Maddalena Bellino Stramaglia My Mother August 1980 Capri Italy
“There is no end. There is no beginning.
There is only the infinite passion of life.”
Frederico Fellini, filmmaker: from Sass, Smarts, and Stilettos
Ciao and Sacred Sunday to you:
Right after my husband and I moved into our new home, I received in the mail a gift from a good friend of mine. She surprised me with the book, Sass, Smarts, and Stilettos – How Italian Women Make the Ordinary Extraordinary, by Gabriella Contestabile.
It was perfect timing as I was excited to finally be settling in and planting new roots, at the same time I was missing my mom, a lot!
As I read, I laughed and cried and longed to pick up the phone and engage in one of those great mother/daughter chats we often shared. The book brought up many memories and questions I wished I had asked her.
In fact, today is my mom’s birthday. She would have been 95. Maddy, as she came to be known later in her life, was a quintessential sassy, smart extraordinary woman, with a style all her own. As I reflect on her 90th birthday celebration, not knowing then it would be our last together, I wish desperately to transport us back in time for one more endless hug and conversation.
My friend and I, whose own ancestral roots lie in the emerald isle of Ireland, enjoy teasing one another. After reading the book herself, my friend tells me she’s really Italian. While I say, I think I might have a wee bit of the Irish in me.
I didn’t know why I felt so strongly connected to Ireland. Especially as I am, no doubt, second generation Italian American and feel my ancestors singing through my blood and bone.
Well…this is when you must pause, smile, and receive the grace that’s given.
The other day my partner and I were on the phone with our host in Italy discussing plans and intention for our upcoming Italian retreat in November.
Our friend Lex, an American transplant of about 10 years, only learned to speak and read in Italian since living there. Now that’s quite a feat.
One of the things I enjoy about our planning sessions, that I have missed these past years, is the richness and fluidity of our conversations.
Lex shared with us that he was reading, in Italian, about the ancient Umbrians. He learned that they were Celtic immigrants from around 16-14 BC. These Celtic Umbrians were a totem culture that understood the paradox of light and dark and embraced them both.
These ancient peoples then began to disperse throughout all of Italy carrying with them their symbols and deities and reverence for the land.
As I was listening to the story unfold, I had goosebumps, or God bumps as some folks like to say. Now I understood why my friend and I feel a connection to both Ireland and Italy and to one another.
According to author, Jungian analyst and mythologist, Sharon Blackie, knowing the history of your ancestral land and its people, as well as the place and people where you currently live, is important.
Because place and people imprint you in ways that are apparent, and transparent. When you learn more about place and people you learn more about who you are. You go deeper than your modern-day self and psyche.
As well as deepening your connection to the land and the importance of caring for her.
So, my love…
do you know where your people come from
is there an innate longing in your heart for the land of your lineage and its people
do you know the history of the place and the people your feet are planted on now
If not, I encourage you to do a little research, and be open to a greater expansion of your mind and heart.
With love and appreciation, xoxo Paulette
P.S. Contact me for more information about our magical Italy Retreat – November 2-9, 2022