When the Chips are Down

 

American culture that does not like sick, or “in need.”

When something like Hurricane Harvey hits, one of the first news articles is about the stock market’s possible response. Let that sink in for a moment.

We have no time for illness or people that need help. While there are compassionate members, we are a compassionless society.

And this little fact, this small-until-it’s not notion, is perceived by all of us, either subconsciously or consciously. And rightfully, we are insecure about it. Somewhere inside, we know that sickness, old age–anything that keeps us from producing and appearing well–are classifications that are only just barely tolerated.

Even relatively well off Americans are one cancer diagnosis away from financial ruin, and nobody likes you when your chips are down.

America only has use for you when you’re well. Otherwise, best of luck to you.

 

On Happiness and Fleeting Moments

Over the past few years, I’ve realized that the moments where I feel the fleeting buzz of intense happiness occur when I am with my husband and dog, doing nothing particularly special.

Before we bought our house outside of Boston, we lived in a condo, and I wanted more than anything to give the doggie her own yard. Just the other day, I peeked out the kitchen window and watched her run free in the back, panting and happy while my husband threw her tennis ball around.

I am jolted, profoundly, when I realize, in these moments, that bursts of happiness are not the product of where we place our energy.

Yet, we continue to work, buy, consume.

There is something called a “blue zone,” a place where more people have longer life expectancies than, perhaps, nearby areas. These identified blue zones consist of Ikaria, Greece; Loma Linda, California; Okinawa, Japan; Sardinia, Italy; and Nicoya, Costa Rica. A feature piece in The New York Times Magazine from 2012 sheds a lot of light on what, specifically, the lifestyles of these people consist of—particularly Ikaria, Greece.

Researchers cite their diets as being primarily plant-based and preservative free, but also draw attention to lifestyle habits, such as community connectedness, socializing, and living with a sense of purpose. Most of us try for some of these to one degree or another, but the author of the article brings up an important point: when you are an individual in a community that is not conducive to such a lifestyle, it is tremendously difficult to maintain it. Basically, the habits contributing to longevity are cultivated by being near others who practice them too.

I sometimes wonder if even a reduction in stress levels could do wonders for us. Sure, the standard American diet leaves a lot to be desired in terms of health, but we are all depressed, overworked, and anxious. Thus, when the numerous advertisements showcasing fast food and restaurants appear, well, it’s easy to see why many of us turn to food as comfort. (For what it’s worth, an ad about fresh mozzarella is the extent of food commercials that I’ve ever seen on Italian television.)

Somehow, we need to do better. We need to stop chasing happiness and just be.

“HAPPINESS.—A butterfly, which when pursued, seems always just beyond your grasp; but if you sit down quietly, may alight upon you.” —The Daily Crescent, 1848

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4 Reasons to Visit Bordighera, Italy

After returning from an exquisite vacation based in Bordighera, Italy, I wanted to list the highlights to bring attention to this little city. Next time you think about booking a trip to Italy, consider Bordighera in place of the larger, more touristy Italian destinations.

 

1. The scenery. A small city rich in culture, Bordighera is famous for inspiring Claude Monet himself. There are beautiful gardens, such as the Pallanca Exotic Garden, as well as a charming old town to explore. Since Bordighera is on the Italian riviera, the beach is a big draw for vacationers. Some areas are private, while others are open to the public. For your convenience, there are a multitude of areas to rinse off before you head back to your hotel or one of the numerous beachside cafes. The Lungomare Argentina is the street to follow in order to find the public beach areas as well as some pranzo or gelato.59356f462300003e0f348da8 Not a beachgoer? Take a long passeggiata and enjoy the beautiful scenery.
 

2. The location. Bordighera flies under the radar a bit, but is actually in a tremendous location. In addition to the beach, the small city offers some fine dining, shopping, and easy transit for day trips.

By staying there for a week, we were able to visit Nice, France; Monte Carlo, Monaco; Genoa, Italy; Dolceacqua, Italy and more. We utilized a combination of trains and taxis, and found it easy to get where we wanted to go. It is also an excellent, but often overlooked option for those attending the Monaco Grand Prix. Hotels within Monaco and along the French Riviera often have exorbitant prices for race weekend; however, we found Bordighera to be both reasonably priced and a quiet respite from the hustle and bustle of Monaco.

3. The food. I would be lying if I said that my trips to Italy weren’t primarily motivated by the delicious food! Born into an Italian-American family, I have enjoyed Italian cuisine since I was a young girl. But nothing compares to the fresh ingredients found in Italy (sorry, United States!). While in Bordighera, we enjoyed three particularly delicious culinary adventures:

  • L’Aranceto at the Villa Elisa. L’Aranceto offers delicious, homemade Ligurian 593574282100001b00aa26b2food within a cozy, family-run restaurant setting. Located in the Villa Elisa hotel, L’Aranceto’s servers take care to ensure you are comfortable and happy. We enjoyed many meals here during our stay in Bordighera, including risotto, various pastas, and the freshest seafood. Gluten free options were available, which was a lifesaver for a Celiac like me. To the right is gluten free spaghetti bolognese—the best I’ve ever enjoyed in my life. Since we were staying at the hotel, we happily dined at the same table for each meal, as it was reserved especially for us the whole time. I already miss it. TIP: Be sure to order a bottle of wine from nearby Dolceacqua!
  • Sunrise at the Grand Hotel del Mare. The Grand Hotel del Mare’s restaurant prides itself on fresh ingredients, as well as catering to guests with special diets, such as vegans, vegetarians, or Celiacs. They impressively implement 593575e92300004a14348dd1traditional Italian recipes with necessary accommodations. I was offered a tailored, gluten free tasting menu, which was one of the highlights of our trip; it has been so long since I have been able to have gluten free tiramisù. We enjoyed four delicious courses poolside, taken care of by professional staff and entertained by the hotel’s cute resident cats. There is an extensive wine menu and an exquisite view of the coast in the dining room. TIP: Inquire at the restaurant ahead of time if you have food allergies or dietary restrictions.
  • Universo del Gelato on Corso Italia. Ahead of time, I researched which593577f32100001400aa26d0 gelato shops in Bordighera offered gluten free gelato. Upon arrival at Universo del Gelato, I was greeted with friendly staff who even offered me a gluten free cone for my gelato. I was blown away! The gelato was phenomenal, with a perfect texture and temperature. The owner and staff were always friendly and careful to ensure my gelato would be safely gluten free. We learned, upon reading their posted article, that their gelato had been chosen for the Eataly location in Genoa. I am not surprised!
4. The lodging. Throughout our travels, my husband and I have stayed at all types of hotels, ranging from 5-star giants to smaller, family-run establishments. We were so very impressed with the Villa Elisa in Bordighera. From the front desk attendants to the dining crew to our airport transfer driver, we truly enjoyed every minute of our vacation, and the Villa Elisa is to thank. We were assisted with just about everything we needed, and cannot wait to go back. Below is the beautiful pool area, complete with various colorful flowers and fruit trees. Check out TripAdvisor’s top ten list in Bordighera to see prices and availability.
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