The Transition to Primavera (Springtime)

Primavera     It only looks like rubble, but if you look closely there is something wonderfully miraculous sprouting up, if you are willing to change your focus. Dopo  l’inverno c’e’ la primavera..after the winter comes the spring. The blooming of the crocuses are the first sign that we can take a long deep breath and let the rubble of our difficulties go, as we move forward into a fragrant, colorful, happier time of sunshine, natural perfume, and smiling faces all around.  Take note, that this is a cycle. It will not stay like this forever, but neither will the dead winters of our lives. There is ALWAYS a crocus courageously pushing its way through, but we must remember this, so that we never give up. The memory of la primavera will build our resilience and help us to resist despair, in even our darkest hour.

Let Easter be not just a day, but a season in your life, that serves as a reminder of the hope and certainty of a GOOD LIFE, that will always resurface between the rough spots.

 I am so looking forward to the release of my book “Lemons into Limoncello: From Loss to Personal Renaissance with the Zest of Italy ” (HCI Books) on May 7th.  My wish is that it will help you through your darkest hours, and reconnect you to a vibrant life of well-being and fulfillment.

Buona Pasqua (Happy EAster)!

3 Ways to Bring About the Light of Your Own Personal Renaissance

Italian renaissance

Photo courtesy: MetMuseum.org

Whether you have weathered a long hard winter, a tough economy, or a personal crisis, it may be time to take action to lead yourself out of the dark tunnel of adversity. The Renaissance exemplifies a time period that brought civilization towards a new dawning of exquisite beauty, enlightenment, and also can be viewed as a civilization make-over. It opened doors to new thought, perspective, and a deepened appreciation for what it means to be human.

Being human is about accepting life’s imperfections, as well as its glories.  We face hardships we often cannot avoid; changes we would rather not have to make; and twists and turns along our earthly journey that we never see coming.

All of this is to be expected, and any self-help expert who promises a lifetime of smooth- sailing might as well sell you snake oil.  On the other hand, meaningful satisfaction comes with the ability to love life—YOUR life–despite the snags; just as a mother who looks at the faces of her children and sees them not as “perfect”, but as “perfectly beautiful” to her.

True satisfaction lies in our ability to accept the events that have not worked out as we had hoped, as well those which have worked out even better than we had ever dared to dream. When you are able to realize the beauty of your life “as is”, you are on the threshold of stepping out of your own dark ages, and into the light of a joyful personal renaissance.

Bouncing back from dark times requires not only this adjustment in perspective, but it also takes targeted action to bring your life in a new direction.  Perhaps these ideas will work for you, in infusing your life with new light, understanding, and greater satisfaction:

  1. Consider all of the things about yourself that you enjoy. Write them down, and next to each one, write one or two ideas on how you can bring those aspects of you to a new, intensified level.  For example, if you enjoy getting together with friends, but only have the time to do so a couple of times a month, find a way to schedule in double the amount of social activities for the next two months. See if that works to increase your level of well-being.
  2. Now consider the things about your life that you don’t love. Then next to each one, write steps that will help you to change what you can change about them, and therefore evolve and get past what keeps you stuck. For instance, if you have gained weight this winter, instead of just beating yourself up about it, or worse yet, putting yourself down to others about it, take some reasonable action steps to pull yourself out of that status-quo TODAY. While you can’t expect weight loss in one day, you can expect to feel the self –pride that comes with doing something positive to reach your goals and counteract the situation on this one day. Something, ANYTHING that aligns you with what you truly want from life.
  3. Change one thing about your appearance.  Experiment with an article of clothing that you would never have considered before; a hairdo that breaks the years long cycle of same ol’ same ol’; a new fragrance, updated makeup; you can even work on changing your voice, your laugh, your gestures, to bring them more in line with how you really want to be.  A friend once told me she felt her voice was too high-pitched and too fast paced for her liking. She actually practiced slowing down and lowering her pitch, and she now has people complimenting her on how soothing and attractive her voice is.   Changing even one thing about yourself can start a new cycle of personal re-birth and many more positive changes to come.

 

Since Life is about change anyway, there is nothing that says you cannot make the kinds of changes YOU want to make on the heels of the changes you have no control over.  Bring yourself towards the light, love, and laughter, of your own personal renaissance, by changing what you can and aligning those changes with what you want your life to be: BEAUTIFUL.

5 Reasons to Care for Le mani (Your Hands) and 3 Ways to Transform Them Fast

Le mani    In Italy, the use of hand gestures can be traced back to the Roman orators who enhanced their presentations and made their messages more compelling through the expressive use of their hands. Italians of different regions, speaking different dialects not always understandable to each other, often used hand gestures to break the communication barrier. In addition to public speakers, hands were the vehicle for the words of great Renaissance artists, musicians, and architects.

