The Slow Food Movement originated in Italy. It is no surprise then that Italians rank one of the highest countries in terms of longevity. Italians live to be a whopping 83 years old!
I did not realize I was living a fast paced life until I received certain signals from others around me in Italy. When I began to look around me, I realized I was multi tasking, stressed and definitely not living the Tuscan lifestyle I had envisioned. In fact I was even more restless in Italy then I had been in Los Angeles. After many years of observing and researching the Italian lifestyle, I learned and am learning the steps to live slower and simpler.
I would say the first step to slowing down is knowing it is time to make some changes. The following are the five ways to know you need to slow down:
1. You speak fast. Often times you do not let others finish speaking and you interrupt them. While speaking you are thinking about the next thing you have to do. You are not attentively listening to the other person.
2. You walk fast. You walk fast even if it is not for exercise purposes. You don't know how to stroll. You are always in a hurry.
3. You multitask. You are constantly doing more then one activity at a time. You have not finished one thing before you start another. You multitask also in thoughts. You are doing one thing but thinking of another.
4. You eat fast and have poor eating habits. You don't sit down at a table and slowly consume your meal. You usually do not chew your food at least 20 times before swallowing. You do not eat healthy meals. You don't take the time to drink at least 8 glasses of water daily. You eat or drink standing up, on the go, or at your desk.
5. You cannot just BE. You find it difficult to just sit still and relax. You cannot be without an electronic gadget (computer, television, phone,etc). You become fidgety.
To learn more about taking the steps to living a slower and simpler lifestyle get my ebook
"Living the Italian Lifestyle: A Self-improvement Program for Living a Slower, Simpler, More Fulfilling Life Anywhere"
What is minimalist dressing? Why do I need to master it? How will this tiny change in my life grant me loads of free time? Minimalist dressing is dressing by removing the superfluous or constitutes a style that uses pared down essentials. The Italians have always used this concept and they not only look impeccable but probably don't spend hours trying to figure out what to wear. There are only three requirements: the clothes must be clean; the clothes must be in good condition; the clothes must fit properly.
Genuine Italian Pizza Dough
The following is one of my many simple recipes taken from my ebook "Living the Italian Lifestyle."
The secret to a good pizza is making genuine Italian pizza dough. Can this only be learned through years of experience? Absolutely not. All you need is the right formula, the correct ingredients, and a good working oven. You can literally make the dough in five minutes time.
Lucia's Genuine Italian Pizza Dough and Pizza
The cooking time is 20 minutes. This recipe makes approximately 2 medium-size pizzas.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
3 full cups of flour (type 0)
1 cube of fresh yeast
Lukewarm water (1 cup approx)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Dash of salt
Tomato sauce or peeled tomatoes (1 can or 16 oz)
Olive oil (3 tablespoons)
Dash of salt
Dry mozzarella (1 pound)
Butter for greasing pizza pans
Heat 1 cup of water with the fresh yeast. The water should be only lukewarm and not hot. Use a fork to break up the yeast as best as possible in the water.
In a mixing bowl, add flour and make a hole in the middle where you will then add the water and yeast mixture slowly, working the flour first with a fork and then slowly with your hands. The mixture should be sticky and not dry. If it is dry, add more lukewarm water. If it is too wet, add more flour. The consistency is key. Add a tablespoon of olive oil to help knead the dough. Leave it in a ball in the same mixing bowl and cover with a clean damp kitchen towel.
Let rise at least 1 hour, but 2 hours is best.
After dough has risen, you should knead it some more by putting some olive oil on your fingers to work it.
Butter the pizza pan and then drizzle flour on it. You can now shape the dough on the pan. Use a bit of olive oil to help you shape it, making sure it does not tear. The dough should be thin but not so thin as to tear.
Next, spread the tomato mixture (tomato, olive oil, salt) on the dough evenly.
Lastly, evenly scatter grated mozzarella cheese over pizza. Drizzle with very little olive oil (always extra virgin olive oil).
