Dolce Far Niente

Since the Devils season ended, I’ve been forced by both jobs to take a much needed break.  I’m not allowed to clock out after 5:30PM.  I need to clock out at 5:30PM.  No more staying late in the office.  No more hockey writing until the playoff season is over (unless I’m needed in Rangersville). 

Perhaps this is the bosses’ way of saying…you’re burnt out…you need to rest.

[Just funny that it came up in my Tarot cards before both bosses recommended I stop working so much.] 

At first, clocking out at 5:30PM was a difficult task to do.  So I clocked out at 5:44PM (still do…it’s better than 6:30PM or 7:30PM).  Getting home before 7PM has had me wondering what in the world I’m supposed to do with all of this extra time I now have on my hands.  It’s weird.

Do I fill it up with dinner dates, movies, or shows?  No…that gets pretty expensive very quickly.  Do I join a gym?  No…the doctor would overrule it in less than a week (no joke).  Do I start taking classes at NYU?  It’s a possibility, but classes for the summer haven’t started yet.

So what am I to do? 

How about…NOTHING?  Dolce far niente!  (The sweetness of doing nothing.)

Of course, in American society doing absolutely nothing usually entails sitting in front of the television and watching crap all day long.  What Americans consider doing nothing doesn’t embrace the true essence of doing nothing.

So what is a girl to do?

Well, thankfully, it’s spring, which means it’s spring cleaning time.  I picked up a book on de-cluttering at the library and learned some valuable lessons.  I realized that I kept flipping through home magazine after home magazine for things to buy to make the apartment seem nicer (or find pics of things I wanted to add to my future house).  Then I realized, maybe the real issue is not that I’m unhappy with the way the home looks…it’s that I have too much stuff and I don’t know what to do with it all. 

I established some new ground rules.  If an item doesn’t have a home…it’s gone.  If I don’t love it…it’s gone.  If I’m holding on to it because I think I’ll need it later…it’s gone.  I find that I hold onto bags and boxes for presents, but when Xmas comes around, I just have them box it up and wrap it for me because I hate wrapping stuff up.  So I’m holding onto this stuff…WHY?

On Sunday, I washed the slipcover to the couch.  Put it back on (over the cat, because she didn’t want to move…don’t worry, at the last tuck in, I made her get out from under the slipcover), and then repositioned the pillows another way to give it a new look.  The living room looks perfect right now…so we no longer use the living room anymore. 

I know…it doesn’t make sense, but I don’t want to disrupt the chi in the room just yet.

I reorganized the top of my dresser in the bedroom.  I finally put all of those Tiffany boxes to good use.  I realized that as I upgraded my life, I still held on to some of the stuff I bought when I first started out in NYC.  I didn’t let go of it when I upgraded in life.  Instead, I kept looking at it thinking…I hate this thing…but I keep it for its functionality.  I was holding onto the past and not letting go of it when I upgraded my life.

That’s all changed.  Now, the bedroom is filled with things that I love.  The first jewelry box I ever bought when I came to NYC…off to the thrift shops.  The antique tin canister that came from my Grandfather now houses my jewelry.  That piece is something I love.  It brings back great memories…and it’s a beautiful piece.

The plate (where I held all of my Hermes, Vera Wang, Chanel, and Bulgari parfums) I picked up from the Dollar store was not my style at all, but I needed something to display my $100+ parfums on.  That bottle of Vera Wang was the first bottle of parfum that I bought that told me that I had finally made it.  It was that big item purchase I had always lusted for.  Imagine being in the store and realizing, “I can now afford this without breaking the bank or going into debt.” 

Yet, I displayed it on this Dollar store plate.  I hated that plate. 

In my haste to get rid of that thing once and for all, I grabbed the biggest Tiffany box I had and put all of the parfum bottles in it.  I grabbed a smaller Tiffany box and put all of the samples they kept giving me at Saks and at the Dior counters.  I tied a white ribbon around the big Tiffany box and stood back and thought…wow…now, this I love.

It matches that antique tin canister from my Grandfather.

