Those coffees with your friends…

I learned pretty fast that the female is a social folk. I spent a lot of Saturday afternoons as a teenager sitting with my mother at her best friend’s kitchen table listening to their conversations. The first thing that Tina, my mom’s best friend, did when we came in was turning on the Italian coffee maker and preparing us an espresso.

The two women were talking about everything without a specific plot: about their children, their job, what happened in the village, some difficulties and of course also about their husbands.

It was a simple way of meeting, often even unplanned: just two friends talking in front of a cup of coffee. For me instead, it was always very interesting to observe those two women, that meant so much for my growth, discussing and supporting each others.

I think women need more than men the feeling of belonging to a community. That’s why they always tend more to take care of the people in their environment and keep the contact alive.

Furthermore I think meeting a friend for a coffee has also a therapeutic character. It takes you out of your routine, it gives you impressions of somebody else’s life and offers you the possibility to feel useful because your friend might need your advice.

Now that I’m in my 30s I discovered again this tradition and I’m proudly carrying it on: I love meeting friends for a cup of coffee and some sincere talks. OK, we do it now in a slightly more modern way: we meet in a cafe and add to the coffee a slice of cake.

Last Sunday, for example, I discovered thanks to my friend Oleksandra a very nice cafe in the eastern area of Stuttgart: it’s called Taraba. They have a delicious offer of cakes and the coffee tastes like coffee should.

Like my mum and Tina, we talked about everything and it felt good. That’s what every woman should have: a friend ready to drink a cup of coffee and to enjoy spending an afternoon with you.

My double espresso macchiato and cake at Taraba – Stuttgart

Rediscovering the importance of communities

I don’t know exactly what to write in a time like this, I just feel that I have to write something.

As you know I’m Italian from a small town near Milan and I live in Stuttgart, Germany. I was in my hometown from 21 to 23 february and visited my mum and friends as the first person died in Lombardy of coronavirus. That’s why I had to work the following two weeks from home in order to protect the health of my colleagues.

Staying home alone for me is always a challenge but I managed it very good: I even cooked and went for a walk during the lunch break.

I started immediately to follow more closely the Italian and German news. Thank God we live in a connected world so I had the possibility to stay in touch with my friends and family and stay updated about the consequences of the government directives on their immediate lives.

Last Monday I got back to the office and I don’t know exactly how the situation will develop in the next few weeks here in Germany. Baden-Württemberg is closing on Tuesday all schools and kindergartens at least till Easter. A lot of companies are enabling their employees to work from home also to take care of their children.

What I observed in this last period is the solidarity of the people both in person and online.

I was asked by a lot of people here about my family and loved ones in Italy and everybody seemed truly concerned and interested.

I heard on the Italian radio a lot of stories of people that keep going to their workplaces to enable the population to satisfy the basic needs.

I’m following the hashtag #resistereallabbruttimento started by the radio host Claudia de Lillo (@quielasti) on Instagram that offers the possibility to share photos or videos of activities at home in order to fight the discomfort. I have to say that Italians confirm their creativity sharing contents like baking cakes and biscuits, preparing pizza and focaccia, gardening, de-cluttering, doing sport, singing or playing instruments and a lot of games with children.

I also saw in some people the panic rising and this was obvious. I only hope that everyone will understand that fear and anxiety are not constructive feelings and will preserve their inner balance.

This difficult time is a challenge for us but we are facing it together.

I see it as a possibility to grow with my own family and in my neighborhood here in Stuttgart-West. Maybe it is a possibility to focus again on the importance of our communities and of the civic sense that in our capitalistic society got lost.

I already see a lot of solidarity here in Stuttgart-West. I follow online some local shops, restaurants and cafes that are building a community to help each other even if for them this is a period of great uncertainty. They all don’t know how long they will stay open. I see here also a lot of young people offering their help to elderly people as it happened in Italy.

I’m also proud to hear that people who understand Italian are reading a lot of Italian newspapers because they find them more informative. In my country the situation is serious but I think other countries are looking to Italy and taking example of it.

I’m very confident that we will handle this situation and, as I read in an article published by Repubblica, we will appreciate more our daily routine when we will have the possibility to get back to it.

After the rain comes the rainbow.

A rainbow on the Caribbean island of Dominica
A rainbow on the Caribbean island of Dominica

