When the movie “Under the Tuscan Sun” was released in 2004 I went to see it with a couple of friends. My friends loved it but I was unimpressed and wrote it off as a typical “chick flick” in which a woman is brokenhearted by divorce, moves far away to start over but doesn’t really feel complete until she finds a new man (OK, guys, stay with me now). I thought it was a cute, fun movie but I managed to miss an important underlying message until I saw it again a few years later. After that, I bought the DVD and have watched it many times since then. It has become a favorite of mine. Like I always say – when the student is ready, the teacher appears.
Our heroine, a writer named Frances, while on a trip to Tuscany, impulsively decides to buy a charming but slightly rundown 300 year old villa. She has many doubts about her decision but she knows she can’t return to her old life in San Francisco. She is sad and lonely but she tries to embrace her new life. She hires an Italian contractor and his two Polish workers to do some renovations on the villa and welcomes neighbors who reach out to her but she is still feeling sorry for herself and unsure of whether she has done the right thing. At one point, when she feels overwhelmed and afraid that she has made a mistake, she tells a new friend that she must have been crazy to buy a house with so many rooms when she has no one to fill them. She says she wants to have a wedding there and for a family to live there. She says she wants to cook but has no one for whom to cook. He tells her a story about a railroad track that was built through the Alps before there was even a train that could make the trip. This is the message I missed the first time I watched the movie – Frances begins to live her life as if and it changes everything.
She immerses herself in her new life; learning to speak Italian, forging new friendships, creating a home and life for herself. She learns to cook Italian style from an elderly neighbor and makes wonderful meals for the contractors who are working at her house everyday. She emerges from her cocoon of self-absorption and self-pity and begins to get involved in the lives of the people around her. She breaks through her long struggle with writer’s block. She becomes like a big sister to one of the young Polish workers and helps him with his romantic problems. Her pregnant friend, whose relationship ended badly, arrives unexpectedly from San Francisco and Frances gives her, and then her baby, a home. In the end, a friend has to point out to her that she actually has received everything she wished for. She didn’t even realize it since the wishes weren’t fulfilled in the way she had envisioned them – she did find people to cook for, there was a wedding at her home when her young Polish friend got married, she did create a family with her friends and her house was full of love. At the end of the movie when Frances feels good about herself again and is surrounded by the happy life she has created, a new love enters.
I’m well aware that this could come across like a load of you-know-what but bear with me! I have read a lot about such ideas as “changing your thoughts to change your life”, “choosing to experience your circumstances differently”,” envisioning your life the way you want it to be” and “living as if everything you want is already in place”. I have also put a lot of effort into putting those ideas into practice, admittedly with different degrees of success at different times. Simply stated, when things are not going the way you desire just try acting as if you are happy, healthy, wealthy, loved, successful … whatever it is you wish. I know it sounds crazy but try pretending that everything is the way you want it to be and imagine how you would feel if that were true. It’s kind of similar to the “fake it til you make it” theory – smile and act happy and, before long, you will notice that you actually feel happy. At first it seems like you are just fooling yourself but, after a while, you will begin to actually feel different and, if you keep at it, you will also start to notice small changes in your life. I’m not claiming it always works but, what have you got to lose? While you’re taking positive action to change your life why not also act as if you’re already there? You will begin to attract into your life more of the things you want – you will also discover that some of them were already there and you didn’t realize it. And, perhaps most importantly, be prepared to recognize when your wishes are fulfilled because they may not appear in the shape you imagined!
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