Tag Archives: Italy

Photo Essay: A Path Unfolds

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Photo by: Laura Roe Stevens

Where is her heart leading her? Is she listening? A path emerges from the depths of her despair. Will she follow it? When she hits rock bottom and has nothing left, she has nothing left to lose. No one to please. No one to worry about. Will she follow this path? Or will she stay safely stuck, tucked away in her narrowing mind of grief that closes all doors, folding her further into darkness.

This is her pivotal  moment. This choice can change everything. Will she choose it? She has an inkling that it just might make everything that happened—every God damn shitty thing done by those who loved her most—almost make sense.

But only if she gets on that plane. Only if she follows the nudging of her  heart. It feels like running away. It is. It feels like giving up. It is. It feels terrifying. It is.

Finally, when she can no longer get up in the morning in the same house decorated with sinister smiles peering behind photos in every hallway, she’ll know what to do. When she’s finally had enough of being left with the mess; being left to walk alone past the empty nursery; being left with the trinkets of 15 years of betrayal and longing mixed within memories pushing her six feet under, she might muster up the courage to go.

A path is unfolding. And because she no longer cares whether she’ll live or die, she may just get on her first international flight and leave everyone and everything she’s ever known behind.

 

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Grounding Roots While Reaching For the Light

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Reaching for the Light by Laura Roe Stevens

Today I received two messages that I clearly needed—completely and utterly  perfect for me at this moment. The first came from a friend in Italy, another single mom who painstakingly takes care of her seriously ill young daughter’s every need. The quote from Khalil Gibran: ‘Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.’

Then, for some reason, I received a free copy of Deepak Chopra’s 21 Days of Inspiration—part of his bestseller The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success.

Today’s ‘inspiration’ about transformation is based around the metaphor of the beloved Sequoia tree. Again, how perfect for me, as I have been intrigued and mesmerized by these ancient trees and took a trip to see and hike among them. I even bought sequoia puzzles and blocks from my sons, as I am fascinated by the fact that these 3,000-year-old trees, older than Buddha, can only exist with the presence of fire. The heat of the forest fires release their seeds and clear away smaller trees that might block sun light from their roots.

My book, that I’m having difficulty focussing on at the moment, is quite literally centered around the mysticism from ancient trees. Not entirely, but it starts in this manner. I wish I could share a sneak peak within this blog, but a literary agent told me not to, so I’ll listen to her advice.

While the book is not based at all on my life or my childhood, I have always been affected by trees. As a child, I would escape the madness or chaos or fighting that might be occurring within my large household and run away to lay beneath 200-year-old pine trees. Our house bordered an old horse and tobacco farm and I would quite literally run past abandoned slave quarters and a tobacco-curing barn and then walk for ages on the then-empty horse trails, lined with soft pine needles. When I was finally exhausted, I would lay underneath a tree, my head resting on the moss that blanketed its knotted roots, and look up into the sky. The fingers of the trees would touch and move softly, letting in rays of sunlight, bits of blue sky. The shade helped me escape the usual oppressive heat of the South and if I laid still long enough, sometimes a deer would gently wander past. It was my heaven. Laying against the roots of trees that had witnessed likely atrocities from slavery, and perhaps moments of joyous horse-back riding, I wondered just what else had occurred or who else had shared this spot with me in the past. I didn’t know that I was meditating, but my eyes would close half-way, as I’d sleepily watch the limbs sway far above me. There were no other sounds except that of water trickling in the near by stream, leaves or pine needles rustling from deer, rabbits, squirrels or chipmunks. But most certainly, and steadily, like an ocean tide, I’d hear the soft, whispering wind from above. Although I was only a young girl, I think on some level, I recognized the metaphor in the moment that I sought over and over again when I needed to escape. And that is:

– Beauty Exists.

– Distance yourself from chaos, addiction, toxic relationships.

– Find stillness.

– Listen.

– Strengthen your core, your roots.

– Although rooted in who you are and what you want, strive to stay aware, mindful, accepting and grateful—especially for those lessons taught by those who have hurt you the most.

– And, most importantly: bravely, tentatively, reach for the sky, the light, and toward baby steps to manifest your dreams.