Bake in oven at 400 degrees F for 20 minutes or until crust is golden color. Enjoy.
I really was not aware that my restless and anxious feelings were mostly caused by myself and by my attitude. I believed that "outside factors" were the cause of most of stress. I realized after many many years that the Italians around me had the same stresses that I had and many had much worse situations to deal with. How then I asked myself are they able to be so resilient? I wanted what they had and I was on a quest to find it.
In my program "Living the Italian Lifestyle...Anywhere," I discuss how the first step to living a slower and simpler life is by doing an honest self assessment. There are worksheets one can print or download and spaces where you judge how you do certain activies as walk, talk, eat, exercise, sleep, and many more. When I did my own assessment I was amazed how my anxiousness translated into almost every area of my life. It affected how I communicated with my children, how I ate, how my thought patterns were. It was a huge eye opener for me and really showed me how I needed to take steps to change things.
Certain things made me realize it was time to slow down. When my youngest child was a toddler he made me notice that I was multitasking and it was a no no. I was helping him put on his sweater while he was still putting on his pants. He basically told me I was making him fast, which translated was I was making him nervous. Not only was I making him nervous but I was teaching him what not to do.
Another bad habit of mine that showed me I needed to slow down was that I was impatient when others would talk. I found myself interrupting with an answer even before the other person finished the question. Bad.
I burned soup because I was multitasking. How do you burn soup? Well you leave the water in the pot so long that it just dwindles away until you have a burning pot on your hands.
Another obvious sign was I was constantly checking emails, social media sites and online newspapers. Here again one of my children was smart to point out that mommy is always on her phone so why cannot he always be on his nintendo? The online newspaper reading was not only frequent but would create mental baggage that would upset my sleep.
There were so many signs that I needed to slow down and that I was causing this situation not any outside source. It was then that I began to look at the Italians and really analyze some of the ways they approach life and the slower Italian lifestyle.
I am no cleaner then the next person but I have learned that doing certain things will save me loads of time. Decluttering is one of those tasks which may seem daunting but if you do it correctly will not only be a source of peacefulness but will also in the long run free up your time.
If you think about it you realize that clutter is a worldwide problem. All of our neighbors across the globe deal with this issue. You deal with it at home, in your automobile, at your office, everywhere.
Italians may have the heads up on clutter just because homes in Italy tend to be smaller and lack built in closets. Garages are smaller and many do not have garages. So space is limited meaning you just cannot physically stock up on things. After years in Italy I realized I would have to do away with all those things I just don't need or use because frankly there was no space for them and because they translated into heaviness and busyness.
I decided I would declutter in one day. This is how I did it and this is how you can do it:
I took on one small area at a time. For me it was my kitchen. I took three large bags : one was the recycle bag, one was the donate bag and one was the throw away bag. I then went through all the visible shelves and took off everything that was not necessary to cooking. I eliminated :
-all those knick knacks that collect dust and grease
-decorative bowls that cannot be used for food because of possible lead poisoning
-tickets to past events I had kept as momentoes*
-tea set I had bought in China (possible lead poisoning)
-gadgets I had never used
I then went into the drawers and did the same. I was on a mission. Here I eliminated stained table covers, place mats, cloth napkins.
I then finished off with the pantry. Here I went wild and eliminated all those expired items that were just sitting there.
The kitchen was done and it took less then 30 minutes.
I took my same mission to the bathroom, the living room, the bedrooms. I finished the entire house in one marning and one part of the same afternoon. I spent a maxium of 3.5 hours total.
You can declutter in one day. I did it. I suggest that you do it in parts. For instance do one room and then go take a break and do something else. Go outside. Then pick up and do another room. This way it will be less daunting and even enjoyable.
The real joy comes at the end when you look around and really feel lighter!
* I suggest that you take a picture of a momento and then eliminate it. It is not the thing that gives us great memories but the good feelings we get when we look at it.