Archive for 2009

Book Giveaway: The Go-Getter Girl’s Guide by Debra Shigley

The Go-Getter Girl's Guide by Debra ShigleyDebra Shigley is a journalist, speaker, and author of the book The Go-Getter Girl’s Guide: Get What You Want in Work and Life (and Look Great While You’re at It). Debra went to Harvard undergrad and then got her law degree at Georgia State–and now she writes books and, not surprisingly, looks great doing it.

The Go-Getter Girl’s Guide is a comprehensive resource for career women who want to succeed in the workplace but not lose their own sense of self. The book covers strategies in the following areas, among others:

  • Cultivating mentors
  • Handling office politics
  • Schmoozing
  • Dressing for Success
  • Maintaining a Healthy Physical and Emotional Lifestyle

Debra sent me a copy, and I flew through this book. It’s full of great advice for women in all stages of their careers, but especially for those just starting out, which makes this a fabulous graduation gift — or, of course, Christmas gift. On top of all that great advice, though, you’ll find the reading easy and enjoyable with Debra’s casual, funny writing style.

And it really does cover so much of what women should know before stepping foot into a workplace; one of my favorite parts is about tips on how to ask for a raise. Many, many of us women struggle with that, but Debra makes it look easy peasy. And it is, once you learn how it should be done.

Now, I’m going to give you a chance to win my copy of the book; all you have to do is comment on this post by 11:59 p.m. EST on Sunday, December 20, 2009. I am, though, limiting the contest to those with shipping addresses in the United States or Canada.

If you live abroad, why not enter and then have the book sent to an American or Canadian friend or relative as a gift — or you can even pick it up sometime on a visit? All you need is *some* address in the U.S. or Canada; it doesn’t have to be yours!

Now, here’s a guest post by Debra to give you a taste of her writing:

I’ve been thinking about some new studies that suggest women are gradually becoming unhappier than we were 40 years ago.   Of course, the research reflects a snapshot and not the complete picture of modern women’s experiences. I’m happy, and I speak to women all the time who are living happy and fulfilled lives, personally and professionally. But, I think the research prompts us to consider a few things.

First, happiness is such a relative term, and how you personally define it — e..g, ‘feeling good’; joy; fulfillment; professional success; being in love; even having a good hair day!– affects whether you feel you’re achieving it in your life.  But second, women fundamentally have more opportunities than we did 40 years ago, and I think with so many options and choices, happiness can also become a choice. Happiness—however you define it– doesn’t just happen by accident!  It’s something I became very aware of interviewing so many women who are making their dreams happen (and looking great too!)—Go-Getter Girls, as I came to think of them. These are women who are fun, sassy, savvy—and who are also generous and want to share their advice on everything from finding your perfect job to your perfect pair of jeans.

As a women, I think we almost have to ask ourselves on a daily (hourly?!) basis, am I  doing things in my life to make me feel happy? Do I even know what will make me happy? Am I taking ownership of the choices I’m making—whether it’s my relationships, career, health?  Am I traveling? Trying new things?  Working out? Treating myself to a manicure? Creating joy in my own life, and others’ lives? Finding fulfillment sometimes takes a lot of work! That’s sort of the essence of Go-Getter Girl-ness: taking charge of and responsibility for your life and career—instead of waiting for life – and happiness- to just happen to you.

Now, get after it!


Thanks Debra! I’m definitely a fan of not waiting for life to happen…go ladies go!

And remember to comment for your chance to win a copy of the book!

Winner of 100 Places in Italy Every Woman Should Go

100 Place in Italy Every Woman Should GoThanks to all 78 of you who left comments to win a copy of Susan Van Allen’s 100 Places in Italy Every Woman Should Go.

I randomly drew a winner from all eligible comments and the winner of the book is:


Congratulations Lark!

Please send your mailing address to michellefabio5(at)gmail(dot)com, and I’ll pass it along to Susan.

Hey, is everyone ready for the holidays or what?

Love Thursday: Fall in LOVE Park, Philadelphia

I spent a day in Philadelphia on my way “home” to the Coal Region, and of course I had to stop in at LOVE Park. See those gorgeous autumn colors in the background?

I call this “Fall in LOVE Park, Philadelphia”:

Fall in LOVE Park, Philadelphia on Flickr

I spent many lunch hours and weekend afternoons there many years ago in JFK Plaza, but hadn’t ever taken a photo. So nice to be able to remedy that.

<3 Park Philadelphia on Flickr

I also had (what I thought was) a fun idea to stand to the side of the statue and put my arms up in the shape of a U to spell out “LOVE U” for Paolo. So I asked my mom to take the photo. She, um, well….

LOVE U on Flickr

Yes, this was already “straightened” as much as possible in iPhoto.

Eh, it’s the thought that counts.

Happy Love Thursday!

P.S. The photos look much better in Flickr; does anyone know why that is and how I can fix it?

Book Giveaway: 100 Places in Italy Every Woman Should Go

100 Place in Italy Every Woman Should GoLast post, I tried to explain a bit about why I might possibly want to live in Italy–and by the way, thank you all *so* much for all the wonderful, kind, and supportive comments and insights!

Now as good timing would have it, today we have a guest post from Susan Van Allen, author of 100 Places in Italy Every Woman Should Go, entitled:

Thoughts on Why Women Love Italy…

Before we get to the post, though, a contest just in time for the holidays!

Comment on this post on the blog (NOT on Facebook, Twitter, etc.) before midnight EST on Sunday, December 13, 2009 to be eligible to win one copy of Susan Van Allen’s 100 Places in Italy Every Woman Should Go.

