Friday, November 27, 2015

Thoughts this Thanksgiving 2015

I hope everyone had a wonderful and restful Thanksgiving! As I have written on all of my Thanksgiving blogs, this is my favorite holiday of the year. And even though we had not grandiose plans this year it still was one of my favorite days of the year.

It really doesn’t matter what political party you follow or religious affiliation you worship, Thanksgiving works for everyone. A wonderful day to relax, reflect and give thanks to all of the blessings one has in their life….and I have many!

First and foremost I love my wife, daughters and family. We had a nice quiet and restful Thanksgiving this year and my mom and Isabel’s mom did all the cooking this year so Isabel and I were able to really relax – and boy we needed it. We are so busy and getting as much done as we can before we head to Italy for Christmas and New Years!

So with some time to reflect I want to thank all of my amazing clients and friends and fortunately in my case, many are one in the same. With the ISIS attacks in Europe and across the world this month it was so nice to watch the Macy’s Parade  and posts and texts from my clients at the parade and see America and what we all stand for in its full glory. All religions, nationalities, and colors represented. As I get older there are many Thanksgivings to look back upon and so you realize how special every moment is and how special the simple things in life are. I think we all suffer from the delusion that we will somehow live for ever but the fact is we won’t and we can all live our lives in fear and avoid traveling and living in isolation to avoid danger but something is going to end your life at some undefined point so why not live life to it’s fullest.

I encourage us all to just go for it and not succumb to the fear that groups like ISIS want to instill in us. I think events like this are a wake up call to all of us for sure and that despite our best efforts to delay the inevitability of death it will one day come and the older you get the less time you have to experience this amazing world. What are we all waiting for???  Ok at the risk of being morbid there are two outcomes in your life….you are either going to do everything you can to live to 90 or 100 if you are lucky and you will be rewarded with watching all of your friends and family die along the way….and in the end you are still going to die. Or you will die before your time and likely that will be due to some unforeseen or tragic event or illness….in the end you still die!

My point is there is no escape – period! So again, what are you waiting for??? We all need to stop waiting for the opportune time to travel, to experience life, to build that dream home, to make a difference in the world. What is great is I am seeing it and hearing it from my clients. I really think these recent events will actually have the opposite effect these horrific groups are looking for. People will stand up and will not accept fear nor tolerate the evil. Yes, we can all point fingers and try to place blame on how ISIS even came into existence, but it doesn’t matter….evil, darkness, and destruction will always be here. If not ISIS it would be something else. Kindness, goodness, creativity, love and light also will always exist and you must choose to make a difference in which will override the other. Doing nothing is a waste of what time you do have.

We are currently working on some amazing projects aimed at helping others that originated with one client’s dream or vision and like the ripple in the water that, as I wrote about a couple blogs ago, its off and soon turns into a tsunami. Again, its the small things done collectively that make a big difference.

                                     Colten Cowell Foundation Crime Fighting Cave

So live your life to the fullest, share light, goodness, and kindness which many of you do every day!  Don’t give in – keep it going and step it up. Those of you that are just watching the news and hiding in your homes get out and live life! And by the way, we are NOT cancelling our family trip to Italy for the holidays and we will be posting from St. Peter’s on Christmas Day and Florence on New Year’s Eve! 

Thursday, November 26, 2015

A Quick Look Back to Our Finish of The Candelaria Design Tour Italy ~ Venice

 Wow – it’s been so busy since my return from our September/October Candelaria Design Tour Italy. Our office is filled with many wonderful projects with everything from small remodel / additions, to full on estates, to the 32,000 sf Colten Bat Cave we currently have in design. I have been trying to find some time to write about the end of our Tour Italy – so here it is.

Our Italy travelers left early in the morning and Isabel and I and our travel mates Phil and Renee Giltner, stayed in Positano until later that afternoon whereupon the Giltners were kind enough to share their silent auction winnings with us which comprised of a trip to Venice for three days and nights. How could we resist that???

So with our travelers on their way back to the States we checked out of our Positano hotel and we made the drive to Naples to turn in our cars and check in for our flight to Venice. Now I have had airport food all over the place but nothing like in the Naples Airport…..Amazing.

Short flight to Venice, grab the luggage and then it’s a quick transport to the water taxi and then you are in a completely different world….the surreal and romantic landscape of Venice. This was Isabel’s first visit to Venice and it is so fun to bring someone to this city for the first time as it truly is unique and there is nothing like Venice in the world.

Our taxi took us to our hotel which was right on the Grand Canal. The  Ca'Sagredo Hotel ~ Venice was a palace originally owned by the Morosini family and was purchased at the start of the 18th century by the Segredo family whereupon later it was converted to a hotel. Let me tell you – this hotel truly is a Palace and what a way to stay in Venice.

I love Venice – the city is virtually a museum built on wood stilts and because of the canals and the fact this city is built on islands in the middle of a lagoon there are no cars, no vespas, hence its a unique quiet that you don’t experience in other European cities. You walk everywhere or go by boat and so you experience it at a quiet and slower perception - it’s magical.

We enjoyed all we could in the time we had including a private walking tour. Now this was not your usual tour of the well know sights of Venice. No – Isabel wanted to see Venice through the eyes of the courtesans of the golden age of Venice. Believe it or not – there is such a tour and it was actually quiet interesting and really informative…..from a historic standpoint! 

Of course we spent time in Piazza San Marco, enjoyed several museums and galleries, took a gondola ride, enjoyed the Grand Canal from a water taxi and experienced the main market. We found some wonderful places to dine including a fantastic lunch at the Ristorante la Feluca  where we walked into an empty restaurant but by the time we left the restaurant was filled with a couple dozen gondoliers who dined their daily and once served it was easy to understand why. Let’s just say, Isabel was very popular with the gondoliers.   Another good stop for amazing pizzas not far off the Piazza San Marco was Rossopomodorro – we ate there twice!

What a wonderful trip and experience and thank you to our good friends, clients, and fellow travelers, Phil and Renee Giltner.