Do you ever hear this idea that we are all connected as part of ONE divine mysterious thread?
At first I tried to grasp what it meant literally.
It helped me to know that we are made up of energy categorized in 4 broad categories: emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual. This last type was the most intriguing.
Who we are has a divine element that connects us.
The other energies are the human ways we express ourselves in the material world – with our mind, body, and emotions.
Why does this matter?
How often have you met someone who happens to know someone you know? That freaky kind of connection that seems beyond chance…is it really just a small world?
How can I instantly connect with a stranger in Tuscany – an ayurdevic consultant from Quebec (bottom left), meanwhile others I’ve known my whole life can feel like a total stranger?
Agriturismo Marciano, Siena
What is it exactly between you, and your connections that either resonates or feels like a void?
The Adventure Begins..
I flew to Rome to celebrate our 20th anniversary in late August. I read “whatever you do, don’t drive in Italy“…after I’d booked the rental car.
My vision of driving through Tuscany to visit the little towns, and experience their spirit of food, wine, passion, charm, art, and people – suddenly felt like a bad idea.
Have you ever felt your dreams being squelched by the worries and fears of others? The naysayers – learn to avoid them.
Although the one way streets, and roundabouts were a bit challenging – with a GPS, and a surprise upgrade from a Fiat 500 to an Audi A3 we zoomed around the Italian countryside how I envisioned.
No tour bus was going to reach the places I wanted to see or give us the freedom to follow our own agenda.
Paying Attention to the Magic..
Does your soul light up when you travel? When I’m outside my regular comfort zone, new ‘signs’ show up literally, and figuratively.
11’s have been one of my ‘signs’ since I was a little girl usually showing up as 11:11, but now in ways I least expect, yet magically perfect moments to remind me there’s a higher force at play.
I expected gorgeous landscapes, breathtaking artwork, and grand cathedrals -I wasn’t disappointed. But it meant little without the respective stories to bring through a connection I could feel so we did the tours, and met with the people.
When we arrived a bit late driving from Rome for a cooking class with owner Dania at La Chuisa (a Michelin Star Restaurant) in Montefollonico, we were invited to sit, and have a cappuccino.
Relax, savour, enjoy…they are so good at this in Italy.
Drinking coffee this way is so opposite to the caffeine rush it’s become in our busy lives. I picture this moment to remind myself to slow down.
Dania was a former law student who followed her passion for cooking. How can you not be inspired to do what you love with that view?
Spending a few hours with Dania teaching us traditional Tuscan cuisine was magical. There’s an ease, and joy in how she prepares food, and appreciates its freshness, and creation. After 40 years, it’s part of her essence.
Making ricotta stuffed zucchini flowers, La Chuisa.
After several courses of creating, and eating, we could barely move. We had to relax by her olive trees before heading out!
Italy’s pizzas are my all time favourite, and wherever we went that was my pick!
You may be asking, how do I not gain weight? I do – a few lbs here and there, but my secret is maintaining a steady high vibration of genuine JOY. Toxic energy (stress) holds onto excess weight.
When you are in the flow of all 4 energies working together in a healthy balance, you can let go of whatever you don’t want more easily because your energy is focused on what you want.
We walked A LOT, and my regular fitness routine (a 7 minute App & pilates once a week) plus healthy eating for the most part built a foundation that allows me to indulge when the opportunity arises. I didn’t hold back!
Have you ever wondered why the statue of David attracts a million people annually worldwide? Some are willing to wait in the burning heat for hours for that feeling of total awe when they see David for the first time.
He’s the biblical youth with a stone, and sling against a powerful giant he manages to conquer. Who doesn’t cheer for the innocent child?
The perfect muscular bod standing casually before battle with no armour or sword ready to face his own possible death. Don’t we all want to go through life with that ease looking amazing despite what we face?
The beauty carved in marble at this astounding level of artistry comes from a divine place few of us ever reach, but all of us are seeking in some form.
These are the invisible threads that connect us..
