Locanda Cugnanello, Tuscany, Italy — Sunrise
I just spent a week in Tuscany with Jen Pastiloff at a Manifestation retreat. Jen is a yogi and beauty hunter (www.jenniferpastiloff.com). Her retreats are so much more than yoga; they are about creating magic. Mixing yoga moves in with writing prompts, Jen gently guides us to become vulnerable and release the deep fears, shame, or hatred for ourselves that we carry. I have attended three of her retreats and they are all different depending on the location, the attendees, and most importantly where your heart and mind are in that time of your life.
Our location in Tuscany was full of ever-changing colors and light. We were housed in a magnificently renovated farmhouse and nourished by loving staff with Tuscan recipes – fresh-baked croissants filled with homemade marmalade, Tuscan bean soup, focaccia, house-made pasta with fresh porcini mushrooms (“giggle food” as my husband and I refer to it).
To celebrate our time together, the last writing assignment was to “describe your own 100th birthday party celebration: the location, the party theme, and a speech or toast as well as who speaks to you”. Each of us stood in the waning light of the day, outside Locanda Cugnanello, and read our tale to all of our new found loves.
We are in Corolla, one of the towns in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. It is October and the night sky comes early in the evening. The days remain warmly bathed in sunshine and the evenings provide a crisp, clean breeze on our skin. We’ve gathered at our beach home where we have spent more than 55 years together; celebrating summer vacations, New Year’s Eve, and countless other special days. Nerissa is surrounded by her 5 children; 2 biological and 3 from her marriage to Russell. They have all married and have children of their own. There are also 2 great-grandchildren that run from the house to the ocean to splash in the waves.
Gathered on the top deck of the house; always Nerissa’s favorite place to read and relish her coffee in the morning and a glass of Vernaccio rosé in the evening. The celebration starts with a Prosecco and a toast given by the five children:
Alida (Nerissa’s oldest step-daughter): Nerissa, we haven’t always seen eye-to-eye, (laughing) probably because we are both so strong-minded; please know that I love and appreciate everything you taught me about life.
Alex (Nerissa’s oldest child): Mom, thank you for always believing in me and helping me find a way to follow my passions.
Sam (Nerissa’s step-son): Thank you for taking interest in me and listening to me.
Elaina (Nerissa’s daughter; named after Nerissa’s mother Elaine): You have lived a full life Mim (Elaina’s name for Nerissa since she was 10 years old)! You’ve shared all of yourself and also your mother with us; her snickerdoodle tradition at Christmas will always be carried on.
Cassie (Nerissa’s youngest step-daughter): Thank you for helping me balance my world by adding a feminine touch to everything, yet always making sure you taught us girls we could do anything.
THANK YOU FOR 100 YEARS OF YOU!! WE LOVE YOU!