The importance of a real social network

On Tuesday I was on the train commuting back from Stuttgart as a young woman sat next to me. Without paying attention my eyes fell on the display of her smartphone. I noticed then that she was on a video-call with another woman, probably one of her friends. After a bit of time I saw they added another women in the call. This made me think about how important it is for us women to have a social network to which we feel we belong.

Having a group of friends is important at every age, relying on them can even save you in negative moments.

I always thought friendship is a mutual relationship but at the same time I think that if somebody is important for you, you should show it. In a friendship it doesn’t count who does more.

You can show yourself to your friends in any status you are feeling because they know you well and they are there to support you.

In these times when everything is virtual, it is crucial to keep in mind that having a real social network counts: people who genuinely care about us and are there for us in every situation.

During this holiday season, I invite you to make a gift to your friends being there for them and showing them how grateful you are for their friendships.

Our friends are our home base.

Source: Calm

The meaning of life is love

The act of love begins with the very definition of meaning. It begins by stepping outside of the self to connect with and contribute with something bigger. “Being human – Frankl wrote – always points or is directed to something or someone other than oneself – be it a meaning to fulfill or another human being to encounter. The more one forgets himself — by giving himself to a cause to serve or another person to love — the more human he is”. That’s the power of meaning. It’s not some great revelation. It’s pausing to say hi to a newspaper vendor and reaching out to someone at work who seems down. It’s helping people get in better shape and being a good parent or a good mentor to a child. It’s sitting in awe beneath a starry night sky and going to a medieval prayer service with friends. It’s opening a coffee shop for struggling veterans. It’s listening to a loved one’s story. It’s taking care of a plant. These may be humble acts on their own. But taken together, they light up the world.

The Power Of Meaning *Crafting a Life That Matters – Emily Esfahani Smith
A great audiobook read by Mozhan Marno

I’m enough and I do enough

It is very difficult for me to say to myself this sentence and to truly believe in the message it carries.

All began when I was 13 and I passed the final exam of the middle school with an A-. After I was informed about the result, I remember that I went happily home and told my father about it. His reply changed the way I started seeing myself and my achievements, he told me: “And why didn’t you get A+?”. I got upset about him not being proud of me and my result and started doubting about my means.

I know probably he didn’t mean it as I interpreted it and just wanted me to do always my best but this question brought me to think my performance were not enough.

“It is always possible to do more”, a dear friend once told me but to accept and be happy with what you achieved through your hard work is one of the real secrets of life.

I’m enough and I do enough, I’m committed to my life and try everyday to do my best for me and for the people I care about, some days with better results than others.

We have to be gentle to ourselves: we are all human beings and perfection isn’t one of our characteristics by default.

A gentle reminder in the Calm App

A translation game on holiday

Yesterday night I arrived in my hometown in Italy and I had a nice idea. Since I have a background as a translator and I have a week holiday with no particular plans, I could play a translation game with you. I will post every day a sentence that I found inspiring and share with you the respective translations. So you will read the text in English, Italian, German and Spanish. The first three languages will be translated by me and when Spanisch is not the source text I will translate the sentences using a Machine Translation Tool, because my Spanish is ok but not that good that I can translate and also because I would like to test the performance of these tools. Ready, steady, go!

The force of life

“My thoughts turn to something I read once, something the Zen Buddhists believe. They say that an oak tree is brought into creation by two forces at the same time. Obviously, there is the acorn from which it all begins, the seed which holds all the promise and potential, which grows into a tree. Everybody can see that. But only a few can recognize that there is anther force operating here as well – the future tree itself, which wants so badly to exist that it pulls the acorn into being, drawing the seedling forth with longing out of the void, guiding the evolution from nothingness to maturity. In this respect, say the Zens, it is the oak tree that creates the very acorn from which it was born.”

Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia

The three types of wisdom

By Tamara Levitt

Today I would like to talk about wisdom. There are three different type of wisdom. The first is wisdom we hear from others, perhaps in a conversation where someone impart the truth. Then there is intellectual wisdom: when we go further into intellectual understanding perhaps by reading a book or taking a course. Finally there is the third type of wisdom when we experience insight and truth first hand for ourselves: this is experiential wisdom.

I’ll share a simple example of how S. N. Goenka describes the three type of wisdom from the perspective of being in a restaurant environment. First wisdom heard: this is when a friend recommend a restaurant and we read positive reviews. We have a favorable impression and decide to make a reservation. The next level of wisdom is deeper where we gain intellectual understanding, we show up, get seated and browse the menu. As a server passes by we see the delectable dishes, our mouth waters and our tummy grouses. Last and third type of wisdom occurs when we receive our food. We taste and know it’s good for ourselves: this is experiential learning, applied wisdom. This third type of wisdom is the most powerful, the one that leads to transformation and liberation. Wisdom that arise through our own experience.

