Finding the Real Sylva Lining

Occasionally, a trip to Southeast Asia with four other people blows your world apart. Other times, at least five feet of snow arrives with the same heaviness of reality (and months later it’s drier than a popcorn fart). Either way, you can fight it or you can go with it, and the latter is the winning ticket.

Turns out sometimes even when you’re convinced about something — you can be flat-out wrong. This goes for life in general and for our opinion of “soulless” Vang Vieng, Laos. Those are the first sentences of the last blog I wrote. Since then, my blog has been quieter than Arapahoe Cafe this morning before all the gapers, er, tourists arrived en masse having suffered the same fate (Daylight Saving).

For those of you who somehow managed to dodge the dozen or so posts expounding upon the SE Asia adventure, Tyler, Lisa, Kate, Anne and I completed a long bike tour in Thailand, Vietnam and Laos. And what an adventure it was! During the last few charmed days of our journey, my good, strong, incredible Italian friend Lisa and I were sitting on a busy street outside of Phonepaseuth Guesthouse in Vientiane (the modern capitol of Laos, the 58th poorest country in the world if we’re to believe Global Finance Magazine). We were munching on bakeries from a French-inspired cafe down the road, killing time.

“The Universe always gives you what you need,” said Lisa and that simple, profound statement adhered to me like sticky rice to my thigh.

Truly, the Universe teaches hard lessons with razor-sharp edges because sometimes, things have to change.

The truth is lately, I haven’t written because the adventure I’m on this time isn’t a romp across Europe where the only goal is to ride off last night’s wine, or an arresting, thigh-busting jaunt across the hinterlands of Southeast Asia or a backyard bender on fat skis in a pristine avalanche path. No — these would be my normal, beloved adventures. The one I’m on now is in the landscapes of the heart, in the fissures created when it breaks and the fantastic new worlds those fissures lead to.

But how do you write about the heart, when it makes you feel like an ant lost in a bowl of jello (that’s to say, quite vulnerable)? It’s difficult to be vulnerable in a world where we have two selves — the one online or the one we present, all smiles and carefully selected pictures in exotic locales and becoming light. Our other selves, the ones that lay awake at night with a niggling concern about the direction of our lives, the ones paying bills working at gas station while dreaming of Olympic gold — these are our quiet selves. It’s hard to reconcile the two; but difficult times are perfect fodder for gems like reconciliation, forgiveness, new beginnings and other things that belong on cat posters.

As they say, difficult times call for difficult measures — like buying myself flowers because self-care is real and flowers aren’t just for meadows and lovesick Valentines. Fortunately, some of these measures also lead to springs of goodness that couldn’t be unearthed any other 2(11)

Like painting a picture (and first finding the oil paints I didn’t even know I had anymore…)IMG_2276

Or a little musical dabbling on the piano that’s started to head a bit south of in tune…

After all this creativity gushes from me like all the coffee I accidentally brewed onto the counter at Blue Moon last week, I wonder, now what? I light a candle, draw a bath, put on some cello music and just sit there with my wine. Maybe I’ll just hide out for a while longer, I think (because sometimes cats just don’t want to come out of bags).

Oh no you don’t, says a small voice from somewhere beneath the floorboards. Or is it above the creaky old roof?

I wonder if perhaps I should cover myself. Who’s there? I say, to no one in particular. I feel, alone in this big ol’ house, that I may finally have lost it. So I pour myself a bit more wine, just for good measure.

Time for you to put it all out there, says the voice from somewhere behind the toilet which, like usual, is making weird gasping noises because it’s really, really old. It’s some sort of medium-sized miracle it only occasionally drips on the floor underneath the valve and the rest of the water stays inside to be flushed halfheartedly.

You’re being a big f*cking chicken, says the voice and this time it’s from inside my wine glass — and what a mouth!

But weirder things have happened than this voice; it’s either the Universe or my intuition but whatever it is, it hasn’t been wrong in months. Lately, it’s been telling me to put my quirky, artsy, word-smithy-ness back online and get on with my life, authentically.


It’s like the Buddha said, “Do you think this wouldn’t happen to you?” I don’t claim to be Buddhist or even to have tripped and fallen into a church in years (except for with my Dad over the holidays because hanging out with Dad is the bees’ knees). But I appreciate the calm Buddhist outlook after walking in quiet reverence around countless statues in Southeast Asia (ones small as me or easily confused with a Buddha-shaped movie screen).

So, in the end — after finding the nearest psychological facilities too expensive on a waitress’ salary — I have found the courage to say it to everyone: after many years and many adventures with Tyler, I am free. We’ve split up — it’s official and has been for awhile now. I know it’s strange — but no stranger than electing a president whose coloring matches a rotten mandarin orange. Life, as I keep saying, is cray-cray. This new journey I’m on is that wild, wonderful, soul-crushing, rib-busting, inspiring, unpredictable thing called life.

One of the more beautiful things about life is the more struggles you endure, the more magical everything else becomes. And the more you’re open to the Universe, the more beauty there is to find in the smallest, strangest and most wonderful places…

photo 1(10)
Thanks little yogi in a cup.

So why would I be a writer and be on the Strugglebus if not to put the two together like a grilled ham and cheese? And, to sandwich this metaphor with another, perhaps even hand it off to a stranger in hopes it nourishes them. So here’s to that… truth-wich.

Stay tuned to me and the Universe! There’s much more to this story 🙂

p.s. I will be traveling again this spring to somewhere I’ve never, ever been before: Italy! Now those of you that know me can laugh and roll your eyes.

Veremente, I’ll be returning to my old grape-stomping grounds in Faenza solo style, so look forward to more blogs where the goal is to ride off last night’s Sangiovese hangover…

7 Replies to “Finding the Real Sylva Lining”

  1. Thank you for sharing that, Sylva. You have a lot of people who care – like us!
    Lynn and Bob

    1. You’re welcome Bob and Lynn, you two are truly special to me 🙂 Thanks for being there!!

  2. Sylva. I’ve had the privilege of getting to see you grow and change through many seasons of life. Consistent throughout each season, something that is core to you, one of the things I’ve loved about you, have been inspired and challenged in the best way by, has been your authenticity. Your courage and willingness – and sometimes endearing obstinance! – to be exactly who and how you are. You are a beautiful, blazing warrior-poet. This weighty, life-filled post is just a smidgen given of the brave heart that beats in your chest. Thank you so much for sharing it!

    Remember this, dear friend: you’ve left lasting footprints in the places you’ve walked.

    And your song? Amazing. : )

    Sending so much love your way!!!

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