Happy New Year all ~

Laura xo

Gratitude, Courage and The Single Mom

Yesterday morning I was hit with a vivid memory that soccer-punched the air out of me and left me with a longing and nostalgia that I haven’t felt in a long time.  I had just driven past the Madonna Del Rifugio (ancient convent near our villa dedicated to the Madonna and child) on Via dei Frati (our dirt road, translated to “The Brothers”)  in Sinalunga, Italy. I was on my way to buy pastries to take back to the villa. We were leaving for Rome (where I am today) and my man was at home packing up all the many bags and machines he needs to keep his 80-year-old father alive—who is the reason for our trip this summer, back to his grandfather’s homeland.

As I navigate through the narrow dei Frati, past olive groves down into town, the soulful tune “Oh, What a Lucky Man, He Was” starts to play on the radio.  Tears of recognition sting my eyes. The Emerson Lake and Palmer song was playing 3.5 years ago as doctors performed a C-section to deliver James. The memory came rushing back as the song played, and I could literally see the hospital room at UCLA and the doctors and nurses and my ex sitting at my head looking down at me.  I pulled up to the coffee bar, smiled at my new friend Eva serving cappuccinos, and sat listening to the words. I raised one finger and nodded, letting her know I’d be inside soon, put my sunglasses on to hide my eyes, and felt a knot form deep within.

My OBGYN, who I consider a friend, played the mix tape he had made for his wife when she was delivering their son 20+ years earlier, at my delivery. I was insanely honored. I’ve known this man for 11 years and he is the reason why we moved back from London, in order to let him over-see the birth and my bed-rest. His first name is William and his brother’s James—the names of my two children coincidentally. He saw me through the chicken pox, then the premature contractions that landed me on bedrest for two months, and then this emergency C-section. October 24, 2008 was such a special day and hearing that song slammed me back to a time when I was filled with hope.

It’s a little ironic that our street in Italy is named the brothers. Little James always refers to his big brother and his best friends as “the brothers.” He often says, “I want to stay up and play with the brothers!” when William has a friend over to spend the night. It’s adorable and always makes me think that he was in a brotherhood of some sort in another life. This month we’ve also stayed down the road from an ancient, but working, convent that celebrates the Madonna and child. Our villa is on the hill above the village of Sinalunga, which is also dedicated to the Madonna. (Probably many villages throughout Italy are!) But everywhere you look, above door ways, bars, restaurants, churches and even offices, you can find paintings or sculptures of the Madonna and child, like the one in the picture above that I took.

Everywhere I’ve looked throughout my month away, I have been reminded of how important and revered motherhood is. There is no higher calling in Italy. It’s renewed my strength and filled me with more gratitude.

Life rarely works out the way we plan, does it? Who would have thought 3.5 years ago, after I delivered an adorable baby boy with crazy, spiked red hair like a British punk rocker, that I’d be separated and raising the boys solo 8 months later. It was too painful for words, so I won’t bother. But hearing that song again yesterday haunted me and felt like a wake-up call.

I am the lucky one.

Life has crazy twists and turns and so much is out of our control. But what is in our control is the power to see what is good and what is important in our lives. Flash forward 3.5 years and who would have thunk that I’d be spending a month in Italy with a boyfriend and his 80-year-old father who I adore. I’m seeing how vulnerable and tenuous every moment is through their eyes. And although some in America may not value motherhood as much as the Italians—you and I should never take their viewpoint seriously.

No one could argue with a woman who puts her children first, while no longer being a doormat. However you need to take care of them—if you are putting their needs first—you have your head and your heart in the right place.

Keep reminding yourself that you do have a job, you are competent, and that you are important. You are more than important—you are your children’s emotional security and source of love—that provides a roadmap for them to love themselves and others as adults.

So next time you find yourself having to defend what you do, or defend the needs of your children, or stand up for yourself, do what I plan to do: take a deep breath and focus on your children’s faces. They’ll inspire you to do what you need to do. And I, for one, intend to remember to always show gratitude. If your ex is taking good care of the kids, like mine is this week, say thank you. If your ex takes pains to call the children, tell him you appreciate it. It’s a little step towards a peaceful future.