As Confucius said: “I hear and I forget, I see and I rememeber, I do and I understand”.

The streetlight effect

Today I share with you a story that Tamara Levitt told during my meditation session with her on Tuesday using the Calm app. I found what she said very interesting and inspiring because I think that sometimes we only tend to see what is comfortable for us but not what we may work on in oder to shape our character to become that person we have always aimed to be.

The title of this story is ‘The streetlight effect’ and it comes from an old parable. Late one night a policeman sees an elderly man searching for something under the streetlight. The policeman approaches him to ask what he has lost. The man explains that he has lost his keys and they both continue looking under the streetlight together. After a short while, the policeman asks if he is sure he lost them here and the man replies: “No, I’ve lost them in the park!”. The policeman then asks: “Why are you searching here?!” and the man responds: “This is where the light is”.

So we are often tempted to look for a solution where it is easiest to look rather than going into the depths of the root causes of our problems. Our relationship is failing and we don’t want to deal with it, so instead we throw ourselves into our work. We have an interpersonal conflict at work and we don’t want the discomfort of a confrontation, so we just ignore the person. We are feeling down or dissatisfied and, rather than facing our pain, we seek escape in food, shopping or entertainment but these things only bring momentary pleasure and soon we are once again confronted with our difficulties.

We are habituated to looking outside of ourselves for answers but, when the problems we are facing is an internal one, usually the solution lies within and this is good news: we already have all that we need. We just need the insight and courage to confront our difficulties head-on. The truth we seek, the answers and solutions lie within. So it may be difficult to turn inward in time of challenge but this is the work of our practice. When we learn to stay and face fear and discomfort and open ourselves to experience, rather than shut down or turn away, we can be sure we’re digging in the right place.
As Emma Tiebens said: Going inward. That’s the real work. The solutions are not outside of us. Get to know who you really are, because as you search for the hero within, you inevitably become one.

The strteetlight in Sevilla, Plaza de España

Throwback: one night in a tree house

December 2016
Reserva Natural Tanimboca, Leticia – Amazonia (Colombia)

We are spending the night in the highest tree house of the Reserva Natural and are both very excited about it.

Our tree house in Tanimboca: such an amazing experience sleeping there for one night!

It is late afternoon, about one hour after our arrival.

Dominik: “Let’s make a deal, Angy – OK?!”
Me: “Yes!”
Dominik: “Tonight, before we go to bed, we don’t look at the floor. Is it clear?!”
Me: “OK, I’m in!”

After this brief conversation, we experienced a night walk with our tour guide Richard through the jungle and could appreciate the wild nightlife there. We had a delicious dinner and nice talks with a ‘Gringo’, a young man from the US working in Colombia as a teacher, and a Colombian family, whose 9 year old son was learning Chinese in the school. They were also spending the night in Tanimboca. Then Richard brought us back to the tree house and Dominik and I read a book together.
After a while, we were about going to bed…

Me: “I know we had a deal… but I… I just saw something… there…”
Dominik: “What? Where?”
Me: “Behind you: a giant cockroach!!!”

A giant cockroach, picture from the internet. The one we saw was a lot smaller, I like to exaggerate 😂

OK, OK… It was not as big as this one in the picture, but for me almost.

Happy ending: Dominik did something very brave and ‘accompanied’ (read here: kicked kindly) the cockroach out of the door. I kept the promise and didn’t look at the floor anymore. Finally we fell asleep lulled by the natural sounds of the jungle.

As currently none of us can travel, I thought it would be a good idea to share this memory with you.
I would always repeat this experience in the tree house in Tanimboca, if I had the chance. I really would, a little bit also because of the cockroach: I’m honest!
I’m also very grateful that Ronny of Kolumbien linda Tours helped us to organize our journey in Colombia giving us the possibility to enjoy a fantastic holiday there.

There is nothing more magical than the sunset at the sea

My mother comes originally from a town near Salerno called Cava de’ Tirreni. This city is not directly on the sea but it is not far from the first city on the Amalfi Coast, called Vietri sul Mare. When I was a child I used to spend about one month in summer there and, since I have a lot of relatives there, I always felt at home. I have always been fascinated by the characteristic colors of the buildings on the coast, by the hospitality of the people and by the small ceramic stores that you can find practically everywhere.

This September we had the possibility to spend two weeks in Cava de’ Tirreni and it is incredible how, even if I never really lived there, I feel these places part of me. I feel a sensation of belonging especially when I remain so long on the beach that I can see the sunset.

For me there is nothing more magical than having the possibility to watch the sun going down below the sea level.

Watching the sunset at the sea, one of my favorite thing

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From last Friday on I know that every day will be a good day, that’s the reason why:

Gocciole with milk – a typical Italian breakfast