"Unchain my heart, oh baby let me go ..... " Ray Charles sang it best! This hypnotic melody told the story of heartache and love. Straddling two continents, diverse cultures, and a foreign language, there are times I sing that song when it's been a particular frustrating day as an expat. To be an expat, it is a bit of a love affair, why else would you give up the comforts of your own country and then wind your way around a seemingly endless road of red tape to be somewhere else. But then something wonderful happens, like seeing three shooting stars race by in the dark night above the Adriatic. Or finding a fantastic Trattoria off the beaten path ... at a gas station no less in the middle of the countryside. Or soaking up the warm rays of sunshine in November against a stone wall that is nearly 1,000 years old. Yesterday, I was walking up to our office in Torre di Palme and ran into a friend. We were chatting a bit and then Michel came walking down Via Piave, the center cobbled street in Torre. Soon a few other people meandered over because in front of our office, a very nice bench was perfectly poised in the sunshine. It drew a small crowd where we all enjoyed conversation and laughter for about 15 minutes. People, of various economic status and life, were sharing a moment in the sun. Those are the magic moments for me. Spontaneous fun, sincere friendships, and diverse views that ignite lively conversation and often a flame of creativity. So instead, the classic song Peggy Lee sang, "It's a good day, to have a good day..." popped into my head and I went about my day, mostly to tackle the dangling items on my "to do" list before we are in the thick of olive harvest next week.
We've been visiting our producers daily and in this photo, Michel is checking out neighboring olives that are coming in. As we press forward with our new venture, we talk about how much our life has changed. Originally it was the food, weather, culture and beauty that pulled us to Italy, mostly for vacation and relaxation. Now, it's the global education, relationships and pace of life that adds another layer of contentment. This month marks the 3rd anniversary when we went out on a limb and bought our home in Italy. It was a week after our 10th wedding anniversary, we took a deep breath and took the plunge! Our dream for retiring and sinking quietly in the Italian countryside was beckoning for those aging years to come. But after many trips of skipping across the pond from Oregon to Torre di Palme, it was getting exhausting. It was nearly impossible get the place liveable 6,000 miles away. So after a year and half and five transcontinental trips door to door, we took a six-month sabbatical, which has now turned into a year and half of living in Italy! Our vacation home has turned into a real home and ideals of basking in the sun has turned into a new business venture with Casal Cristiana Italian Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
What we have discovered is that setting a life course is important but to recognize that sometimes a detour can lead you somewhere you never imagined. And it just might be a good thing too! If someone would have told us that we would be living in Italy and starting a new business three years ago, we would have looked at that person cross eyed and said "Are you crazy?"! But here we are. We are on the brink of starting our first olive harvest for our premier bottling of Casal Cristiana Italian Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Our Founding Members of Casal Cristiana's Viva Verde Club have helped us bring an idea to reality. Thank you! Grazie infinite! My heart is unchained. It's been set free with the understanding that ideals are in your head. There's no utopia. There are varying degrees of comfort and stress wherever you are and whatever life you choose. Right now, we are focused on getting those olives off the trees, pressing the juice and bottling it for you all to enjoy! Thanks to technology, we can continue to connect our worlds together, maintain friendships and bring ideas to life! Viva Verde!