people's differences.  
We just celebrated our 10th wedding Anniversary in Venice--the most dreamy, romantic, beautiful city in the world.  When we first met back in 1999, he gave me the first of many books: "The Art Book".  Inside, he inscribed these words: 
"To a wonderful, caring, sensitive and STRONG woman whose art, words, and letters have lifted me.  I hope this brings you JOY and something to think about as you ponder--and we ponder--life's endless connections and the wonder of art around us."
   

Uncle Jim with Martin Luther King, Jr. Selma to Montgomery 1965

Uncle Jim with Martin Luther King, Jr. Selma to Montgomery 1965

Somewhere in The Dream, we had an epiphany.
WARRIORS. 
William: My Hero.
Together, we march forward.
We are ALL connected.  

I can't believe the news today
I can't close my eyes and make it go away.
How long, how long must we sing this song?
How long, how long?
'Cos tonight
We can be as one, tonight.
 

CHILD OF LIGHT

Firenze, Italy as seen from atop the Campanile di Giotto

Firenze, Italy as seen from atop the Campanile di Giotto

I recorded the above sound byte from atop the Campanile di Giotto on November 1, 2014.  Every single time I hear the bells toll in Florence...or Venice...or anywhere, really, I get goosebumps.  The kind of goosebumps that are electric.  Like light or heat (or both) coursing through my veins. To climb the 414 stairs of this incredibly beautiful architectural wonder is astounding.  The steps grow more narrow as one ascends, allowing for only one person to proceed at a time--whether up or down.  The panoramic view of Florence from the top is truly breathtaking.  
To be inside the bell tower when the bells toll is one of the most incredible, moving experiences I have ever had.  
I've kept the bell toll recordings on my phone so I can return to Florence anytime I wish...at least in my dreams!
It was mid December 2014--the 18th to be precise--I was busy making our traditional Christmas lasagna (my beloved Dad's recipe) when UPS appeared at the gate with a package.  I knew it was the book I had recently ordered: "Memoirs of a Solo Traveler--My Love Affair with Italy" by Margie Miklas.  When I opened the familiar Amazon box, I got goosebumps!  The same kind of goosebumps I get when I hear those Campanile bells tolling. 
I had no idea then that Margie would become such a wonderful presence in my life.  
I opened the cover of her book, anxious to devour it's contents, and I froze.  I was overwhelmed by a number of feelings as I looked at the Introductory Pages: IV, V, and VI.  Those pages overflowed with GRATITUDE and GRACE.  Margie's beautiful book progressed with PASSION and FEELINGS and ended with the same Gratitude and Grace with which it began.
I learned as much about Margie as a person as I did about her travels through Bella Italia as I read her book.
In Persia, the name "Margie" means "Child of Light".
When I was perusing the thousands of photos from our recent visit to Italy, I happened upon the photo of Florence at night from atop the Campanile di Giotto and I got those same goosebumps all over again and thought: "THIS is exactly what Margie is like!"
LIGHT.  And SOUND.  
Gratitude. 
Grace.
Passion.
Feelings.
Margie is the Light of Twitterland!  She is truly like a spark caught in a palace of mirrors---scattering Grace, Gratitude, Passion, and Feelings far and wide.
Asking not a single thing in return.
Sharing.
Connecting.
Creating a beautiful matrix of Light--uniting souls all over the globe.
Another meaning of the name "Margie" is "pearl".
Our world IS the oyster.
Margie IS our pearl.
Since I met Margie in late December, she has showered me with kindnesses too numerous to mention.  Her LIGHT is so stunningly brilliant---making every soul she touches SHINE a little brighter.
"Grace is not part of consciousness; it is the amount of light in our souls, not knowledge nor reason"--Pope Francis

"MARGIE":  synonymous with 
Grace.
Light.
Passion.
Feelings.
...Knowing Margie is like being inside the bell tower, gazing out in wonder at the spiderweb of lights across Firenze, as the campanile bells toll.
I am so grateful for this new found friendship with such an amazing, gracious human being.  It is my wish that the Light she emits return to her millionfold...again...and again.

GRAZIE, MARGIE!  WE ALL LOVE YOU :)

GRAZIE, MARGIE!  WE ALL LOVE YOU :)

Solo La Gentilezza

Galleria degli Uffizi, Firenze, Italia  March, 2013

Galleria degli Uffizi, Firenze, Italia  March, 2013

Botticelli
Giotto
Carravaggio
Michelangelo
da Vinci
Raffaello
...The Masters of Italian Art
so many under one magnificent roof

...and these two native Italian men
dwarfed by colossal doors, windows, arches
the older gesticulating to the younger--
Humans contemplating life

[If I could tell the world just one thing
It would be that we're all ok
And not to worry 'cause worry is wasteful
And useless in times like these]

I was the last visitor to leave
The Uffizi that night
the grand cortile loomed dark and empty
save for these two gentlemen
and me
along with the ancients
in their niches along the portico
eternal gestures frozen in stone

[I won't be made useless
I won't be idle with despair
I will gather myself around my faith
For light does the darkness most fear]

As I strode the long corridor towards the two men
I was struck by the motion of their hands
the way they talked to one another with their bodies--
the earliest form of language?