Everything is now PERFECT.

The cat and I spend a lot of time in the bedroom lounging around on the down bed and down pillows.  It’s a comfort zone where I can feel relaxed and at home.  I can flip through magazines, read the latest book on my nightstand, or even watch the latest movie or cartoon.  This is where I do my dolce far niente. 

In the kitchen, I listen to the ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ soundtrack, dance for the cat, and whip up recipes that make my mouth sing.  I flip through Clean Eating magazine and make out my grocery lists.  I re-organize everything.  I make it look like a kitchen I would love cooking in. 

When I do cook, I serve the food on a gold plate I picked up from Neiman Marcus (on sale, of course).  I whip up a fruit smoothie (sans milk products), and drink it from a wine glass.

This is what it means to enjoy the sweetness of doing nothing.  There’s no stress in a decluttered home.  There’s peace and tranquility.  You appreciate the things around you, because you take time to value the things you love, especially when they’re not overwhelming you.  You start to use the things you bought to enhance your enjoyment of life, rather than let it sit there and collect dust. 

It makes cleaning easier (and less time goes into it).  You spend your time enjoying what is in your home, rather than letting your home stress you out and overwhelm you.

Over the years, I’ve picked up special ingredients from the countries I’ve visited.  From London, I have tea from Fortunum & Mason, tzatziki powder from Santorini, Greece, curry powder from Dublin, and chocolates/desserts from Prague.  In a kitchen filled with mementos from all over the world, I try to make sure I re-live those memories through taste, sight and smell.  That’s what makes my kitchen so worldly…and wonderful.

Another thing I decided to do for myself in the art of doing nothing…I decided to prepare for the big month long vacation this fall.  Since the body will be demanding a lot of walking and standing for hours upon hours on end, I decided to start going out and acting like a tourist. 

I walked to the next town and took a look around at what they had to offer.  I found French restaurants, an Irish pub, Mexican restaurants, and lots of other amazing places.  I found a new Thai restaurant that is owned by one of the top Thai chefs in the world.  He also offers cooking classes (sign me up!). 

I stopped to check out the herbs and veggies at the local hardware store that are ready for the planting.  I may be planting some of their lettuce and Italian parsley this year. 

I even picked up a baguette and a couple of chocolate dipped biscotti.  The last time I had a biscotti was years ago at my aunt’s place when we had coffee one morning (they love the whole English afternoon tea parties).

The biscotti was a nice treat to have with my coffee later that afternoon while reading “98 Reasons for Being” while the rain was pouring down outside. 

What I’ve learned in dolce far niente is that the act of doing nothing is another form of happiness. 

There’s less stress.  I fall asleep early and end up waking up early.  I’m not struggling to get out of bed at 7AM. 

Lunches are prepared well ahead of time and ready to take into work.  I have time to come up with new recipes or just take some time to make some of my favorite recipes I’ve grown to love over the years.  I also have time in the morning to have breakfast…at home!

I have plenty of time to do the things I’d like to do, instead of putting it all off for later.  I can do everything now at my own leisure. 

If I want to go to the movies after work, I can buy the ticket online and just go.  If I want to try out a new restaurant, I can.

Before, everything was just so rushed.  Even meeting friends at a restaurant…stressed to get there, spend time with them, talk about god knows what, and have to sit there and watch them get drunk or talk about their stressed out lives and all of the crap they’ve got to do in the next ten minutes. 

I don’t have to deal with that when I’m practicing the art of doing nothing on my own.  I don’t have to look at the person sitting in front of me who looks like their hair is about to fall out due to all of the stress.  Instead, I can just sit back and enjoy each morsel, the weather, and the sweetness of doing nothing.

One person asked me recently why I would go by myself.  I need to go with someone.  I shouldn’t be alone.  I just looked at them and thought…you’re the type of person that’s afraid to be alone. 

This journey is not about finding happiness with or in others.  It’s about finding the happiness within.  It’s about letting go of all of those things that I’ve been carrying around that clutters up my life.  It’s about seizing the day and finding that peace and tranquility within.  It’s about letting go of the things I don’t need (like stress and other people’s drama), and learning to live a good life. 