Permission to Feel Again

“Like the tiny spark of fire that consumes a forest, the spark of love is all you need to experience love in its full power and glory, in all its aspects, earthly and divine.”
Deepak Chopra

Experts like Deepak Chopra often tell us that “living in the present moment is what best serves us.” In fact, I received an email today on that topic from his website. I think it is a wise sentiment, but one that can be truly hard for women going through divorce (or for anyone whose “present moment” is far from peaceful.) For women experiencing separation or a contentious divorce, it can be extremely hard to live in the moment—AND for it to be healthy—when one is living in fear. So many of my friends and readers who are going through a divorce know just what I mean. There is financial fear. There is emotional fear. There is fear of litigation. There may be nasty text messages or phone messages or child custody issues. There may be moments of dread and longing and regret and guilt—so much so—that you may get temporarily consumed with thoughts about mistakes from the past, or future moments for your children. All of these feelings are okay, and perhaps do need to be felt. And yet, they can keep us apart from our every-day lives. They keep us from making good decisions. They can consume us. They can keep us from enjoying the moment, our surroundings, our friends, our children, our community.

And with all that going on in our minds, how then, can we possibly allow ourselves to open up, be vulnerable, and to feel again? How does it allow for spontaneity or making new friends? How can we begin to love ourselves again?

I discovered this ancient temple outside Cortona, Italy the other week, on a day when fear was bubbling up again as I thought about my boys back in the States and pending issues with my divorce. As I snapped pictures of this basilica, I saw how weathered, yet proud it seemed—how elegant and timeless. I decided that each one of us going through hard times such as a divorce needs to remember that we are elegant and timeless. We need to be less hard on ourselves, less judgmental, less critical. We need to forgive ourselves. We need to be okay with not being perfect.

Meditation helps tremendously for those who become a bit panic-ridden or consumed with fear. As ironic as it seems, letting go of all of our fears for a few minutes—just breathing and thinking of nothing but our breath—helps to let go of the pain and just be.

I’ve been meditating almost every day while I’ve been in Italy. I breathe deeply, let go of any guilt or fear and just observe what I am feeling. It’s so nice to be allowed your feelings. There is nothing wrong with being angry or sad or unsure.

Italians are certainly not people to hold in their feelings. As I walk around our village I hear loud discussions over card games or dinner. I hear much laughter. I also sometimes hear yelling, but luckily, it doesn’t last long. I see couples that kiss very passionately without any qualms or embarrassment. I see women holding hands, men kiss hello and children who run and hug each other. It’s nice to be among people who feel deeply and whose culture embraces that.

If you are feeling overwhelmed with fears that are consuming you as your embark on your divorce, I encourage you to meditate. If you can, sign up for the Chopra 21-day meditation challenge. http://www.chopracentermeditation.com/

If that is too much for you, give yourself five minutes to just breathe. Don’t think about anything other than listening to your heart. It will awaken again some day. You will get over your pain and your sorrow. You will forgive yourself. You will let go of the criticisms thrust upon you. You will trust someone again, some day. Just listen to your heart and breathe deeply with each thought. Set an intention for your day. Today, mine is to listen. I will listen to myself and to others.

Have a wonderful day my friends. Tomorrow I am off to Naples in the search of the world’s best pizza. Food, is my new passion. Stay tuned! 🙂

Tuning in to the Rhythms of Tuscany

I can’t seem to tire of the Tuscan landscape. I have been here for two and a half weeks now and am still in love with the rolling hills, the textures and the vibrant colors of this region of Italy. Deep greens, golden fields and silver wisps of leaves surround me. As you drive, or walk, throughout Tuscany you see amazing landscapes such as this, that have been manipulated by man for centuries.

The curved rows of plowed, mustard-yellow fields are of the semolina wheat used to make pasta (that I am eating too much of!). By the end of June, most fields are plowed with bales of wheat rolled and waiting.

I adore the ever-present groves of olive trees, like these just outside our window. The Frantoio Franci olive oil company is  in walking distance to our vila. These are younger trees that are not producing usable olives just yet. Off in the distance, are older, more rugged trees with darker leaves, that are being harvested.

