As we settle into life here in Italy, one of our top priorities has been learning to speak like the locals. I’ve always enjoyed the sonorous rhythms of Italian but never knew just how interesting and rich a language it is.
Studying is a slow process, but we have a lovely tutor, Giulia, who keeps us on track not only with our grammar but also sprinkles in delightful little cultural insights and idioms. One phrase we learned last week was:
“Dare spago” or “Non dare spago”
Literally, they mean “to give/reel out twine” or “not to give/reel out twine,” but what they imply is the act of either encouraging or discouraging a talkative person to continue.
Say you’re bagging your groceries and the cashier just won’t stop talking and you are trying to get home in a hurry– your response become monosyllabic and you turn towards the door so as “not to reel out the twine” any further. But maybe later that evening a dear friend is finally opening up about some trauma in their life and you’re eager to help them through it– you’d encourage them to open up and continue, you’d “give twine” aplenty.
This got me thinking about communication and human connection, and all of the many ways we encourage or discourage it from happening. As you encounter various people in your life this week, play with this concept of “dare spago.” Get curious. Is your spool of relational time and attention is rolling out freely right now or is it wound up tightly?
This week, I’m particularly grateful for the homespun rituals Ashlinn and I have been creating together as we forge our family culture.
Recently, we made the difficult decision to sell Ashlinn’s house, a charming little bungalow in East Nashville. There was so much emotion tied up in this place– she bought it by herself over two years ago, a huge accomplishment she’s rightfully proud of. And then, after last year’s tornado sent a tree through the roof and left a traumatic mark on both of us, she spent the better part of nine months overseeing the repair efforts; triumphing over Covid supply line disruptions and a swath of shady contractors.
All good things must come to an end, however. For many reasons, it is simply time to let our sweet little house go. Our time as owners and caretakers is pretty much over. Sadly, our culture is not particularly good at letting go or providing helpful guidance for how to process the feelings surrounding such moments in life.
Last year, we read Sasha Sagan’s For Small Creatures Such As We, an incredibly beautiful little book all about creating meaningful moments and rituals in our day-to-day life. With this inspiration, we put together a little goodbye ceremony for the house, holding space to feel gratitude for all that it has meant for us both together and individually. We also prepared to release it to its new owners, hoping for all the love and happiness that home encouraged in us to be present for them, as well.
So this week, I am grateful for that little house, for finding kindred spirits who write moving books, and for my wife and I building our own traditions for our life together.
I have a very exciting new development to celebrate with you this week!
As you may or may not know, in addition to my vocal stylings, I’ve been an avid photographer and artist for many years. Being here in bella Italia has only inspired me further. Lately, I’ve enjoyed diving into a new direction with my work wherein I overlay snippets of urban textures and street art over classical statues or architecture to create my own “remixes” of the city spirit.
A couple of weeks ago, I decided to open up an Etsy shop. There you’ll find my designs are applied to everything from wall prints and laptop sleeves, to yoga pants and biodegradable phone cases. I hope you enjoy taking a look. It is truly a pleasure to share my work with the world!
Speak to you soon,