“You may have the universe if I may have Italy.”
― Giuseppe Verdi
“What is the fatal charm of Italy? What do we find there that can be found nowhere else? I believe it is a certain permission to be human, which other places, other countries, lost long ago.” –Erica Jong
Hello wonders! I just returned from an epic 3 week viaggio in Italia. This trip did not underwhelm in any way, as it held all the grandiose aesthetics you couldn’t possibly imagine with one mind. Italians love to please the senses and do it in a way that at times is so mind-blowing, one must surrender and slow down to fully enjoy it and take it in. Not only did I become a cappuccino aficionado (and a makacino, macchiato, ciocolato croissant and all the variations) but I also ate a lot of bread. And insanely delicious pasta. Pretty much every single day. I relished in these things without the cloud of doubt or guilt that can hover us and our tedious standards of what is good or bad. So with this honoring of sweet pleasures I kept thinking, these Italians are on to something. Maybe we REALLY do need to release this idea of perfection or right/wrong. Maybe it should be more like Oscar Wilde wrote: “It is absurd to divide people into good and bad. People are either charming or tedious.” Which can be said the same for varying cultures or parts within it.
So the Soul Painting retreat in Tuscany felt so sweetly charming! I truly fell in love with every woman there. Sometimes words feel too small or limiting to describe such an experience. Logistically speaking it was not without its challenges, and a couple (more than a couple actually) angels really did come through to make the retreat as special as it was. One night about 6 or 7 of us were crammed into the little hot tub overlooking the Chianti Hills, sharing stories of love and loss, what happens when women come together in the name of warming the creative spirit (I feel it’s like a magical safe alchemy or haven) and so forth, and I was struck with how temporary this all is. Life is but a dream, so flickering, so tender and transitory. One must take risk in life to receive again. One must put forth a sincere effort for the things they wish to receive. One must ask wholeheartedly and with a humility that is grateful for the simplicity of this existence itself, saying ‘thank you’ and ‘and yes life, I am ready for this.’ Let us remember to not hold ourselves back anymore or be our own worst enemy. Let us know that we are enough, more than enough, or like Hafiz says: “I wish I could show you when you are lonely or in darkness the astonishing light of your own being.“
Such things are the reminders I wish to have emboldened into the curvature of my heart. Last winter I went through a very tough time (read: break up) and I was in the darkness of my being, the hole underground. My partner at the time moved out and it felt like a mini-divorce, one which did not go well, even with my sincerest hopes that it would. Some break ups are just too painful. My hope was that we were going to live a life of love together, but challenges kept coming up that felt too big to surmount, and that inner voice inside kept saying loud and clearly: no, not like this. So I sought help. I asked, prayed, and surrendered. Help did indeed come. I cannot thank those human angels enough for holding such light and truth around me. It felt like a huge dream of having a family was dying for me and I was beginning to not believe in monogamous committed relationships anymore. I felt like a failure. So as previously mentioned, I really effing let go. Then one day I had two conversations with two teachers/friends of mine that forever changed my perspective. I realized for how long I had held myself back to love. How subconsciously I had been wallowing (over say my divorce for one) for too many years. What is the reason I could not truly be met? If I do truly desire to be met in partnership, what would that really look like? What would he be like? What values would he have and what would it feel like to share love with him? Would he like to meditate like me? Would he love Rilke, Mary Oliver, and Hafiz as much as I do? Would he love and excel in a creative career? Would he have the most beautiful large blue eyes and softest smile? Well, yes, he could really have those things. If I knew how to let him in.
Guess what, in just a few days after I deeply meditated on this he did show up. A few days after that we had our first date. Months after that and we have just returned from Italy…. I will write more about this soon. It is really that good. Life, you never stop surprising us do you?
Xo ~ alena