We are awakened each morning by the sound of tractors and the yips from the workers’ dogs who accompany them. The red ladders and three-wheeled mini pick-up trucks are often back in the fields after siesta—when the temperatures drop again and it is easier to work. Siesta, which is approximately from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., is completely understandable to me now. With temperatures between 90 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit daily, it’s critical to slow down—especially when working outside. Most businesses, except restaurants, are closed during this period as well. There seems to be no option but to take life slowly in Italy. When we first arrived in the province of Siena, I was concerned by the fact that there was no wifi in our villa and it was hard to come by in the village. I had an article to finish about Autism. I managed to do it on a dialup modem—but it was a looong and frustrating process. I couldn’t Skype with my boys. Email was hard to check. It felt like I was adrift. Once the story was in, I relaxed and started to breathe deeply and became more in tune with the rhythms of this world that are intrinsically linked with its landscape. My siestas became endearing to me. Here’s a typical siesta:

I sit in the local piazza. I notice a grandfather making amusing faces at his grandson as he buys him a gelato before heading home. I hear the adorable singsong voices of children who say papa! as they run home. A woman smiles and makes fun of me, calling me an “Alaskan” since I prefer ice cubes in my drink. I notice a momma bird feed her baby bird bread crumbs on the piazza floor.

I see a momma cat and her kittens hide in the shade of chairs.

I watch bees harvesting nectar from the potted lavender bushes and hear the bells chime from the convent on the hill above the village. A Vespa whines in the distance. I take a bite from my panini of prosciutto di Parma and Fontina cheese and think how marvelous it is that I haven’t once looked at a cell phone text or read an email. This won’t last, of course. But I am so thankful to have been given this temporary taste of freedom from my addiction to the Internet and with the need to keep up with all things and all people all the time. I give in and tell myself that my boys are just fine without me for a brief time. I pull out a map and start to plan a day excursion to another village. I begin to think about dinner—the obsession with food is quite contagious in Italy. And by the end of an hour, I head back home. Perhaps boring for some, but for me, being in the moment and present in my surroundings is a gift. I want to bottle it up and take it home.

When we arrived at the end of June this was just another green field with rows of leafy plants. Within two weeks, like so many of other fields in this region, it literally burst overnight with bright yellow and brown heads beaming up towards the sky. Driving past later in the afternoon, I shot this picture from the car window. I didn’t have time to stop with another car close behind me on a winding two-lane road—but I couldn’t resist the urge to capture their newly emerged faces. These proud, tall sunflowers seemed to scream “Smile, Damn it!”

And I did.

Postcard from Tuscany: Sunsets and Longing

Hills at sunset in Sinalunga

I took this picture just before sunset last night, July 4th. I felt such a pang of sadness just before taking this shot—as I miss my boys tremendously. The night before, I woke up at 1 a.m., dying to talk with them, and went outside and tried to call my oldest. When there was no answer, I sat on the steps and listened to the insanity of the loudest cricket orchestra on the planet. Tuscan crickets remind me of hecklers at a Yankees game. They seemed to be screaming at me: ‘Suck it up! Be a big girl!’ Anyway, it worked. I said a prayer that my boys are happy, lifted it up to the heavens, and went back to bed.

I’m learning that letting things go is a process. It doesn’t just happen when one day you decide that it’s a good thing to do. There are habits of behavior and longings and regrets that just don’t die away the moment you want them to. The boys and I will no longer have in-tact family vacations. Mommy and Daddy, after 2.5 years of separation, are nearly divorced. And as I spend time with my boyfriend’s children, who are adorable, I recognize their own longing and sadness that they try to hide. Family vacations always brings up the past. My goal is to be able to fondly recall past memories of our in-tact family holidays, and to be able to create and embrace new ones with a multi-family dynamic. I’m striving to move towards acceptance of my situation and to make peace with where I am. With each picture I shoot, and with each family dinner, I wish I could share it with my boys. But I have to let it go. I’ll be back with them in August and thank God I spend most rest of the year with them!

Slowing Down in Tuscany

View from my bedroom in Sinalunga, Tuscany

Tuscany reminds me,  in some ways, of my summers in the South. I know, there are no olive tree orchards (like you see here) or cypress tress or fields of sunflowers or lavender and rosemary bushes the size of small trees. But, with that said, one has to slow down here. It’s so hot, for instance, that you really do need a siesta in the afternoon. Stores and restaurants shut down from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. and it’s completely understandable. There is no air conditioning, anywhere.  So you close all the shutters and windows during the day, walk very slowly when out, seek lemonade and gelato and try to find spots in the shade.

Lavender bushes outside our kitchen in our villa. The smell is amazing!

