One of the things I absolutely love about living in London is the opportunity to take weekend vacays in Europe. Back in Australia where our nearest holiday destinations like Bali or Thailand are over 7 hours away, it was a fantasy that has definitely cropped up many times in my life. Now, it’s our reality, and some days I do have to pinch myself when we wake up in beautiful Italian coastal towns on a sunny Saturday morning.
A couple of weekends ago was our first trip to Italy, where we popped over to Venice for the weekend. And while it is a cliché to say it is a city of love and romance, I did actually fall in love with life all over again. Spending quality time with my boyfriend, eating food and drinking wine in the sun was time for us to relax, laugh and reconnect. Not only that, but I also fell madly in love with the locals, seeing how vibrant and animated they were and just loving everything about life was a welcome change to the shoulder-barging grimy tube tunnels in London.
While the big bustling international cities are fun, lively and exciting in their own way, without knowing it can slowly chip away at you, hardening your character, your patience and at times your kindness to others. It can make you forget to slow down and enjoy life, and spending time people watching the locals in Venice brought to my attention a few things that maybe I could do more of in my life…
They are not afraid to express emotion
While waiting for our plane to take off, I was sitting next to a couple who were squabbling passionately in Italian. Whispering aggressively their hand movements looked like they were ready to kill each other. They stopped speaking for about 5 minutes, backs turned. Then, the man wrapped his arms around her and she started crying and babbling, which was then followed by passionate, unapologetic kissing. I was both shocked and intrigued, but even more so I was actually a little envious of their ability to express themselves so freely, without fear of judgement.
Showing emotion is seen as a weakness or irrational, and I do wonder if it is a contributor to why we’re so unhappy! How can acting like robots and not allowing ourselves to experience and embody the full spectrum of emotions ever lead to living a happy and fulfilling life? Isn’t it for this reason that so many people get to their deathbeds and regret not telling the people they love how they truly felt?
They savour life in the slow lane
I have to say that James and I are now fully accustomed to the frantic London life. If you’re not power walking everywhere with angry crowds roaring up behind you they will make sure you get trampled (and god forbid the ‘seek assistance’ sign pops up at the tube gate!) Fast forward to our first few hours wondering the quaint little streets of Venice it was hard to get out of that rush mentality. It took a few hours to readjust and just breathe it all in. We found a gorgeous waterfront restaurant mid afternoon overlooking the grand canal and just sat in the sun, relaxing with a few bottles of Pinot Grigio and talking about life, our dreams and aspirations. We forgot the check list of things to see and do and decided on a whim to just get drunk and laugh together in the setting sun. In everyday life we’re too busy to actually just sit, relax, connect and watch people walk by. I can definitely say, spending time in the slow lane does make you happier.
They ditch the diet and eat what they want
There is no denying that Italian food is the bomb, but something that I love even more is that the concept of ‘dieting’ is non-existent. I mentioned in an older post why having perfect health is sending me to an early grave that I was obsessed with clean eating, yet had a range of allergies and was diagnosed IBS. At the time I was also highly strung, anxious and totally obsessed with what I put in my mouth. These days, I eat what I want – which is maybe a bit unhealthy at times but it’s balanced. My stress is under control and what I’ve found really amazing is I haven’t had a single reaction or any symptoms of IBS since relaxing my attitude to food. Even after eating all the foods that were making me reacting. While this is only my experience, it does make me wonder if there is an argument for some allergies and IBS to be closely linked as a symptom of poor mental health. Stressing and obsessing over the calories, carbs and fat content of food inevitably raises cortisol levels and makes your body store fat anyway! So maybe we should take note of the Italians who, rather than seeing food as the enemy, they see it as something to be enjoyed, savoured and shared with the people they love.