Now, here’s Susan:

Susan Van AllenI heard a story about a Manhattan shrink that intrigues me. His prescription for female patients who are depressed or suffering from low self esteem is this:

Take one Italian Vacation and call me when you come home…if you come home!

Smart shrink! From my experience, the test results are in: Every woman I’ve ever met (me included) who takes an Italian vacation comes back rejuvenated, strengthened, and often cured of whatever had been plaguing her.

So what is the secret ingredient that Italy has to turn our lives around?

I delved into this question while writing 100 Places In Italy Every Woman Should Go, talking to over a hundred women about their Italian travel experience and remembering my own, that began in 1976. I kept asking: “Why do you love Italy?” Inevitably this answer came: “It feels like Home”.

I understand “It feels like home” coming from someone like me, an Italian-American, who grew up with grandparents, aunts, and uncles who emigrated from southern Italy. I fell in love with Italy at my grandparents’ dining room table in Newark, New Jersey: a loving, abundant, and delicious place. Ever since my first trip there, over 30 years ago, that beautiful childhood feeling from that New Jersey dining room table rushes back at me each time I touch down in Italy.

But what about all those women without a drop of Italian blood who answered, “It feels like home.”

Obviously, we’re talking “Home” in that beautiful sweeping sense—Home meaning “a place that understands us, a place that feeds our soul.”

We feel it as soon as we land in Italy: a deluge of sensual pleasures: We see masterpieces, gorgeous sunsets, fountains, gardens, we smell the ragu, taste the wine and gelato, hear church bells, the lilting Italian language. We feel the Mediterranean sun on our shoulders. It’s such an overload of sensual pleasures, we lose our minds and our hearts melt open.

And then Italy embraces us.

It’s this embrace, I believe, that leads to the answer to my question. Yes, Italy is probably one of the world’s most welcoming country to everyone, but it seems to be especially custom made to welcome women.

The Birth of VenusWhy do Women Love Italy? Because Italy Loves Women.

Women are adored here, from baby principessas to nonnas. And who doesn’t adore being adored?

On the surface, the adoration comes from those handsome Italian men, who in the great tradition of Casanova, have mastered the art of flirting. But in Italy, the adoration of women goes even deeper than that. It’s rooted in this culture that’s worshipped women as divine beings ever since the earth was cooling.

Could this be the secret ingredient? Italy’s long tradition of female worship? You’re surrounded by it everywhere you turn. It comes on most strongly through two deities who reign supreme, side-by-side: Venus, that Vixen Goddess of Love and Beauty, and the Madonna, the Mother of Abundance and Compassion. We come face to face with these females in sculptures and paintings in museums, temples, and churches. Their essence floats in the Italian air, buoying us. Together, Venus and the Madonna embody the complete woman: The Venus side of us that’s the whimsical, adventurous beauty who revels in sensual pleasures and the Madonna side of us—the nurturing, compassionate soul whose generosity is boundless.

Stand back and take a look at an Italian woman striding down the via—she knows those divine Venus-Madonna sparks live inside her. For the rest of us, a trip to Italy fans those sparks. It reawakens us and takes us back to our true divine nature, to our souls. Effortlessly, it takes us home.

So you could spend years on a psychiatrist’s couch. Or, as that Manhattan shrink suggests, you could take a trip to Italy. I say, Go! Buy that ticket. Enjoy every moment. Revel in coming home.


LOVE this, Susan. Thanks so much!

Remember to comment for your chance to win a copy of Susan’s book by Sunday at midnight!

Why I Would Want to Live *There*

Badolato on FlickrLast night as my mom, niece, and I were leaving a restaurant (Italian, mind you), my mom stopped to talk with one of her former coworkers who happened to be seated nearby. My mom introduced me and mentioned I live in Italy.

“Why would you want to live there?” she responded.

I was beyond taken aback by the question. I know not everyone feels the desire to live and experience other cultures, but really? Why would I want to live in Italy? REALLY?

Completely baffled, I blanked but quickly blurted out, “Because I love it!” It wasn’t until later that I sat and thought about it.  Of course I have lots of practical reasons I choose to live in Italy, including but not limited to the following:

  • Paolo and all my fur babies
  • Fresh delicious food (much of it from our own garden)
  • The laidback lifestyle where I’m not pressured to have the latest gadget, iFillintheblank, etc.
  • Living minutes from the sea and mountains
  • Being surrounded by amazing history, culture, and beauty
  • Pretty nice weather year-round
  • How much healthier I feel since living there

But you know what? “Because I love it!” really sums it up best after all. It’s difficult to put my happiness and overwhelming sense of feeling I’m in the right place at the right time into words, spoken or written, but I know I feel it, and that is what’s important.

And as it turns out, that random, unexpected question really came at an interesting point during my first trip to America in nearly six years; I’m about two weeks in with another four to go, and I can honestly say I *know* I love (and miss) my life in Italy. There’s still a lot to process about this trip, but I’m grateful that I was pushed to explore at least some of that while I’m still living it.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m certainly enjoying my visit in the U.S. — this crazy Coal Region will always be home — but I have a new home I love now too.

And that’s reason enough for me to live there.

P.S. Buon compleanno to my amore (31) and to Bleeding Espresso (3)!

Michelle FabioMichelle Fabio is an American attorney-turned-freelance writer living in her family's ancestral village in Calabria, Italy and savoring simplicity one sip at a time. 

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Homemade apple butter
Green beans, potatoes, and pancetta
Glazed Apple Oatmeal Cinnamon Muffins
Pasta with snails alla calabrese
Onion, Oregano, and Thyme Focaccia
Oatmeal Banana Craisin Muffins
Prosciutto wrapped watermelon with bel paese cheese
Fried eggs with red onion and cheese
Calabrian sausage and fava beans
Ricotta Pound Cake