We spend so much time trying to accomplish things in life that we sometimes don’t take time to live.  We don’t appreciate what life has to offer.  We’ve forgotten how wonderful it feels to get a good night’s rest on a continuous basis.  We’ve taken the love and passion out of the things we put into our bodies.  We clutter up our lives with the non-essentials that we thought were essential to living our best life.

Even inside, we carry around our sadness instead of letting it go…even when we’ve upgraded to a better life.  We carry that weight around us.  People see it.  Some people even sense it. 

The way people describe me…I’m a very nice person (a very good person), but I carry a great sadness within.  They can tell that something happened to me.  It was only recently that I realized what that great sadness was.  It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what event did the most harm and makes us the way we are today, especially when there are so many events that shape us.

When you give up a dream to live an alternate life, that can cause a great sadness.  When you love someone that you know was fated to be the person that you will love for the rest of your life, and you know that it can never be…that will cause a great sadness.  When you give up a life that was meant to be your path in life because you were completely shattered, you lose a sense of yourself.  That will cause great sadness.

Last night, I had a dream that will help detail how I will write about this ‘tragedy’ everyone keeps telling me to write.  I decided a long time ago that I would fictionalize what happened, but keep the main premise of the story very real.  I just didn’t know how I would change the story around but keep the main elements in tact. 

Last night’s dream set the stage. 

You know how they say that your life keeps repeating the same mistakes over and over again until you learn the lesson?  It just happens with a different person, but it’s the same story.

I decided to change the person, the place and the careers.  Then I’m going to change the way the story ends by fixing it and writing it the way the story should have ended to begin with.  That’s how the story will be written.

Perhaps writing that story and correcting the way the story ended will be the way I resolve the real-life drama. 

There’s an element I’ve not shared yet in this blog that will be included in the story.  A few years ago, I found out from a mutual friend that FATE had said that he would have had a child with me if it meant I would stay.  When I heard that, I think my whole world collapsed under me.  I kept thinking, “Did I make a mistake by leaving?” 

If he had said “I love you” before I left, I probably would have never left.  If I had known about his desire to have a child with me, I would have never left.

But according to the dream, I would have left even if we did have a child together.  I would have lied so that he would never know.  But sometimes the heart gets the better of the situation and he would have found out…always with that shocked look of…this is why you left me?

There are songs out there that talk about trying to get him to tell me those three words.  You’re in love with your best friend…on top of the world when you’re with her…but you can’t tell her you love her because you’re too busy playing the most wanted bachelor around.  You lose her because you can’t tell her that you love her.  You tell her anything BUT that.  You lose your best friend because of it.

I can tell when he’s thinking about me, just as much as I know he can tell when I’m thinking about him.  It’s that great sorrow that fills up inside.  It’s that question that has no answer, “Where did it all go wrong?”

You love and then you lose them forever.  Amends can’t be made.  You can’t go back to the way things used to be, because someone was seriously hurt. 

The way the book is being written…it’s about second chances.  I won’t pretty down the inevitable.  She’s leaving the guy for all of the same reasons.  But time shows that even the emptiness felt when you try to find love with others means that the love you have for that person is still there.  It can’t be extinguished.  It can’t be broken.  That love is always there, no matter how much we want it to go away.  It’s still there.

I just feel that the way this tale will be written is the way I would have wanted the fate lines to have been written.  I’m going to correct it for these characters, because those we continue to love deeply deserve a second chance.

I think that once I finish writing this tale, that clutter will officially be removed from inside of me.  It’s my way of letting the pain go.  In my mind, I think I’m ready.  (Thus, the dream living out the tale.)

I’m not doing this to move on in life and find a new love or what have you.  I’m doing this for myself.  From tragedy comes the tale that I hope will serve a greater purpose…when fate knocks on your door…you have to tell her you love her.  That’s the lesson, because not everyone gets a second chance.

About Michelle Kenneth

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