My summer holidays are sacred. Something I’ll never part with. The only thing that gets me through a year in New York City, are the four weeks I spend in my second home, Italia. The over crowded city becomes unbearable by August. My feet are swollen from 11 months of walking, running and standing on concrete in my Sergio Rossi’s.
This year in particular, has been tumultuous. The news, unbalanced global economy and politics, climate extremes, celebrity and wealth obsession. Not to mention the catastrophe that is the fashion industry. It quite literally has felt like the end of the world or the beginning of Gilead(referencing Hulu’s ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’). In my private life; my relationship suffered from the stress of it all, no one ever said it was supposed to be easy. I had to walk away from a few close friendships, their losses crushing my core. Having to dig deep, let go of expectations and forgive myself in order to forgive them. Standing at the finish line of the season, I’m mentally and emotionally drained.
One of my four consecutive weeks is dedicated to a special island, my Never Never Land. Isola d’Elba is that place I pack a mental suitcase for. It’s a wild island, an oceanic reserve. She accepts me with anything I bring, no judgements. These 7 days out of the year are for mental growth and emotional healing. Once you except that you’re not and never will be perfect, that there will always be obstacles to climb, you open yourself up to learn. As they say, ‘knowledge is power’.
What’s in my suitcase this year; doubt, insecurity, fear, anxiety, a splash of depression and a half full bottle of self loathing. You spend enough time in the big city, even the most positive of persons becomes a cynic.
Arriving on the island is magic. The afternoon sun against the blue sky and green leaves, the bright white seagulls flocking in packs while gazing upwards. You take a deep breath in and smell the Mediterranean. I close my eyes, finally, it’s summer holiday. I’m officially free to just be present. As I drive, top down, I’m on the way to find myself along the winding roads, each turn unveiling more glorious green and turquoise blue lush.
I’m ready to be in the water, it’s time to exercise. My hours spent swimming and snorkeling along Elba’s coast are enlivening, it’s my favourite workout of the year.
Underwater there is a peace that goes beyond understanding. Reminded of just how small I am. How small all of my worries and troubles are. Watching the fish around me, a whole different world, I admire the families and the loners. Some curious enough to get close, the bigger creatures eyeing from a distance. Groups of fish rushing to a freshly cracked sea urchin; with the purest aggression they fight for their meal. The multicoloured jellyfish that dance with such poise. My eyes fill with tears as I release my tensions right there with my under water friends. Free of apprehension. Mask full of teardrops, I smile, hypnotised by the beauty that surrounds me. I am so truly blessed to be in this place. Crackles from marine life vibrations are the only sounds audible. Immersed in the deep blue silence. This is where restoration begins. Floating in this creamy velvet bed of aquamarine pillows you’d do well to be still and breathe slow. Let her massage out the toxic weight of frustrations passed.
By midweek I’ve made plenty of space for everything I’ll need to take with me from the island. Don’t ask me about fashion news, my work plans for fall, my return drive or flight details. Anything I was worrying about, or could still be wrestling in uncertainty with, on Isola d’Elba are nonexistent. There is no space for negativity driven by fear and insecurity. I’m here to take in courage, hope, love and peace. Fear can’t live in those places. I’m gaining strengths I never knew possible, uncertainty can’t thrive in that space.
The colours from morning to night, each day a different beach. Bright blues, marine greens, whites, pinks, reds, burnt orange, forest greens, and midnight blues. My yellow brick road has lead me back to wonderland. She’s painting, and dancing, and laughing, and you can feel her beaming on the other side of the grotta. The thick and crisp smell of the sea. It tastes like summer.
A few days spent on the south side of the island where higher mineral concentrated beaches rest, are imperative. It’s healing. Your skin, your mind and entire body are being restored naturally. My soul is at rest, my spirit is at peace, my heart is full.
My last day on Elba is the longest beach day. Kissing her goodbye is bittersweet. The final snorkel leads to a prickly bright orange creature with four moving legs, stella marina (starfish), you’ve stolen my heart! I can’t help but wave and smile at every living thing I see. Thanking them for allowing me into their world to better understand and appreciate my own.
Back in Manhattan, I’m rejuvenated and ready to hit the ground running. I’ve actually missed the non tax paying tourists pushing everyone on the subway during rush hour because they think the doors will crush their children. Sigh, that other special place I call home.