The Italy trip came at a point in my life where I was simply exhausted - there's no other way to say it - exhausted physically, spiritually, emotionally and creatively. While the American work ethic is something I've always admired, I've had difficulty with rest. It's not something I'm proud of, but my default in the past has been to work myself to such a point of exhaustion that I think my body finally says "enough" and shuts down (& I get sick). It's a terrible cycle! The message of working from a place of rest rather than "resting" from work (because you have exhausted yourself) is one that's really resonated with me recently & reminds me of the gift that Italy gave to me - one that I'm trying to keep at the forefront of my mind - to enjoy life.
The idea is not that as Americans we should take more vacations (though I do believe the Europeans have us beat in that area), it's the enjoyment of the little things - the everyday. I loved the mid-morning espresso break for instance - this is not your quick 10 minute jaunt to the break room for a refresh on your morning drip. No, this is a time to step away from whatever you're doing, meet your friends at a small cafe in the middle of town and enjoy not only a high quality coffee (this is Italy after all), but a time to be with people. Not on social media checking your "likes" on Facebook, but an actual break to sit with your friends and connect.
At the Making Things Happen conference we did this exercise where we visualized what our life would look like when we're 80 years old (and if you haven't taken the time to think through this, I encourage you to do so). Now, what did you envision? For most people, there's an element of relationships - family or friends, etc. Not that social media is bad, but who thinks about their life at 80 and says "I wish I had more followers on Instagram?"
Now, back to Italy. My sister & I were sitting at an adorable little cafe in Ravello (pictured below) enjoying the sunshine, watching the Italians converse over their mid-morning espressos and life just seemed perfect. I turned to my sister & we made a pact (complete with pinky promise) that when we returned home, we'd take time to stop and enjoy life together whether that meant breaking from work to grab a coffee, going to brunch or spending an afternoon by the pool. Because at the end of the day, we only have one life to live - let's spend it wisely and remember to spend time creating memories with the ones we love.