La Dolce Vita – this phrase might either make you dream, or roll your eyes. But one thing is for sure, it is synonymous with Italy.
We decided to name our link up “Dolce Vita Bloggers” for its obvious association with Italy, but also because we hope that the #DolceVitaBloggers community creates a sweet space to connect with other Italophiles.
This is probably one of my favorite #DolceVitaBloggers topics so far because after all, “the sweet life” is what we’re all after. But how do we live the good life? Is it just an impossible ideal perpetuated by Hollywood?
If we can’t dance in the Trevi Fountain at midnight like a carefree and effortlessly stunning Sylvia in Fellini’s La Dolce Vita or buy a villa in the rolling Tuscan hills on a whim like Frances in Under the Tuscan Sun, is “la dolce vita” even possible on a day-to-day basis for those of us living in the real world?
My ingredients for La Dolce Vita:
I thought I would be writing about all of the sweet moments like the breath before a kiss or the sound of chatter and clinking glasses, but I soon realized that connection is what all these moments had in common.
Connection to ourselves
There was a time a few years ago that I felt like my life wasn’t mine when I was working a job that was a wrong fit for me. It was going to Italy that brought me back to myself.
Now, this is probably true in my experience because I’m somewhat on vacation mode in Italy and I’m not paying taxes or trying to find a job there. Sometimes we need to know that it’s okay to just be. Even the Italian experience of leisurely dining for hours is restorative for me; American waiters who bring the bill before I’ve eaten my last bite remind me of the underlying urge to hurry. In the U.S. I constantly feel rushed and stressed and shamefully unproductive if I take a day for myself. So whether it is Italy, or somewhere else, it’s so important to get out of our normal environment to get perspective. Travel allows us to adopt other habits & values that better suit ourselves.
In one of my favorite books, Tuesdays With Morrie, the wise professor says:
“Well, for one thing, the culture we have does not make people feel good about themselves. We’re teaching the wrong things. And you have to be strong enough to say if the culture doesn’t work, don’t buy it. Create your own.” (6.29)
When we free ourselves from outside chatter, we can find out what we truly want and need, instead of what we’re told we should do. When we see beyond the false standards of others (or even ourselves), we can realize that we really are good enough as we are. When we believe in ourselves we have the courage to make that career change or that move abroad. The world is available to us because we know we are already enough.
Connection to each other
How wonderful does it feel to share an inside joke, a memory, or a passion with another? When we feel good about ourselves we can connect with others through a conversation, around the table, or a shared experience.
We need each other in good times and also to get through the difficult ones. In fact, as I am writing this, there are 13 boys trapped in a cave in Thailand. I, along with the whole world, are praying for their miraculous rescue. I read an article that said their ability to survive this ordeal depends on not only food and water, but their ability to draw mental strength from each other.
Another way to maintain mental strength is to draw on any social support available in the situation. This can be a friend or family member: anyone you feel you can count on in a time of need. It is thought that this kind of support can act as a buffer, and when we face danger in good company we perceive the situation to be less threatening than we would if we were alone.
I think the above is true in every day life, and not just a crisis situation. Our ability to bond with others is essential to our well being. We all want to feel that we matter is another lesson from Tuesdays With Morrie. That’s why giving to others feels so good not only to the receiver, but to the giver, too. Giving something as simple as your full attention creates the bond we crave with others.
Lovingly preparing food, breaking bread with others, clinking our glasses and talking about things that matter are my favorite ways to connect with others. Not to mention, I am also grateful for virtual connections with all of you through #DolceVitaBloggers.
Connection to the earth
I grew up camping and hiking in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and though I love a good city escape with good shopping and dining, I always find myself craving nature, especially the mountains or the beach. A nap under the warmth of the sun with the sound of the waves crashing is more restorative than a week of sleep.
Having a home garden or shopping at a local farmer’s market is one of the best ways to connect with the earth. Knowing where your food comes from and playing a part in its growth is one of the miracles of life. A flower that becomes a tomato or zucchini makes you believe in miracles and the abundance of the earth. And nature reminds us that everything happens in its own perfect time.
Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished. -Lao Tzu
Connection to the past, present, and future
As an American, I am fascinated by the ancient history that is still part of the modern landscape in Europe. We learn about history in school, but to see it makes it real. Not to mention, that every modern conveniences that we have are the result of all those who have come before us.
Sometimes it’s hard to balance the past and the future and live in the present. Sometimes I ask myself, “if I weren’t regretting the past or worrying about the future, how would I feel in this moment?” And the answer is most always, “pretty darn good.”
The future is a tricky thing because it’s unknown, which can cause a lot of anxiety. But sometimes, things work out even better than we imagined if we just let go of trying to control the outcome. It’s kind of a catch 22, but worry disconnects us, while letting go connects us to the magic of the universe.
So there it is, my “dolce vita” isn’t a place or a thing, but a feeling of connectedness. Life isn’t always as sweet as an eternal vacation, but connection is what makes it worthwhile.
If you’d like to share your version of “la dolce vita,” you can add your blog post or youtube video here until July 14, 2018. Or, you can always join us for a future #DolceVitaBloggers link up! The topic for August 2018 is culture shock, and you can view the rest of the #DolceVitaBloggers topics for 2018 here.