a simple life in italy

Creating a Simple Life in Italy

Simple Life

‘Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things’

Robert Brault

When I first met Sam his prime goal in life was to be a Millionaire by a certain age, he announced this fact to all his friends and family. I like that about him, that he follows what he wants with complete passion. A little further into our relationship and his goals changed direction, now he just wants to be happy. To have a simple life and time with his family, millions wouldn’t go astray mind you  but it’s just not the driving force anymore.

Now his passion is for life to be filled with fun, adventure and community, my passions are very similar, to be vibrant, joyful and creative. Finding our core desired feelings and actually talking about them helped me find clarity and direction. We know what we want, and how we want to feel and each step we take is bringing us closer and closer. I am loving Danielle LaPorte and her simple message, I am listening to Ted Talks, Vishen from Mind Valley, and others that resonate with me, I know they each bring that shift in mindset.

We are living in Italy on far less yet so fulfilled and only see the possibilities of living a simple life style. I love seeing the results on our children, they are outside playing, want less and find playthings in the close environment. Simple friendships are growing, the kids are playing outside, Carina wanders back and forth to her friend over in the next borgata. They have more freedom here.

The process we took to get here didn’t happen overnight, with many years in between the declaration of our dream to actually fulfilling it. We took self development programs and continued to educate ourselves starting with Robert Kiyosaki when I was eight months pregnant with our first child Aaron back in 2000. I remember sitting in the packed audience bemused by the young guy sitting next to me in his executive clothes watching my belly as Aaron did very visible somersaults.

When we first started this journey to a simple life I hadn’t been in the workforce for many years. I had no wish to go back to the slog of retail and had been in the same retail job for over 10 years before stopping work completely just before Carina was born. We both knew we didn’t want to work for a boss and we did what we knew best …..renovating. Over the following eleven years we renovated more than ten properties both structurally and cosmetically. Always with an eye on our dream of a simple life in Italy.

For me a simple life doesn’t mean I have to go through my wardrobe and cull it to a certain number of pieces, or ‘de-clutter’ my house, it is much deeper than that and I think you can live a simple life with a massive house or a tiny one, it’s about the way you live your life. Having that connection to yourself and those around you, being able to be with your family to guide your children, to spend time with them and help them develop into young adults.

What I always come back to is the way I want to feel, how I want my marriage to develop over the years to come, how I want to relate to my children, how I want them to relate to me as they grow and enter the world as young adults.

I want to feel peaceful, joyful, creative and healthy.

This week in Our Italian Life we have been enjoying the early Spring sunshine and the entire valley is alive with flowers. The blue tractor went on its maiden voyage and so did the camper van. We collected wood in the mountains, planted the ‘orto’, bought cages for the rabbits, and seem to have adopted another cat, oh and Sam thought it a great idea to use the old bidet and toilet for growing herbs, and with lots of images to share both here and over on our Renovating Italy  facebook page. I hope you enjoy them as much as I love sharing with you all.

It’s possible to take a small step towards your dreams each day, just a little step forward……I’d love to hear some of your ideas and thoughts.

and the gang x


My 50th – an invitation to dream

 ‘She decided to start living the life she imagined…’

‘Kobi Yamada’

Last night I lay in bed thinking, about my big birthday next year and what I want to do on the day. In my mind I have been planning a huge bash in Paris somewhere overlooking the Eiffel Tower. I have already started hinting to my friends and family that this would be tres magnifique and they should start saving for a European holiday.

paris for my birthday

Then my inner version of reality kicks in.

My little voice that tells me ‘don’t’ be ridiculous’ and nobody is going to come all the way to Paris for a birthday….no edit that, I mean for MY Birthday. It is a dream that is totally out of reach and I am not worthy of such a big dream. It will cost too much, we don’t have the money, we’ll have to travel, I’m not important….my dream will be a fizzer and everybody will know.

Don’t tell anyone, if nobody knows then my grand dream can’t fail, I can’t fail.

And I let myself think this way.

I crush my own dreams, like the dream of writing a book, of having a voice, of making a difference. I’ve been taking about this dream for almost ten years. Taking one step forward and then no further, then another step and stopping, no further…gathering information, keeping notes, subscribing to writing blogs and comparing my journal to the polished finished books written by my peers. I’ve been Peer Gazing and crushing my own voice in the process.

So last night unable to sleep, gazing at the ancient beams overhead my thoughts shifted to my Brother, I was thinking that he only made it a few months past his fiftieth birthday. That right now if I were him I would only have one year to live. This exact time next year I would be in the garden finishing the weeding, packing away the lawnmower  heading in for dinner, maybe whistling (I like to think of him whistling as he took those last steps).

I don’t know what dreams died unfulfilled with my brother that night, but I bet if he knew that he only had that one last year to live he would have whistled more often.

Dreams don’t need to be grand to live in our hearts, they just need to inspire us to be more than we are. My dream for our Italian life won’t happen by itself, being in Paris for my birthday won’t happen unless I decide it will, my first book will never be read unless I give up that little voice inside my head. Last night I decided to dedicate this year to my brother, to make it the best year ever, to make my life sing…..or maybe whistle.

As this is going to be the year that sings out loud, dances in the street, and culminates in Paris I’d love you to come along. Sing your own song, create a dream so big you can’t help but dance with the excitement of it, and then share it…..start here, with me, let’s do it together.