One day, as I sat at my desk, busily conducting my work-related tasks, I looked down at my hands and realized that something had to change. The polish was half -chipped off, I had hangnails that were close to bleeding, calouses from the strings of my guitar, and the backs of my hands were as dry and flakey as chalk. I had momentarily forgotten that my ABILITY to do both what I love and what I have to do , depends  directly on a body and mind that function as they should. Including my hands.  That was it.  It was time to time to care for my hands as a “gesture” of gratitude for all they do for me.

Afterall, our hands help us to:

1. Communicate

2. Earn a living

3. Help others

4. Care for ourselves.

5. Cook our way to good health

If you agree that your hands deserve a bit more attention than you have been giving them lately, here are three great tips that don’t take a lot of extra time, but can make a world of difference in how you feel from here on in when you look down at your hands.

1. Rub some extra virgin olive oil, first into your cuticles each day, and then into your fingers and backs of your hands.  I keep a bottle of olive oil in my bathroom, to use exclusively for grooming (hair, face, hands, body)

2. Put a ring or two on each day. Think of this as crowning your hands and giving them a place of royalty in your life, in appreciation for what they do for you.

3. Make sure , that if you wear polish, that you keep it fresh, unchipped, and varied . You don’t have to spend a lot of money for great nails. You can buy several colors of inexpensive polish and have fun with it at home.

Viva le mani.  Long live our hands!

 

 

5 Little Ways to Get Happy This Week!

IL tricolore

I have always believed that waiting for “un domani” (one day in the future) to be happy, only keeps on stuck in a mindset of lack. It is TODAY, not TOMORROW that needs our attention more than ever, when it comes to filling your life with happiness. There are so many things in a single day that make us smile, laugh, or feel a sense of wellbeing, but often we just let them fly by us because we are focused on something in the nebulous future, that we MUST have happen before we will allow ourselves to admit we are enjoying ourselves right here and now.

So here are ten little things (piccole cose) that make me smile and feel as if life is a celebration. I DEFINITELY want YOU to add to my list, in the comment section below. Yes, let’s start a cycle of piccole-grandi cose, little things that are really great things, and give them the acknowledgement they deserve!

1. Eat simple and clean: ” Il tricolore“–no not the flag itself, but the colors of freshness in the right red, white and green ingredients, such as garlic, tomatoes, basil , and fresh mozzarella cheese. I can actually make a meal out of these ingredients and crusty loaf of well-cooked bread, a drizzle of olive oil–and I feel like a princess.

2.  Primp a bit more to feel confident.  The feeling of the bella figura lasts the whole day through when I”ve paid attention to the details–nice polished nails, the right amount of makeup, a carefully chosen outfit, a great fragrance…

3. Experience Live Entertainment. Let’s face it; TV may be relaxing but there is nothing like going to a live event–a play, an opera, a musical concert. Get out there and make yourself think, reflect, and experience!

4. Do something that INSPIRES you. Read a great book, have a conversation with someone you consider to be wise, immerse yourself in poetry or re-read a classic that you once read when you were too young to really get into it.

5. Be the person you want to be right now. Dont’ wait for tomorrow to change what you want to have evolve about yourself. If you want your life to be positive, then make it be so TODAY. Find the good in every day and talk about it, marvel about it, celebrate it.

When it comes to your diet, always choose qualita’

Qualita'

The jar of jam on the left was purchased on sale; the one on the right I admit was  a bit more pricey. The Italians in my family were never drawn to extravagance. They were always, however, drawn to quality. Preferiscono qualita’ alla quantita’ (they prefer quality over quantity), especially when it comes to food. We believe the most powerful way to prevent lifestyle disease is through what we put at the end of our forks. Most of the time that means home cooking, but when choosing store-bought items, like jam for your brioche, reading the label is your insurance against disease, and unhealthy weight gain.

The first ingredient listed on the large sale jar of jam is “high fructose corn syrup”. The first ingredient on the little imported jar is “figs”. Which would you want going into your body? Which would be more likely to support normal, healthy cells, organs, and bodily tissue?

It all comes down to REAL FOOD.  We can skimp on a lot of things and feel little to no effect. We can drive our old car another year, wear that overcoat another season, clean up the pc’s hard drive and forego buying a new one for now—but the one thing NOT to skimp on  is what we put into our bodies.

Quality food is expensive, there is no getting around it. But it is far cheaper to support the body’s health than it is to heal a body when it is sick. Qualita’ means you also eat LESS, so you are not buying reams of items, you are just making smaller,  nutrient- rich choices. In the end, it is not as expensive to eat well as it would seem.

So today, when you head to the supermarket, put down the cookies and lift up the kale; bypass the fruit punch and head toward the aqua minerale;  leave the fatty slabs of beef in the meat case and go for the powerful goodness of a simple bag of dry beans.

When you choose Qualita’ in food you are also saying YES to a better quality of life.

Buon appetito!