I loved Siena thanks to our passionate guide Claudia. I booked her based on high ratings on Viator, and we ended up with a private tour : )
I’m a curious gal, and had tons of questions she could answer. We saw her later doing an afternoon tour with a group of 8…
As Claudia described the famous Palio de Siena (horse race), which had already taken place involving Siena’s 17 districts, I finally got a sense of where the Italian ‘undying passion, and rivalry’ comes from.
Here’s what that day looks like:
Piazza del Campo, Siena
10 districts compete. It’s apparently better not to win than lose to your rival (usually a neighbouring district). Allies have formed over the years.
You are born into a district where you remain loyal your whole life. It weaves into every major life event – baptism, marriage, funeral. Festivals, and holidays get celebrated with your district.
The pride, and connection here is strong. Imagine centuries of love, devotion, battles, having to defend, and protect, built into your DNA, and social culture?
We all want to belong – to a family, group of friends, church, community — it’s at a whole other level here; this sense of being part of a community flows across Italy.
Passion, loyalty, rivalry..I can see how the mafia was born here, and how Italians are famous for their intensity in love. Two sides to every coin.
What surprised me most?
The black and white stripes adorning the Duomo Cathedral in Siena.
Stripes! It seemed out of place with the Renaissance style.
Turns out there was an Arabic influence known as the ablaq architectural style of alternating light with dark stones that could be traced back to Syria.
The same place where millions of refugees have fled, while millions of tourists flock to admire their inspired work from centuries ago.
It felt like a strange, and sad paradox.
Colours of green (hope), white (charity), and red (love) on buildings were used to communicate the values to the many who were illiterate. It also defined the spirit of Italy: Christian faith, giving, and passion.
We found it amusing to learn that one of the ways people ‘gave’ was to donate their valuables to the church in the hope they would spend less time in purgatory (an intermediary state after death to ‘cleanse you of sin’ before heaven).
The origin of guilt!
The Italian Spirit
I reflected on how humanity would have evolved had Roman Emperor Constantine not had a vision of the cross with his soldiers that he believed led to his victory. He became the sole ruler of the Roman Empire, and first Christian Emperor.
Arch of Constantine, Rome – commemorating hs victory.
The most savage persecutions, and barbaric entertainment at the colleseum ended with Christianity becoming the state religion in A.D. 324 under his rule. December 25th was the last day of a Roman pagan festival…makes you wonder if Christmas was invented in Rome.
His laws created a better, more compassionate world outlawing infanticide, the abuse of slaves and peasants, crucifixion, and making Sunday a day of rest.
As quickly as it began, our 11-day adventure was over, and I was back to my own reality. The centuries of experiences that found their way into the lives of people, places, and meals I got to take home.
I will remember the sound of the tower bells ringing, stunning cathedrals, endless grapevines, and colour of the olive trees.
I will miss the gourmet pizzas, gelato, and my favourite new wine – La Torre Chianti (Reserva 2011) we shared on our anniversary in Arezzo.
I won’t forget walking by armed military personnel whose presence increased in both Florence, and Rome after the Paris attacks.
Walking through the vatican, I couldn’t help but focus on this mural of the resurrection of Jesus. His crucification is everywhere, but it’s our faith in the hope he brought that I believe this world needs desperately.
The belief that we can overcome what caused his death in the first place: the judgment of those who condemned him. That he forgave them for “knowing not what they do” is what it means not to judge someone despite being crucified. It’s the most difficult practice to master, but will set you free.
I will treasure the people we were privileged to spend time with, and the stories they shared that gave me a great glimpse into this beautiful country.
I made a point to record my experiences in a book that happened to be both a journal and guide to Tuscany from my friend Dawn-Angela who holds art classes there. Can you imagine? You can check her website out here. It was on my shelf for years before I had any real plans to visit Tuscany..another sign?
I’ll remember how after 20 years we can still have fun, laugh, share, and explore new places in our marriage, and continue to grow spiritually on our own individual, and connected path.
Where will you be travelling next? Create a vision of your experience, and some unimaginable threads will form to help it manifest. It’s all in the way we are connected.
P.S. What was hanging on a wall on our last walk through the streets of Tuscany..