Everyone slows down here, especially the cats! (And there are so many wild cats!) This sweet gal hides in our rosemary bushes outside our kitchen with her babies. Of course, we are feeding her…how could we not?

Look closely. Do you see her?

What I love most about Tuscany, is that the minute you arrive, your spirits begin to lift. How could they not? On the drive from Rome, you see fields of sunflowers, or a castle up on a hill, or a Romanesque, walled town off to your left. As we pulled into our villa, I smiled ear-to-ear. How can one not be affected by such picturesque beauty?

Our closest neighbor on a nearby hill.

View from my other bedroom window. The owners of this villa owns the working olive tree orchard and makes their own olive oil. I’m sure we’ll take home a few bottles!

More lavender behind the house. My absolute favorite scent at the moment!

Get Your Knees Up!!

I am completely breathless and my feet incredibly swollen as I write this. Yet, I am exhilarated too, while en route to Italy. I have one thing to say: NEVER embark on a multi-leg journey without all of your boarding passes! I began my day in Los Angeles Airport where I was given two boarding passes and was told that getting the third would be “no problem.” RIGHT. So, I raced to make my first flight with only 10 minutes to spare, to Charlotte, NC.  From there, I embarked to Frankfurt, Germany and had an amazing experience on the flight where I made a good friend. (I will write about this amazing Italian woman, who is fighting for her daughter’s life, in my next post.)

For whatever reason, maybe US Air’s computers were down or weren’t linked correctly, but I had to navigate the Frankfort airport and to try to get the Lufthansa boarding pass that I should have been given in LA. I did this after already traveling over 12 hours. Needless to say, computer glitches—married with a communication barrier—made me nearly miss my flight to Rome. Somehow, I mustered up the courage NOT to take the pitiful advice of three negligent Lufthansa agents and I ran to security and begged a woman to let me through, sans boarding pass, to my departure gate. Somehow, miracle, of miracles, she let me through!

Basically, in Frankfurt I went to two kiosks that didn’t give me my boarding pass and was directed to a long check-in line (which of course, I didn’t need to be in, as I had already checked my bag all the way through to Rome from Los Angeles!) And then when my heart started beating overtime, I jumped out of that line and went into the first class line. When that wasn’t moving I raced over to priority. When that wasn’t moving, one snotty man who worked for Lufthansa actually told me that I would just have to buy another ticket to Rome. WHAT? I mean, this was all their fault, right? And I was already checked into the flight from Rome, I just needed a f*cking boarding pass that they should have already issued me to get on it! So I raced to security and passport control and luckily, a woman felt sorry for me after looking at my printed itinerary (ALWAYS have a printed itinerary for these multi-leg flights) and she let me through.

With 25 minutes until my flight took off to Rome, I waited and waited in a ridiculously slow security checkpoint and then raced through miles of airport, running like the wind with my swollen feet about to burst. I had to race through three terminals and to the very end of one in order to wait in another line to finally get a new boarding pass at the gate. What a nightmare!!! Luckily, I only had one light roller bag, so racing through the airport wasn’t too difficult. At one point during my race, when a very large American family blocked my way, a cute Italian pilot looked at me sympathetically, pointed and screamed “Mi Scusi!” and pushed the obese man and woman out of my way and winked, letting me continue to run through the terminal. I’m sure I ran a bit like a girl, but hey, I made it. AND…I didn’t lose it like this woman did, who missed her flight to San Francisco earlier this year. Take a look at this for a laugh. Thank God I didn’t lose my cookies like she did, but I can completely understand her stress!

So, I am now sitting sandwiched between two enormously fat teenagers from Atlanta, Georgia (what is going on, my fellow Americans??) who are going to Italy to study abroad for the summer. One is sweating profusely and I’m trying to ignore that aroma as I write. Just 90 more minutes and I land in Rome to be greeted by my adorable boyfriend who will make this trek worth the hassle! By this time tomorrow, when I’m driving with his family to our vila in Tuscany, today’s stress should be a long-forgotten, or at least humorous, memory.