Go ahead….dare to dream x

Signature-00134 editand the gang x

dare to dream

Some French Inspiration

French Essence: Ambience, Beauty, and Style in Provence

Paris in Color

My French Life

image left | right


Thinking outside the Box – sharing the dream

‘Isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes, but when you look back,

everything is different…’

C.S. Lewis


lounge triple

A new friend Sarah from Birdie Hill recently  called me  ‘Superwoman’ over at the Renovating Italy facebook page. Yet I don’t feel like this cartoon super-heroine, I feel tired, cranky and ready to burst into tears at the slightest thing. Emotional overload, hormones…who knows, lets just say I’ve been a ‘biatch’ to live with.  Renovating a house in the mountains of Italy is incredible and I totally love this life and my family but sometimes I just want to scream! This last week has been one of those times and when I am like this I stop writing, I start blaming, and wonder how on earth we are going to make this work.

It’s moments like these that my husbands sense of humor and persistence keeps us together. We love it here, I can’t imagine living anywhere else and have shaken off the doldrums and seen the rainbow. Although at the moment we have no income (Sam is waiting for me to be a best seller) I’m sure we will work something out. So many ideas and it just takes thinking outside of that box, we’d love to start a project here in the Valley to share what we are learning. A way to give a taste of this dream we are living, to share our dream and create something for others.

Our house will be finished before the end of Winter, and we’d love to be able to buy another here in the borgata to create a place for friends, family and those interested in this lifestyle to stay and experience it first hand. Another big dream but one I know we could achieve, my husband looks ten years younger, the kids are about to start school and learn a new language, they now have rabbits, chickens and a totally new outlook on life, and I am lit up by this valley every time I open the shutters in the morning to gaze over the mountains.

Anything is possible…

lounge cement

 lounge before after

house lounge dbl

heater dbl

Our lounge room floor is completed, the heater made it’s way into the house suspended on a huge tree trunk over the shoulders of Sam and Claudio….it weighs a tonne. The kitchen and lounge walls have been re coated and we now have hand made shelves and a kitchen bench. Things are starting to take shape, the house is becoming a home and it looks great.

Next week we have old friends from Australia coming to visit, and more this Saturday….I just can’t wait to see them all and share the dream. Tomorrow we are off to pick up some matresses so that we will all have somewhere to sleep. The bedroom upstairs now has a wall for privacy with the plaster going up today (pics to follow) now I have a wall to put the antique wardrobe against freeing up some space in the room for bedside tables. We have plenty of things to keep us busy through Winter.

corridor frame

 corridor dblThe valley is full of sunflowers, berries and people making hay while the sun shines….I now see where this saying comes from. Our chickens are laying eggs, the rabbits are soon to be making more rabbits and our tiny chicks are now running about in the stable. In such a short time we have achieved so much, discovered ourselves and created even bigger dreams….hmmm maybe I am ‘Superwoman’ after all.

 orto sunflower

orto anna dbl

carina madonna dbl edit

Moving Abroad – leaving loved ones behind

Someone asked me a while ago if we were Renovating Italy long distance. How can I pour so much of my heart and soul into Italy when I am sitting writing in Brisbane? I really can’t answer, it’s not that I don’t love Australia. I do with all my heart. It’s my home, the air I breathe the birthplace of our children. My home, one I am immensely proud of. Yet there’s always that travelers cry “I want to see the world” not only see it but live it!

So I am here, longing to be there.

It’s only at this very moment that I am able to accept my life just as it is and just as it isn’t.

Others have told me that there is some reason why we are being held up. Some mystical force that knows what’s coming and is keeping us here through tough family times. “See you aren’t meant to leave yet” or ” the universe has something in store for you here” which (and I mean no offense to those who have told us these comforting words) reminds me of comments like “God needed another angel” or “he was sent to teach you something” or “he wasn’t meant for this world” and I just have to agree to disagree! The funny thing is we’re always delayed here because of some terrible thing that is coming our way or worse heading straight for our loved ones…like Cancer or Dementia.

I really don’t believe in fate, never have and I know and love many people who do. It’s just that I don’t.

Our son didn’t die because he was “meant to die” he died because the hospital staff were negligent in their care. We aren’t here in Australia because our parents are now sick, we’re here because the housing market dropped and we can’t sell our house. Nothing mystical about it. When the market picks up and we can sell we’re off.

And that’s what’s causing me so much anguish, the thought of leaving loved ones especially aging loved ones. Especially my Mother who is almost eighty and suddenly showing it. It was a huge shock when I visited Melbourne for my Uncle’s funeral over Christmas. Suddenly she is elderly. She is recovering from surgery and still fiercely independent, tells me I’m naughty for buying her punnets of fresh raspberries and blackberries. Won’t ever ask for help ( a bit like me) and thinks she  is invincible. She isn’t and we both know it. How can I plan and dream of a life in Italy so far away from her now when she might need me the most?

Leaving aging parents isn’t something I thought I’d have to deal with as I never thought my Mum would get old.

She is eternally young, takes classes and meets her girlfriends for coffee and a natter. Not old, not my Mum.There are so many things that will need to be put in place if we are to leave for Italy and leave our families behind. I’m sure many of you have been through this, or worse had something happen to a loved one while you are abroad. It was always our worst fear when we were in Italy, we kept money aside for urgent travel home.

I often write about our hopes and dreams, about our love of Italy and the life we long for there. Tonight I just had to get some of this dark side out in the open so I could step back and take a look at my blue spell up close. Start taking action, create a plan, and look at the future with my Mum here and now!   There is only this moment and this moment! So forgive me if I seem confused, a bit blue and uncertain of time frames…xxx

Life’s Postcards