Not Without Hope – Nancy Stolfo-Corti

I met Nancy over a dinner shared by a group of disparate but like-minded folks. Everyone was an entrepreneur and an idea-driven individual. Although an introvert by nature, Nancy does not let her need for quiet reflection and thinking keep her from serving and caring for numerous people around her. She has a passion for nourishing people, not just through food but also by listening and showing compassion. We’ve met for coffee and lunch on a couple of occasions and each time my spirit is filled with joy and delight.

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Nancy Stolfo-Corti in her kitchen

Nancy Stolfo-Corti in her kitchen

If we waited for the perfect time to have children, to get married or to buy a house, there would be very few homes and/or children created. In times of crisis, you must take what you have and move forward- there is never going to be a better time to do anything- so why should difficult times be any different? Take inventory of what is right in your world and use that to carry you through. In the words of Winston Churchill, “If you are going through Hell, just keep going.”  I have.

Living most of my adult life in Tuscany, I learned a valuable lesson- the less people had the more they were willing to give. Of all the locals that I met while living there, the most noble of beings were the country folk that gave generously of their larders and their knowledge. They brought me fresh cheeses, eggs and tomatoes for my small children. They showed me how to find edible wild greens in the fields, and mushrooms, asparagus and berries in the woods. They taught me about dried beans and grains and how to make my own bread with just flour, water and a small piece of old dough as a starter. They taught me that the richness I had was in my parents who taught me to be imaginative and generous. The generosity of these people was not in what they gave as much as what they taught me and how they made me feel.

I have never been hungry and have always been able to make a feast even when I was unemployed and down on my luck. One year, when I was particularly homesick and wanted a jack-o-lantern for Halloween, my husband made me feel guilty about the expense – pumpkins in Italy, in the fall, can run over $100 apiece – because it was something he didn’t think we needed. I got my jack-o-lantern but also used the flesh to create pies, ravioli, lasagna, velvety soups, breads and jams. Better yet, I was able to share my feasts with friends, family and perfect strangers who were struggling even more than we were.

With kindness and creativity, we can make the dreariest of times magical.

When people dwell on the negative aspects of life they seem to multiply. I know people who complain that their life is ‘crap’. My suggestion is to take their bag of  ‘manure’ and find a garden to fertilize. There’s always something you can do, no matter how small – give your time to help a neighbor, write letters to or for an elderly person, bring someone flowers, or commit any act of kindness. You have the ability to make your world right. And, when you have righted your world, the rest of the world will follow. You can always have hope. ~ Nancy Stolfo-Corti


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