Single Mom’s Budget Travel Tips

Photo by: Sam Squansh

Summer is around the corner. As a single parent, instead of getting giddy about your well-deserved time off, or some family fun, you may likely be getting depressed. Are you looking at your check book and thinking there’s NO WAY you can afford a vacation? If you are newly separated or divorced, you may feel like you will never travel again. I mean, it’s hard enough to even drive to see the grandparents with kiddos of a certain age, right? Even if you could afford a European or Hawaiian vacation, would you want to fly alone with the little ones? (I’ve done this many times,  as I used to live in Europe and my Ex still does, so I transport the kiddos to him. I’ve learned many tricks to entertain and distract the one, two, and three-year-old minds on transAtlantic flights. Even so, it’s extremely taxing. For tips on how to survive flights with your children read my article Survival Tips for European Travel with Children .)

But, back to reality…How can you afford a holiday with the little ones this year? If you’re creative, flexible, open-minded and resourceful, you’ll be amazed at the many ways to subsidize travel expenses. I’m going to share a few of my favorites. There’s NO reason why you can’t figure out a way to get away—even if for a weekend. If your Ex has the kiddos for a week or two over the summer, that might be the perfect chance to escape solo. If you are traveling with them, however, there are ways to lower costs, make new friends, and find affordable babysitting or camps so you can rest. I hope these ideas inspire you and if you have more, PLEASE chime in!

Top Travel Tips for the Single Mom: 

Try a House Swap: My favorite site is Sabbatical Homes. This site was founded by Nadege Conger when she realized that there was a need, predominately in the academic community. Her husband, who is a professor, travels a bit for work. Like many of his colleagues, he can take sabbaticals or visiting professor gigs at other universities. From this idea—to cater to academia—her site has grown to a larger audience. It is still much smaller than the main home exchange sites and feels more manageable—as it’s easy to identify and conduct background checks on the people who respond to your ads. If you’re thinking, “who would want to swap houses with me since I don’t live in California or Florida?” this site is for you. Academics often want to get away to work on a proposal or book—or need to teach at another university—expanding the typical search requests and making your house more viable. Since Nadege is French and travels a lot, there is large audience on this site from Europe. After posting my house, I had requests for house swaps in Italy, France, Spain and Hawaii. You can also rent your house via this site. If you are interested in an adventure and are flexible about where you go, this could be a great option. Plus, house swaps provide a great way to really enjoy your holiday with a local’s perspective. I’ve house swapped via craigslist (before learning of this site) and had amazing trips to Paris, Venice and London. (Which I will write about later, since they were all amazing holidays with local flare.)
Another great site to rent homes for your next vacation, or perhaps to list your own is: Vacation Homes and Villas.

Take a short cruise:
Lisa Van Riette, a single mom of three from Orange County, Calif., took a three night/four day excursion with Carnival Cruise Line this year for just under $1,000. Yup, you read that right. This included meals and kids camps and activities for her kids, ages 7, 11 and 13. “They had so much fun together! There were so many activities, like a build-a-bear (camp), a scavenger hunt for my 13-year-old and an all-you-can-eat (ice-cream) sunday party. I had time off and then we’d all get together for dinner. And, the food was good! You can’t beat it!” says Lisa.  This mom has taken many cruises with Carnival, but experts also rank Disney Cruise Line high for families as it has nursery staff for infants.

Explore Single Parent Holidays:
Organizations like Single Parent Travel offer group-discounted vacations for single parents and their children. A current package includes a a five day/four night Harry Potter excursion at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando. Other trips include Telluride and the beaches off the Turkish coast. I can’t say the vacations are extremely cheap (Harry Potter costs between $850 and $1,300 for rooms alone), but they offer a group discount on rooms and a built-in community of other families with children, so your kiddos will make friends and play, while you can enjoy adult conversations with other single parents. It’s a brilliant idea.

Find Travel Deals:  
There are plenty of agencies out there to sign up with, but my favorite is Sherman’s Travel Deals . Highlighted on his site right now is a great article entitled Fifteen Summer Trips on Half a Tank outlining great weekend get-a-ways. Sign up and you’ll receive his weekly email of travel tips and the latest deals. For instance, BookIt.com has a hot deal for discounts on summer vacations, ending May 1st.

Rack Up Miles.
If you have credit card debt and a decent credit rating, transfer your account to  a credit card that is offering you airline miles. For instance, some credit cards will give you 25,000 miles for opening an account and then offers miles for each dollar you spend or transfer over. To compare credit cards offering miles, go here.