The Leonardo Project

Today I would like to share with you a story about the past. My past, when I was almost a teenager.

So we are talking about the 90s in Italy, when I attended the “Middle School” (it. scuola media, 10-13 years old). Since my parents were both working in the production and logistic of two multinational companies (Unilever and Artsana), they chose to send me to school in the afternoon by subscribing me to a particular new project.

The Leonardo Project

The name of this project was “The Leonardo Project”. Yes Leonardo as that Leonardo. What was it about? – You may ask yourself.

It was a full day school project. When I was lucky, I was able to be at home at 14:15 and when I was even luckier, I got the chance to stay at school for lunch and come back home at 16:15. Saturday was also a mandatory school day.

Why am I grateful about it even now when I live in Germany and I’m 36?! This question has a simple answer: I learned a lot of things at that time. Since I was good in school, I got the chance to learn Latin and German. I had the opportunity to learn to swim and play real hockey with my school mates. I had the first mobbing experiences because I was too sporty and the other girls too jealous. I had the possibility to learn art and art history. I felt passionate about writing and learned my mother language Italian in its depth. I could take part to a group of theater and even write a screenplay.

Giving your children to school care is always a good decision: you should never regret it or think you are an absent parent. I hope my mother and my father didn’t even think like this for a second.

Today is Thanksgiving Day in the US and I’m grateful about that time, that project, those teachers and my middle school. I’m grateful about my parents who decided a very good thing for my education. I’m grateful about my sister which helped me out in dealing with mobbing with extreme class. I’m grateful about those boys and girls who shared with me that time.

I didn’t forget.

Feeling out of balance?

Sometimes, when you feel that your energy is low, the solution might not be resting. What you may need could be some quality time doing things that make you feel good.

Seeing a friend, doing sport, going for a walk or practicing self-care can bring your energy back faster than being lazy on the couch.

In the last few months my energy level was low, I couldn’t find peace and regenerate. I felt out of balance and I couldn’t help myself. I needed to do something good for my soul. I came to the conclusion that I was feeling homesickness. So I booked a flight to Milan because I needed time with my dearest friends and my mother.

Two weeks ago the day arrived and I flew for the weekend to Milan. I saw most of my oldest friends and my mother, I had good talks and loud laughs with them. This trip was exactly what I needed. On my way home I felt more energetic and I was so grateful for this time in Milan with my people.

In order to recharge, sometimes taking action works better than pure and classical rest. So, the next time you feel out of balance, ask yourself: “What do I need most?” Maybe spending time with your dearest friends is a better alternative to laying down on the couch.

Waiting to take off

Celebrate your life

The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.

Oprah Winfrey

It is when you start to focus on the small joys that you notice your life is full of them. In this process it’s important that you learn to accept your life as it is with all the challenges you are facing, seeing them as a possibility to grow.

Putting the light on the beautiful things in your life by naming and celebrating them will give you a sense of inner peace.

Happiness is love and you start to feel happy when you begin to love your life as it is without fighting against yourself. A positive mindset attracts positive things so that you will find yourself celebrating your life in every possible occasion. You will be able, for example, to notice and appreciate a small thing like a beautiful flower in your garden.

A beautiful flower in my garden

Recognize the beauty in your life

Recently I passed by this beautiful fountain which is on a street I often walk. I’ve never noticed it before and I got fascinated by the beauty of its architectural idea.

When we open our eyes to the beauty of the world it changes our perspective.

Everyday take a moment to reflect on what surprised you positively. By naming what makes your life beautiful you can train yourself to see the bright side of life also in difficult periods. If you do it regularly, you will be surprised how easy it gets to notice the beautiful things you encounter during your day.

A fountain that seems a tea pot – Weil der Stadt

The best choice

I came across this picture shared by Hal Elrod on Instagram and reading his words made me think.

This sentence says a lot about Hal as a person, about his energetic and enthusiastic character but also about how he chose to be like this.

We can always choose who we want to be and how we want to feel. We can choose to complain and see the things in our life as bad or not enough. We can choose not to accept our current situation or to be constantly looking for a change, doing nothing in order to reach it. This is easy: it does not require any efforts.

But does it bring us further?!

Surely not.

Happiness, acceptance, confidence and productivity are better choices. They require engagement but they lead you to be the person you know you can be.

By accepting your life and being content about it, you will gain confidence and you will be more productive because you are more aware about what you can perform.

If you can imagine yourself doing something, this is the first step to reach that status. What follows are commitment and exercise. You will feel automatically happier in the moment you realize that you are doing your best every day. This is enough to be proud of yourself and to enjoy your life. Try it!

Be grateful for your body

During the last period, in my daily gratitude practice, I’m reflecting a lot about how grateful I am for my functioning body.

We only tend to notice how good our body worked when something is wrong with it and we get, for example, injured or sick. Furthermore we are always too negative about our body shape and we wish we were thinner or fitter.

What we forget is that our body hosts us and gives us the possibility to do and reach whatever we want. We can walk, spring, drive, carry heavy things and exercise. Its health is not something we should take for granted.

So be grateful for your body, honor it and be gentle with it: after all it gives your mind a place to be without setting any condition.

Our body gives us its unconditionate presence.

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

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

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