Photo by the talented Tiffany Kirchner-Dixon "The Fancy Farmgirl Photography"
Whew, what a day! Yesterday my friend Terri Brush and I opened registration for the 2015 cycle of our "La Dolce Vita" retreats in Italy. I am overwhelmed as it seems that once again our retreat has struck a cord with women around the world who would like to join together, build a community and share an unforgettable experience. We only have a small handful of spots left for next year, which is a blessing.
"La Dolce Vita" began as a tiny germ of an idea that nestled in the corners of my brain and kept demanding to be realized. 2 years ago, that dream was fertilized and developed and nurtured as Terri and I launched our inaugural retreats. Soon after I arrived home from Italy this year, I told you that the experience I had in Italy had changed me and that I would share a bit of it here with you and I'm both nervous and excited to do so today.
First, I want to start by saying I am no different than you. I am just a simple girl, who has a husband she adores and is striving to cultivate a life that is good. Not perfect, but one that is just right for me and my family. Sometimes taking a dream and turning it into something tangible and REAL is terrifying. And, this dream was all that and more. It was stress unlike any I've ever had before, it was nervous energy, sleepless nights and incessant worrying. By no stretch of the imagination was it easy to co-host "La Dolce Vita". However, there has been only a handful of things in my life which have given me greater joy, satisfaction and, dare I say it, even pride.
I owe a tremendous thank you to the secret weapon of our retreat, my friend Paola Mereu. She is the daughter-in-law of the heiress of the estate where "La Dolce Vita" is based. I have known Poala for 3 years now and she is one of those people whom you immediately want to become friends with. She is fun, energetic, confident, kind, gentle hearted (yet firm) and was the heart and soul of our time at the estate. When Terri and I were first brainstorming about "La Dolce Vita" with Paola, we really stressed to her that we wanted our girls to feel like they were visiting a family friend. We didn't want there to be a barrier like there often is in a hotel, we wanted a relationship to build between our ladies and the family who own the estate. And, wow, did she ever deliver. I can't tell you how many of the attendees made jokes about wanting to pack her in their suitcase to take her home. (And she is pretty dang tiny. It really would not have been a stretch for her to fit in some of our bags! I told Paola's husband that he'd better watch out or she really might go 'missing'!)
Each "La Dolce Vita" retreat from 2014 was different. They were both great, and there was not one that was better than the other. They were living organisms that were evolving into a reflection of our groups and the personalities within them. In the weeks since coming home, I have seen the friendships and relationships made at the retreat blossom beyond the shores of Italy. It is amazing what can happen when you get 15 ladies who all share similar passions together. The synergy, the care, the laughter and tears bonded everyone together in a powerful way. I will forever hold in my heart a late night talk with 2 of the ladies where we shared about the loss of our children and infertility. My heart warms when I think of women who had never done jewelry projects before feeling empowered through Terri's patience and kind guidance. I smile when I think of Franco, our chartered bus driver, who would affectionately tell us that he was standing in for our husbands and we shouldn't spend too much money when we ventured out for our visit to the antique market. I remember a spontaneous sing-a-long in the bus on the night when Franco turned on the radio and found a station playing some classic 1970s rock and roll, the welcome banquets as everyone was trying to get to know each other, happy tears over a pitch perfect meal, lightening bug walks, food that was just BEYOND yummy, hot water shut offs that were in odd places, (Don't worry, we always got the hot water back on really quickly. But really, who would have thought that the hot water shut off was that little button near the floor.) and just a lot of smiling, happy people.
It goes without saying that this was not a one person show, the team of Terri, Tiffany and I worked together in harmony. We shared the desire to create something special and we supported each other to reach that goal.
I came home inspired. Inspired to DO, to LIVE, to SHARE. I came home feeling that "La Dolce Vita" will go down for me as one of my proudest accomplishments. And, I can't WAIT to do it again!
If you would like to join Terri, Tiffany and I in Tuscany next summer, please check out the "La Dolce Vita" blog for information: http://carolynpeeler.typepad.com/la_dolce_vita_2015
We would love to have you.