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Posts Tagged ‘#thesweetlife’

Have you ever tried really sour candies? You know, the kind that makes your tongue roll back in your mouth and your lips pucker and your eyes squint. After having such a rude sour experience, tasting something sweet seems even more sweet, more enjoyable.

In Italian the sweet life is translated, la dolce vita. In contrast the sour life is translated la vita acida. Those translations make sense as I say them, for acida sounds so … acidic.

Contrasts such as sour and sweet make me think of the book of Ecclesiastes.

Recently, while on vacation, I sought out the following verse from Ecclesiastes, as it’s meaning kept echoing throughout our time away:

“On a good day, enjoy yourself;
On a bad day, examine your conscience.
God arranges for both kinds of days
So that we won’t take anything for granted.”

Ecclesiastes 7:14 MSG

Our vacation was day, after day, after day of good days. We heard good speakers, ate delicious foods, saw beautiful sights, walked in the sun and on the sand, caught up on the lives of friends, rested, laughed frequently, planned, dreamed and simply loved each other. It was pure delight.

It is a place we visit annually … but every year is not equally good.

Some years there are things that hinder the good of the day(s). Maybe we were particularly tired, or preoccupied, or ill, or not one with each other in a multitude of ways. Those are the the bad days.

I much prefer the good to the bad days. They simply feel so … good.

One reason that they feel so good is that I also know what it is to have bad days. Those days when we just do not connect, when our joy is drowned out by the dark and twisties of real, human life. When the beauty and blessing around us is shadowed by the other, darker side of human existence.

I love the reminder that Solomon gives us that “on a good day, enjoy yourself.” There is nothing said about feeling guilty when good comes our way, no condemnation for a day of blessings … just the instruction to experience it, for what it is … good … sweet! When la dolce vita is your experience of the day (or season) take joy in it!

Just a chapter later, seems to be affirmation of enjoying the sweet life:

“a man hath no better thing under the sun,
than to eat, and to drink, and to be merry”
(Ecclesiastes 8:15)

The line that follows intrigues me in that it contrasts the sweet life, with a bit of acid, “on a bad day, examine your conscience.” In this translation, examine is often replaced with consider, but in the Hebrew the verb is raah (pronounced raw-aw) and it means to see. So another way to read this line might be “on a bad day, take a look at your life.”

When things are bad, it can be a season to reflect on where our priorities are and a chance to rely on the faithfulness of God, in bad times of the past. We often learn and grow during sour times.

I hear Job (2:10) asking “”shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?”

There is a harmony that is given when we experience both the sweet and sour, the good and bad. The good gives us energy for the bad, the bad gives us joy in the good. Having the experience of both reminds us to not take the good days for granted, but to be thankful for the times when life is sweet.

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It started as a gift, IMG_1770

No …

it started as a surprise,

No …

it started as a wish,

No …

it started as a dream that I failed to have the imagination to dream.

As I boarded the Europe-bound airliner, I was steeping off of North American soil for the first time. My final destination, Florence, Italy, for La Dolce Vita Creative (Women’s) Retreat.

IMG_1157

Hubby had surprised me, at Christmas, with this amazing trip, but he was not alone, for the brilliant mind behind La Dolce Vita Creative Lifestyle Retreats also happens to be my sweet friend, Carolyn Peeler.

Carolyn is a most humble, capable and creative woman, with a confident gentleness that warms the cockles of ones heart, when in her presence.

So, in May of this year, I landed in Florence, checked into my accommodation, and entered into the most delightful adventure of my life.

What followed was beauty, the freshest of food flavours, welcoming people, history to see and touch and walk upon, unique items to purchase, classes to attend, and the most beautiful group of creative, welcoming, helpful and unforgettable women.

We were taught, nourished, entertained and our cups were ever-full (in every way).

We shopped at the market in Lucca, walked the streets of Siena, were given a cooking class and meal prepared by a Michelin chef, in the castle of a Count, we slept in the estate of a Renaissance-era home, with family ties to a Catholic Cardinal of the past. We toured churches, aged streets, arched alleyways, and met gifted artisans.

But, it was the individuals who attended the retreat which made it truly memorable.

It is just our unique and beautiful group who shared life in Tuscany for that week. We awoke each morning and complimented each other’s outfit for the day. Were enjoyed entertainment by our California-duo, who made us laugh ’til tears flowed down our cheeks. We shared in affection for the animals that lived on the estate. We worried for our friend who lost her purse, with many offering practical helps. We struggled to find the grid on our camera phones, create floral arrangements, and pick glass that broke in the swimming pool. We slowed our pace when walking with some, or availed our shoulder when a bus ride was long. We took pictures of each other, with each other. We shared bottles of local wine, and rushed excitedly to our rooms to see what treasures were left on our beds while we dined on local foods over a leisurely dinner. We supported each other when our back hurt, our head hurt or our heart ached. We hung our undies on the same clotheslines and saw that, in Italy, if you want to take a donkey home, there is no delay in it’s creation.

Returning home we were happy to reunite with those we love, but, like the finish of a dear novel, when it was over a part of us longed for the characters who we had so grown to care for, to love.

It was a divine appointment that we would all be there, together, for a week of wonder.

 

As the plane began to rise toward the sky, leaving Florence behind me, my eyes began to overflow, with longing for more, with longing to return to this place, and the magic that was created by Carolyn Peeler:

“I was dreaming about organizing and hosting my own international retreat. Each week has been different from the one before because of how attendees interact with each other, the special guests, and the experiences I have organized. It has been a blessing to meet women from around the world who show up with their hearts wide open to accept new friends, opportunities and challenges in the most wonderful way. This is what makes La Dolce Vita special… the women who set out on an adventure ready to embrace all that it is. For this, I am thankful – together we have made some lifelong memories!”

Today, at 9am PST, registration for La Dolce Vita Creative Lifestyle Retreat opens. May I recommend this retreat to you, from one creative soul to another. May I let you know that you will be so well cared for, so well loved.

But, may I warn you, it will change you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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