One of my tiniest patients in the NICU...the day she discovered her thumb!

One of my tiniest patients in the NICU...the day she discovered her thumb!

 

[My hands are small, I know
But they're not yours, they are my own
But they're not yours, they are my own
And I am never broken]

The heels of my boots alerted the men to my approach
Both men paused and turned in my direction
I bid them both a cheerful Buonasera
...SOMETHING made me STOP.

[Poverty stole your golden shoes
It didn't steal your laughter
And heartache came to visit me
But I knew it wasn't ever after]

I extended my hand
First, to the older gentleman
He didn't simply shake it,
He held my hand in both of his
Wise, deep brown eyes pierced me 
and he spoke
"Bella e forte!  Molto belle mani!"

I understood.

But, how did he know?

"Strong and beautiful woman! Very beautiful hands!"

Time stopped:

solo la gentilezza

[My hands are small, I know
But they're not yours, they are my own
But they're not yours, they are my own
I am never broken]

Our interaction was so brief
yet timeless
my favorite moment
of my time in Florence
One of the most soulful compliments 
I've ever received
right there, in front of the Uffizi

Sacred.  Art.
Painters, sculptors, architects...the work of the artist's hands ...the history...
the feeling of being so small in the presence of things so grand so eloquent...so ancient

BEAUTIFUL
HANDS.

Each. Our Own.

[We are God's eyes
God's hands
God's mind
God's heart.--*lyrics by Jewel]

...In the end, ONLY kindness matters. 

solo la gentilezza

Dreaming of Venice: Begin at the beginning.

"...Una meraviglia--   a wonder--in the only city that makes you wish, while closing your eyes, to relive each moment just as it has appeared."  --Patrizia Gucci in   Dream of Venice 

"...Una meraviglia--a wonder--in the only city that makes you wish, while closing your eyes, to relive each moment just as it has appeared."  --Patrizia Gucci in Dream of Venice 

In late October 2014, just a couple of weeks before our planned excursion to Italy--Florence, Ravenna, and my beloved La Serenissima, I decided it was finally time to listen to our daughter and give Twitter a try.  
I typed a number of different names in the "Search" bar when I first signed on--many, if not all, having to do with Venice...or mosaics...
One of the very first books I purchased to teach myself the art of mosaics was a book written by JoAnn Locktov: Mosaic Art and Style--Designs for Living Environments.   

 

SO...I typed the name "JoAnn Locktov"  into the Twitter search bar and BOOM!  There she was! Again.  I learned that she, too, would be leaving for Venice in a couple of weeks.  I also learned that she was set to release another amazing book...this time, not about mosaics; rather, a book about VENICE! 
That very day, I went to Amazon and pre-ordered Dream of Venice.  The book was scheduled to be released on December 5, 2014--I thought: "what a perfect Christmas present to myself!"  
I continued to follow JoAnn on Twitter and reveled in the excitement as the book's release drew near. 
What happened in between is nothing short of miraculous!
Because of JoAnn's love of mosaics and her first book, I looked for her on Twitter.  
Because of Twitter, I was led back to JoAnn and her upcoming book about Venice.
Because of JoAnn, her books, and Twitter, with a magical trip to Italy smack in the middle of it all, I was led to a whole new Twitter world filled with Italophiles from around the globe that have truly INSPIRED me to follow my dreams and never, ever stop Dreaming of Venice (or Italy!).  
And so it is that I BEGIN AT THE BEGINNING of this New Year by sharing this story of how technology expanded my universe and brought a whole host of incredible, beautiful souls into my world--the kindest, most generous, beautiful Italophiles ever!  
And it all began with JoAnn and Dream of Venice.
Incidentally, even if you have never been to Venice, or if you dream of going there or you would just like to learn more about this magical city, PLEASE consider purchasing this absolutely stunning book--it is truly a WORK OF ART!  

DreamOfVenice

 
Here's what Amazon has to say about Dream of Venice: 

Dream of Venice captures the mysterious allure of the ancient floating city with the evocative photography of Charles Christopher and the beguiling words of a diverse group of contemporary Venetophiles. With a captivating foreword by bestselling author Frances Mayes, Dream of Venice will inspire you to listen to the silence of the canals and lose yourself in the ethereal mist of Piazza San Marco. The luminous photographs compliment the intimate thoughts, memories, poems and stories of notable contributors from the worlds of art, literature, design, cuisine, music, and filmmaking. You ll find anecdotes from actors and directors who have worked on location in Venice, including Woody Allen (Everybody Says I Love You), Linus Roache (The Wings of the Dove), and Julie Christie (Don t Look Now). A portion of the proceeds from each book will be donated to Save Venice, Inc. to support vital art and architecture restorations in La Serenissima.

I look forward to coming to this page on my website often: a space devoted to my love for BELLA ITALIA!   I've taken thousands of photos while exploring Italy and I would love to share the stories of them here.  
As to the Beginning of this new year:  I AM, indeed, Dreaming of Venice.  Still. 
I cannot wait to return again and again...
Until I can be there physically again,
I have my Dreams...
And
A VERY Beautiful Book: 

 DREAM OF VENICE by JoAnn Locktov  Photography by Charles Christopher and foreward by Frances Mayes.  
 Grazie, cara JoAnn!