I know you think you don't have time. I know you think that living like the Italians seems like the ultimate indulgence. Stopping to enjoy life seems like a near impossibility to fit in between school, work, volunteering, grocery shopping and numerous other obligations of every day life. But just as life coaches preach the importance of taking time to meditate, reflect and spend some quality time alone, these little additions to your routine will enhance your life without making you feel like you have just added the straw onto that camel's back.
1. Enjoy Coffee. I don't mean slurping it down over the sink or injecting it directly into your veins. I mean taking some time to have coffee. Italians make time for this everyday. Several times a day. It is as much about the caffeine as it is about the social aspect, not only the people you with whom you go to the cafe but also those who are already there. The barista, the others who always seem to be on the same break schedule, your neighbors who you only see at the local bar. For a primer on ordering coffee in Italy, check out this blog post.
2. Buy flowers. It's amazing how little touches will make everything better. I love the flower stands at the markets in Italy. Bursting with colors and aromas that enhance your mood immediately. Flowers don't have to be expensive and they will make you smile every time you come into your kitchen and see them on the island (ignore the backpacks, lunch boxes and stacks of bills).
3. Express yourself. Italian is a beautiful language. There are some words that are just so perfect. Fit them into your daily vocabulary. You will feel better and people will think you are so very hip. Check out my earlier blog post for some of my favorites!
4. Express yourself - to the max - We all know that Italians are famous for using their hands when they talk. Why do they do that, you ask? Italy was a melting pot of civilizations for centuries. Perhaps the manual communication came from an inability to understand the myriad of languages spoken throughout the peninsula. The language barrier is not a problem now and hand gestures are no longer necessary, but if you try it you will understand just how gratifying it is. Sometimes there is nothing more therapeutic than going beyond verbal communication. I'm not even going to ask you what gestures you use to get a point across. Trying to keep this blog PG.
5. Temporary Escape - no time for a vacation? Put down your iPhone and pick up a book. There is nothing that takes you away like a good book set in a far away land. I am not one for fantasy books but I do love historical fiction. A few of my favorite books that take place in Italy are: The Name of the Rose (Umberto Eco), The English Patient (Michael Ondaatje) and the First Man in Rome series (Colleen McCullough) set in ancient Rome.
6. Shop Daily - believe me, I could not do this every week. Usually my grocery plan consists of a major trip to the store on Saturday along a full day of cooking and freezing on Sunday to prepare for the week of chaos that is our family schedule. Unfortunately, what happens is that by the time we get to Wednesday's assigned dinner, no one is in the mood for it and we somewhat dejectedly eat it for lack of anything else. The Italian way leads to much more spontaneity and is infinitely more satisfying. Responding to what looks good rather than being controlled by a list is so very Italian. Go with the flow, invent on the fly, keep it simple and do what you love. While the wonderful farmers' markets are still open in New England, I am going to take some time this week and browse their offerings. I think that this week's menu is going to be filled with apples, squash, pumpkin and late harvest peppers. Yum.
I wish you all a fabulous week! Whatever you do, remember: la vita è bella!