I admit that I am fascinated by how and why people in Provence and Tuscany live their lives endlessly fascinated by their own food and lifestyle, and not swayed by seemingly irrelevant outside world. I notice a nuanced elegance in simple things in life. Is it the naturally endowed scenic beauty, pride in their farm produce, or how they curate life?
With keen intention to bring that swag into my life and after much soul-searching, I clinched that it is really about ‘living local.’ When someone said that they miss living in Saltzburg where they walk to all places like stores and cafes, work, and visit friends- all in walking distance, I get it! I truly wanted to invent this in Chicago. Well, it is a village compared to NYC (though our son convinces us that living in the west village, NYC is like living in a village). I begin with the hunt for the farm produce. Then, I am nowhere near any farm and I work on Saturdays when the farmers market is open. I used to think it is foolish to spend $2 for 2 tomatoes while I get a ton in Jewel a minute away. But slowly I transformed to understand the value and the taste of fresh produce. I search super-markets as a hobby to find which one offers the best of what item- and turned grocery shopping into a fun local exercise. It’s like Umami mushroom seasoning in Trader Joe’s, branzino in Plum market, fresh bread and apples in Whole Foods, fried chicken in Jewel, and prosciutto sliced in real-time and ricotta from the heaps in cheese shop at Mariano’s- None of them are more than $10.
Walking on Lakeshore or the neighborhoods you live in are free if the weather is good, right?! When I look at the lake or river water, I take in the blue, how the weather influences the swaying of the waves, and the color each day. You can let yourself dive into mindfulness. What is your local park? What are your local art fairs? Bands? Library? Dance school? Driving range? You can pretty much plan seasonal living based on what four seasons offer in your locale. Seasonal food, flowers, and activities imbibe the art of living. Even in the dark winters, practicing hygge comforts us. A huge part of living local and making a difference in your life is creating your social platform of friends within walking distance. There is a commonality of local experience. That alters your life.
Patronizing local cafes or restaurants to develop ties with the places and the staff feels good if you have time. I find joy at my salon and enjoy the smiles from my local Walgreens staff who ask about my children. That really adds to my comfort and social platform. I keep telling my people that if you don’t plan the weekends well, they melt away. I would plan and populate with curated experiences such as one exercise item like walking or gym, a social event, connecting on phone with loved ones, nurturing a hobby (think of nestling with a book or dust that old guitar), or local experiential event like going to a store or rarely even a museum. Bringing up our boys, they always came along wherever we went. We showed them that working hard allows some small luxuries (although they grew up by the time I decided to buy two tomatoes from the farmers market) and how the world works. I like to walk to places. And Live local.