Terreeia has been bugging me about Instagram for months, but I haven’t quite gotten the hang of it. For a while, I’ll be really diligent about it, and then months will go by and…
When we went to Italy I decided, This is easy! I’ll be in the most fabulous place in the world, the place that’s on everyone’s bucket list. This will be it: the moment when I’ll become an Instagram superstar.
I still believe that we should all pick one social network that we think we could be really good at, and then stick with it! Learn everything you can about it (like I did about blogging when I first started) and crush it. But I digress.
Here’s what happened:
So I’m in Italy, and every day—as soon as we sit down for lunch or dinner—I pull out my phone and post a photo or two on Instagram.
And then, of course, I’m following the feed and looking at all these totally perfect pictures of picture-perfect lives. And because I’ve never been able to stop comparing myself to everyone else who’s doing something better than me… even though I’m on this dream vacation having a well-deserved cocktail in some fabulous Italian cafe…I start to notice that I’m a teeny, tiny bit cranky.
That I’m not at a fabulous book launch party with 20 of my closest friends, including all the who’s who in the industry.
That I don’t have a fabric or furniture line.
And the list goes on.
Our room in Verona
When I came back from Italy, I felt really behind. The reason we even booked this trip to begin with this year was that I joined a Mastermind group and was asked the question, “Why are you doing all this? Maria, I see you’re pretty successful at what you’re doing, and that you work really hard and long hours. What’s it all for?”
Since I don’t have kids, I can’t say it’s for them like the rest of you can. So I said, “Well, I want to travel. I want to go to Italy, for example.”
And he said, “Good. Your homework for the next four months is to find 5 hours a week where you do more things you love to do. And book a trip to Italy.”
So that’s what I did.
Here’s what I learned about myself on our three-week trip:
Atmosphere is really important—even over really amazing food.
When people ask me what kind of food I want to eat, I say, “I don’t care. They can make vegetarian food anywhere. What’s the atmosphere like?”
For example, I love sushi, but I don’t eat it very much because I don’t like the decor in most sushi restaurants.
Terreeia and I were almost at the two-week point of our trip when we arrived in Florence. And we did not have dinner reservations, so that first night, we walked along, looking for a restaurant.
By now, Terreeia is used to going into a restaurant with me. She will mostly wait at the front while I’m being seated because more often than not, I’ll ask to be moved to a better table. She’d rather wait until she knows WHERE we are sitting, or even IF we are staying.
This happened a lot during the two weeks we ate out in Italy.
That evening, we walked into a restaurant that was almost empty (but it was early). I was enchanted. I was staring at the light fixtures trying to figure out how I could take a good picture so I could show you, while Terreeia asked if they had a table for two available.
The hostess said yes, and we walked right through this enchanting and lovely restaurant into another room, where a large group of about 10 diners was gathered at a boardroom-style table. This room had two tables of two alongside the noisy group.
I took one look and said, “No.” Then I turned around and walked out.
The hostess looked at Terreeia and said, “Maybe you’ll want to come back later and sit at the bar?”.
Our breakfast room in Verona
Terreeia was SO MAD. I could barely keep up with her as she stormed ahead of me down the street. Finally, when we had found a table at another restaurant I said, “Really, Honey? You don’t tell people you have a table when you’re taking them to THAT kind of table. You let them know in advance what their choices are because, clearly, it’s Saturday night and you’re basically full.”
“You’re right,” she said. “But this musical chairs you play at EVERY restaurant is getting old.”
“I know, and I’m sorry, but I AM a designer. It comes with the territory.”
Stay calm and read all the Instructions.
We hired a travel agent to book our trip for us. We rented a car for the week we were in Tuscany, and she had given us detailed instructions on exactly where to go to return it when we arrived in Florence.
But we had a lot of paper. Terreeia had stapled each set of instructions outlining where we were staying and which restaurants to eat at in each city. I was the navigator while she drove.
We followed the signs to the airport, except when we arrived, there was clearly no car rental return desk there.
We drove around in circles trying to figure it out. 11:00am was when it had to be back, and it was now 10:48am. Terreeia kept telling me to look through the papers AGAIN while I swore I was holding nothing useful.
At one point, I screamed at the top of my lungs in the car. It’s what I do when I completely lose my mind and feel like I have no control over a situation. Some people throw things. I scream.
Then Terreeia said, “We did see the sign once but kept going. Maybe we need to turn right instead of going straight like last time.”
Five minutes later, we were back at the rental agency, and that’s when I found the entire page of detailed instructions from the travel agent about the complicated route to return a car to the Florence airport.
That afternoon, when we arrived in our room, my ear hurt really badly. I randomly get this pressure, usually in my entire ear. Just touching it is excruciating. Usually, I just insert a few drops of 3% hydrogen peroxide in my ear and I’m fine, but this time I had to take Advil before the pain went away.
I thought I had an epiphany that day and wondered if maybe the pain I sometimes get in my ears has something to do with my screaming. It fits, but it happened again yesterday, and it was a perfectly calm Sunday. (Any insights you have would be great! I have had it checked out, and the doctor says there’s nothing wrong.)
It’s funny. I can’t remember being such a screamer until I started this blog and it turned into a real business. The first time my site shut down because I had a large spike in traffic, I lost my mind again. In fact, I remember I had a sore throat for two months after that. I was alone in the house when it happened, and I probably screamed about three or four times because I was so mad that there was nothing I could do to fix it.
Now that I have learned that these are just the things that happen when you have your business in the sky vs. a bricks-and-mortar location, I’m calmer when there’s a breakdown.
Nice hotel rooms are even more important.
The last three nights of our trip to Italy ended in Venice (above).
When we were looking at hotels in Venice, Terreeia told me about the Ruzzini Palace hotel that friends of hers had LOVED. When I mentioned it to our travel agent, she said, “Well, if you’d like to stay there, go ahead and make a reservation.”
At that point, I felt loyal to her because she had booked our entire trip so I said, “If you can find us the equivalent to that hotel, I’m fine with that.”
When we arrived at the hotel in Venice and walked into the lobby, my heart sank. It was a dump. We got our key and were delivered to our room, and it was even worse.
Lately, Terreeia has implored me to take five deep breaths and count to ten when I get upset and start to lose my temper. So far, it has not worked.
I basically turned on my heel and went back to the front desk, where I said, “I am not staying in this dump.” Next, I called my travel agent (it was 7:00am Westcoast time), and screamed at her to fix it.
Just to be clear, we had PAID for a luxurious hotel room. Obviously, I would not have been upset had we booked it ourselves because we would have known in advance what we were getting.
She moved us to one of the nicest hotels in Venice (above).
That experience ruined Venice for me. I spent the next three days feeling bad that I had lost my temper and trying to figure out how to never do it again.
The rooftop restaurant where we had breakfast each morning
I hate it so much that I don’t have control over my temper. I lose all my power at the same time, and suddenly it makes me look like I’m the bad guy, like I was somehow responsible for ending up in that crappy hotel instead of the travel agent, who was clearly trying to make more money by sticking us there.
I have never been on this kind of vacation. It seems like I travel a lot but most of it is for business. Being away about 5 weeks with the week at home in between Italy and Disneyland really brought this stuff to a head for me.
I still don’t know how to fix it but I really wanted to share with you because I truly am tortured about it and I always get enlightened by your advice.
I’d like to wrap this up with a lovely little, “Look, here’s where I was and now here I am fixed, but that’s not the case so I’ll just say I’m grateful that I was able to go on this trip of a lifetime this summer and that you came along with me.