We women are just natural go-getters, aren’t we? Many of us are inertly driven: at work, at home, in the community, and at the gym. The list goes on. It can be exhausting juggling the many balls in our lives. We all think it’s normal, this fast-paced, hectic lifestyle we lead: 9-to-5 job (who am I kidding? It’s more like 8:30-to-6:30. Can someone please tell me how Corporate America managed to log an extra couple of our hours?!). When we come home, we take our children to a myriad of sports, music or arts lessons. We crawl towards the finish line: the weekend, where many of us spend hours cleaning, prepping and shopping for the next week.
When did life become so boring and rigid?
Here’s a dirty, little secret: there IS a society in which women still live a more balanced, natural lifestyle. It’s called the Mediterranean. It’s way more than just a diet. It’s a lifestyle that we can copy here in the West.
I moved to Cyprus, the island of Aphrodite, 10 years ago. I watched, listened and learned the ways of the local women. With their glowing skin, perfectly piqued eyebrows, and harmonious lifestyles, they seemed to manage life’s precarious situations a bit more elegantly. Aphrodite swims through the veins of the women in Cyprus and throughout the Mediterranean. Here’s what I learned:
- They let go more easily
Before the Med: Like the proverbial square peg in a round hole, I used to force life’s hand. I was a control freak. A total Type A who liked to get things D-O-N-E (preferably yesterday). But boy, when things didn’t work out, did I get tired/angry/frustrated. I usually ended up in tears of frustration.
After the Med: Breathe. Life ebbs and flows in the Mediterranean. Actually, it ebbs and flows, everywhere. But there are less distractions in Cyprus. We can’t control everything, and what fun would it be if we could?
- They pray
Before the Med: Stellar careers are matched with stellar husband and stellar children. Weekend warriors are businessmen and women, racing to the airports on Sunday evenings or early Monday mornings. Weekend warriors also include the travel-sports family (insert soccer mom joke here). Clinics, tournaments, practices and theater rehearsals have replaced incense, sermons and devotionals.
After the Med: Reclaim your Sabbath. Whatever that means to you: Friday, Saturday or Sunday (or all 3!) and spend time rejuvenating. In the Med, women pray as a family before meals, and when things get tough at work/home/illness, they rush to church, light a candle or seek advice from their local rabbi/priest/imam. Spirituality is still central.
- They know work is not as important as family
Before the Med: Deadlines, reports, presentations and budgets. Meetings upon meetings to discuss our next meeting. Must find new clients or the best new marketing scheme, else we lose existing clients. Expand or die. Make your targets; meet with the press. Promote ourselves, our branches, our business on social media or else be considered a dinosaur.
After the Med: Despite the siesta jokes, Mediterraneans are busy, too. But they know that the presentation can wait until the morning to send out. Bosses understand that a working mom (or dad) needs to get back to feed children supper. Family comes first, the rest follows. Guess what? The world does not fall apart.
- They rely on their Village
Before the Med: We Western Superwomen are another breed: we work, workout, have children, volunteer, clean our own homes, wash our own laundry, cook elaborate meals (and Instagram them), make unique, homemade costumes for Halloween (thank you Pinterest!), still look sexy/hot/desirable/ over 40 or 50, try Orange Theory, Mud Runs, Triathlons, pop vitamins, do a cleanse, detox and more. We do it all ourselves, and then watch Netflix to relax, while skimming FaceBook feeds by night. What a life.
After the Med: Superwoman was a fictional character (who rocked briefs, Linda Carter!). Women rely on a vast and intricate village, including, but not limited to, parents, siblings and friends to help with the child-rearing, cooking, and laundry. If no one lives nearby, they buy help when they can afford it. They pitch in to help one another (I have personally helped clean another woman’s house and on multiple occasions helped cook for a party, and clean up after many-a party). If someone looks tired, frail, we don’t daintily ask “is there anything you need?” We get in there, roll up our sleeves and help with the dirty work. Because we know one day soon, we will need their help soon.
- They worry less
Before the Med: those furrowed brows and lines do not need Botox. We need a change in our mental attitude. Let go, forgive those who hurt you, pray more and focus less on work and more on relationships.
After the Med: if it won’t matter to me in 1 year, then I try to not worry about it. There’s something intoxicating about shrugging my shoulders and saying “ah screw it!”