Shopping for gifts in a small town in Italy I came across the most beautiful handpainted Limoncello serving set; my parents are big fans of Limoncello so immediately I knew it was the perfect gift. The six shot glasses, bottle, and serving dish made it's way delicately packaged and into my suitcase and crossed oceans to make its way to my parents dining room to then sit... for three years.

I gave them the set as well as two bottles of authentic Limoncello, so it wasn't that they didn't have anything to put into it! For months I would go to their house and see the unopened bottles and unused set and ask 'you haven't enjoyed this yet?!' and each time the same response: 'we're saving it for a special occasion.'

My Nonnie (grandmother) passed away while I was on that trip to Italy. Thousands of miles from home I took a blow that I was and was not ready for. We're not talking about a grandmother that you have to go and visit a couple times a month. We're talking about a woman who practically raised us all. I knew her time was coming, and though I wasn't really ready I kind of was, and I owe that to her.  My Nonnie never lived a when/then kind of life. She never waited for when she got that new job, then she would enjoy this new thing; or when she lost that weight, then she'd celebrate herself. She lived a in-the-moment, purpose driven life. The older I get the more things I learn about her.  She was dealt some blows that have the potential to leave a person wrecked with despair, sorrow, and misery but instead she still loved life and all it had to offer. She still lived a in the moment, purpose driven life.

I had brought home a couple of nice bottles of wine for myself on that trip and once the funeral was over and traveling family had gone home I thought about opening one of those bottles but then thought, 'I'll save it for a special occasion'. I promise you as I walked away the glasses that hang on a wire wine rack clanged together. I know in the deepest fibers of my being that was her. And she wanted me to have the good wine - now. It was a special occasion.

For the next three months (until it was gone) I finished the day with a glass of the good wine. Sometimes it was just me on my porch, sometimes it was me and my husband, or in the company of friends but regardless those three months changed me. It was healing. It was powerful. And by the time the bottles were gone I found out that I wouldn't be drinking wine for the next nine months... that special occasion I'd been waiting on for a couple of years was on it's way; due the same month as my Nonnie's birthday, no less.

I have at times felt that wrecked with despair, sorrow and misery; I've also just felt bummed out for no good reason but I also still love life and all it has to offer. That means they're all special occasions. Each day that you have another chance, another choice, another moment... it's a special occasion. Drink the good wine. Burn the good candles. Buy the flowers just because. Live an in-the-moment, purpose driven life.

Sweat & Smiles,

Melissa

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