As some of you may have seen on my Instagram, I recently took a (very quick) trip to Italy. A BIG Thank You to my parents who allowed my sister and I hijack their vacation for a few days.
I always find when I go on vacations, especially to places that are culturally very different from where I'm from, I try to take note of how I can incorporate some of that culture into my life when I return. These are the 3 things I learned (or was reminded of) in Italy, that might help you too.
I am very grateful my mother took it upon herself to learn Italian about 5 years ago. This one simple goal opened up a whole new world to her. Literally. She has made friends all over Italy, and New York. So, during our time in Positano, most of our dinners were pre-ordered by our Italian friends who knew just the right combination of meats, cheeses, and pastas (and wine).
I made sure to try everything, and our friend Franco commented “oh you must be hungry.” He then turned to my mother and said, “I love your daughters because most American women are vegan or vegetarian, they spend more money on clothes than they do on food” (not me).
I started pouring him another glass of wine and his eyes widened and then he said, "OK life is only one." I told him in the US we say YOLO, (You Only Live Once).
But here's the problem with "YOLO," especially when it comes to food. YOLO is a slippery slope. Pizza in Positano? YOLO. Stale cupcakes at an office party? NOT a YOLO moment. Save your YOLO moments for the moments you are actually living. You know that saying… You actually live every moment, you only die once. Don't YOLO your way into killing yourself. Choose life. Choose experiences. Don’t eat and drink yourself into coma everyday. That’s not living.
Our friends were so generous. With their time, their energy, their love, their food. I mean everything. And just a side note, we were there during the work-week, not a relaxing weekend. I realize how much we, myself included, live in this scarcity mentality. There is never enough time, money, energy, food, nourishment to satisfy us. We end up looking for sustenance in all the wrong places (see stale office cupcakes mentioned above). That might be because we are always looking for what we can get versus spending our time giving.
I asked our friend Reno where we could get the best cannoli in town. He said “I’ll bring it to you.” with the english translation I figured he meant he would bring us there. But, he showed up at our door the next day WITH THE CANNOLI. On HIS WAY TO WORK. When was the last time you did that for someone? Let's try it, I bet it feels really good.
This was not something that Italy taught me. This was something that very-poor-internet-connection taught me. I ate (I mean, read) two books while I was away for those three short days (Nourishing Wisdom by Marc David and Yes Please by Amy Poehler). Usually before bed I soak up some white-light by watching re-runs on my fave shows (Friends, and How I Met Your Mother) on Netflix. I make it through one, maybe two episodes and then pass out. But, I also have a stack of books next to my bead that are thus far unread. I'm going to invest in a night lamp so I can start reading before bed, even if just for 10 minutes.
I had this whole plan to do a “Healthy Through the Holidays” Challenge, and now coming back from this trip. My head and heart are not in it. I have some other projects that I'd rather invest my time and energy in, so instead, I’m listing some challenges here to help you close out 2015.
1. Be present with your meal. Engage with your company. Even if your company is just you. Living alone, I eat a lot of mymeals alone. It’s easy to flip on a TV show, or have my phone on while I’m eating. But I’m pretty damn good company all on my own. So my goal is to do that more.
2. Bring someone a cannoli. You know what a mean, a metaphorical cannoli. Give someone something as wonderful and decadent as a cannoli when they least expect it. I swear it will feed you for like a month.
3. Read before bed. Or write. Or see if there is something you might do with your moments of spare time besides flip through the internet or watch TV.
Let me know in the comments below which one of these challenges you're going to try - and then let me know how it works out for you!