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La Bella Vita: Life Lessons from Tuscany

July 2, 2010

At the beginning of June, I spent a week in Tuscany at a charming Agroturismo, with my sister, Dana, and cousin Natasha.  Dana has been going there for years and just loves it.  This summer she is staying a month – her longest stay yet.

I was excited to see Il Cellese because the pictures looked gorgeous and Dana had been raving about it.  When I arrived, it actually took my breath away.  The almost 360 degree view with its gentle rolling hills dotted with vineyards, Cyprus trees and old stone houses was magnificent.  Immediately I felt a sense of serenity and joy at having arrived in what the Italians call Paradiso. I finally understood why this place had captured my sister’s heart.

Needless to say it was a spectacular week.  Everything was incredible – the food, wine, coffee (once you’ve experienced Italian coffee you can never go back), shopping and sights.  Spending time with my sister and Natasha as we drank, laughed and sang (yes in that order) our way through Tuscany was unforgettable.  The generosity and humour of our host, Sergio, was the crowning touch and made the difference between a vacation and a genuine Italian experience.

Il Celeste, Tuscany

The beautiful view outside Il Celese: Image Courtesy of Wendy Woods

 

One night as we drank Sergio’s heavenly Reserva wine, Dana commented on the joyfulness of the Tuscana lifestyle compared to home.  Sergio said “you have to learn how to take Tuscany back home with you”.  At that moment, I realized that I didn’t just want to take Tuscany home with me but wished to live Tuscany at home. I craved to experience more serenity, mindfulness and joy in Toronto.

I realized that I am so wrapped up in doing and achieving that I forget to ‘be’ and enjoy my life.  Since I have been back from Tuscany, I have experienced a greater sense of joy and presence in my life. I’m sure waking up everyday with my Italian coffee helps but here are a few other simple ideas that have helped me live la bella vita:

  • Take better and longer breaks from work. Being self employed it’s very easy for my work to expand into my personal life. It’s not usual for me to work weekends and evenings.  However when I actually take an entire evening or weekend off, I am happier, more creative and productive when I return. 

  • Be in the present moment. Usually my mind is running a million miles an hour as I think about deadlines and goals. As a result, I am barely present in my life and miss out on all kinds of opportunities for joy. Now I am consciously pushing everything else away to focus on the moment and experience the opportunities for happiness.  It’s hard but I am working at it.

  • Do more things that bring me joy. As we were driving through Tuscany, singing to a Michael Buble song, I realized that I love singing and have always wanted to take singing lessons. I will be signing up in the fall and focusing on other things that bring me joy.  Whether it’s sitting on a patio with friends or making my own jam, I am planning to bring more blissful moments into my life.  
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