I finished reading Eat Pray Love this week. I read the very last page of Elizabeth Gilbert's memoir tucked in my bed, wrapped in fluffy white sheets with the twinkly lights I threaded through my bed frame for better reading light illuminating the page.
This book about adventure that I'd tucked into my backpack for my own two-week twirl through various magical Italian cities was finally over. It was perfect, and I totally recommend it for anyone needing some adventure who can't just jet off overseas for a month. It will take you there. It will make you take a deep breath and realize there's so much more to our world than what our little hands can hold.
It's the sweetest reminder that life is so much bigger and more beautiful than the little stresses we wrap ourselves in and convince our hearts are the biggest, baddest things that ever existed.
It's been about a month since I returned from my Italian adventure, and I'd be lying if I didn't feel my heart swell whenever I look at pictures or text my mom a joking message about packing my suitcase so we can go back.
A little less than a week in Rome, a couple of nights in Sorrento, a couple more in Positano and a strong finish in Florence. The perfect combination of history, beauty, leisure and a completely excessive, not at all balanced, inhalation of pasta, pizza and wine.
It was perfect.
I took my wig out and wore my natural hair. I wore as much and as little make up as I wanted to, exactly how I wanted to wear it. I wore outfits I loved. I twirled in the lack of expectations, and I savored the freedom. I posted the looks that I felt glowed and tucked my phone in my pocket when I saw things that took my breath away. I felt no shame for posting what I wanted and felt no obligation to document every moment.
I was free. I was full.
I was enamored with the little old men who frequented the little bakery next to our apartment in Rome. The same faces every morning. Sipping an espresso, munching on the same flavored croissant and reading the paper. Smoking cigarettes, trading conversations and curious looks.
I was fascinated by the chic Italian women who's outfits were stellar and whose lack of effort was almost palpable. The cinch of the belt in exactly right spot, the most perfect messy buns and a blatant indifference. I loved it all.
Italians are known for enjoying their lives. I heard so many people make jokes about how Americans do too much, work too hard and stress in a way that's nonsensical. And while I'm not a fan of blanket statements, I can look at that sentence and admit that I live that way more days than I would like to admit.
This vacation was a blessing in many ways, but I left feeling more myself than I had in months. I left more in love with myself, more excited about my future and more aware of God's goodness.
In between plates piled high with homemade pasta and bottles of dry white wine, I remembered that forgetting to enjoy your life is a waste of time and a slap in the face to a God who's given so much and so freely.
While climbing hundreds of steps to see different nuggets of history, I remembered that our whole world is so beautiful and was created so lovingly and intentionally- myself included.
While spending an entire day in a city off the coast lounging at the pool, only pausing to jump in for a few minutes from time to time, I realized that it's okay to not always be in a hurry trying to get to the next thing. And for a few magical seconds, while swimming off the Amalfi Coast, I took a second to look up at the cliff sides filed with homes, shops and eateries, and I let myself remember that it's all okay.
Life is good, and it will all be okay.
I started reading Eat Pray Love at the end of the trip, and I chuckled about some of the comments Elizabeth Gilbert made about Italy and its food and people because I understand now.
As much as I wish I could jet off to Europe every time I want to relax, I know that isn't how my life is set up. And it's okay. It's better than okay. I will never forget my life-changing two weeks of Italian goodness. I also won't forget how calm, ready and unbothered about small things I was when I got back and went back to work.
As you do this life thing, don't forget to be yourself. Don't forget to chew your food and enjoy it. Don't forget to spend money on the experiences that will leave you breathless. Don't forget to wear what you want as much as you can.
A sweet life is not some magical concept reserved for everyone else but you. It's not just for vacation. It's also something no person, bad day or situation should have the power to take from you.
If you live your best life every day, I think you'll find your best life in the every day.
And I can't think of many things that are better than that.
With Love & Glitter,