Aurora

It was the 17th December when I met her. We were in Paris on our way to Dominica and felt already lucky that our TGV run normally since the public transport in France was already on strike. It was very chaotic at the station, all the people did not go how to reach their destinations. We were speaking to a customer service employee of the public transport and had a lot of difficulties to understand each other, because I can not speak French and she didn’t speak English. Then Aurora came: a very beautiful young woman from Guadalupe that could speak French. She was also heading to the Orly Airport and she offered immediately to bring us there too. She spoke to the employee and understood what to do in order to reach the airport.
Pretty soon we found out that we were both flying to the Caribbean. Her flight to Pointe-à-Pitre was at 15:30, our to Martinique was at 16:30.
You know the feeling when you meet somebody for the first time and it seems so easy to tell this person everything about your life?! Well for me and for Aurora it was like that. We spoke on the bus about everything, in German you would say “about God and the world”.
She is a French teacher, living near London and she started her journey at 2:30 in Oxford to visit her family in Guadalupe. She lived in France during her childhood and dreamed to move in summer to Panama.
During the chaotic journey – we had to take a bus which was stuck in the traffic and then waited for 40 minutes for an other that did not come and at the end we decided to take a taxi to the airport – Aurora also said something that impressed me.
We were doing all we could to reach the airport. When the bus wasn’t moving at all and we were worried not come on time, she said something like: “Well, we are trying: it must end good”. Then when I said that, without her, we would have been lost she said: “We all have the same goal, the least we could do is to help each other”.
I will never forget Aurora for the fact that she helped us to start our holiday in a good way and for what she told me. The most important thing when you have a goal is to start and try to reach it, when you meet people with the same target do not see them as competitors, work together and help each other.

Thanks, help and sorry

Thanks, help and sorry are three simple words that children are able to learn in their first 6 years of life.

If you are questioning this affirmation maybe you should think more about the importance of education. Education is a process that not only happens in the school but it’s also very related with habits and parenthood.

I asked lately the following question to myself: Do I use these three words at least once in a day?

I was not sure about the answer and yes, that’s why I’m writing this article.

I think these three words are also very important at work. People tend not to use them often, and I admit that I sometimes also don’t. I think such a behaviour leads to being not so good in your job and therefore to a worse performance.

Well, according to my opinion, if we want to change it, we all have the three following options:

1. Read the fucking manual (RFTM): self care books. It may sound esoteric but this will lead you to a positive development.

2. Cultivate an hobby and develop a passion, so that you will know your limits and will learn to let go when you can’t control a thing.

3. Automatically you will search for help and feel sorry. It’s ok to show you vulnerability: believe me you’ll be surprised by how many friends’ll come to support you.

I recently watch the following TED video, it might inspire you too?

Thank you for sharing this quote with me, Gretchen!

This last week wasn’t easy for me and I hope you had a better one.

One of the greatest moments I had these days was reading the Moment of Happiness e-mails of Gretchen Rubin. If you rememeber, I already wrote about this newsletter a few months ago.

The following sentence has become my new motto: that’s why I didn’t sort the e-mail in my personal mailbox into another folder. Now I decided to share it with you.

I’m always grateful to receive Gretchen’s favorite quotes and to have the possibility to read the texts she writes. I find women like her a positive inspiration. Feel free not to agree with me but let me write it anyway 🙂

Have a great weekend, do something you like and stay with the people you love!

Andy Warhol quoted by Gretchen Rubin
‘Moment of Happiness — The Happiness Project’ is a free newsletter created by the American writer Gretchen Rubin I decided to subscribe to. Copyright Gretchen Rubin

Moment of Happiness by Gretchen Rubin

Do you know the Moment of Happiness of Gretchen Rubin?! But you already know I like her a lot, admire her as a female author and role but I don’t want to repeat myself in this post (or maybe just a little bit). My goal is to introduce you to this experiment.
The Moment of Happiness is a daily Newsletter that you can subscribe and receive via e-mail. It’s not long and it does not contain advertisement (or maybe just a little bit). The content of the e-mail is mostly a sentence, or better a quote, that Gretchen picks and sends to you.
I subscribed moved by my curiosity and also because I always like to take note of sentences I read and liked. So I was curious to see what kind of quotes Gretchen chooses to share. These e-mails give me, in days like today, faith and hope not only Moments of Happiness. Below you can read today’s Moment of Happiness by Gretchen Rubin.
I hope it reaches you well.
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Walking with Thich Nhat Hanh – The art of Mindful Living

For my 30th birthday Ursel sent me the book Touching Peace of the Zen Buddhist Thich Nhat Hanh who created the Community Plum Village.

During the whole 2016 my mind was busy thinking about the meaning of the word Mindfulness. That Ursel gave me this book it was just a sign which indicated the importance of the concept of Mindfulness in my life. Recently I heard that the books you receive are never a coincidence and I think it is very true.

Reading Touching Peace was for me a great experience which made me feel a lot of good vibes. One of my favourite quotes of Hanh refers to the Christian values I grew up with: “To live in the present moment is a miracle. The miracle is not to walk on water. The miracle is to walk on the green Earth in the present moment, to appreciate the peace and beauty that are available now“.

Now I practice Mindfulness in my daily life. Indeed once a day I meditate with the App Calm (about which I will write a review in the next few weeks), I pray, I try to do something kind for an other person and appreciate to have something good in the fridge and to live in an multicultural and opened country like Germany.

To introduce you to the philosophy of the Zen Master Hanh, I share the trailer of a brand new film about him and his community, Walk with me.

You can find more details about this film and the Community of Plum Village on: http://walkwithmefilm.com/

Happier with Gretchen Rubin

I don’t remember exactly how but two months ago I discovered the American author Gretchen Rubin. Now I can’t stop listening to her audiobooks and reading her posts on Linkedin. After listening to her latest book Better than before, I bought Happier at Home and I can’t wait to read The Happiness Project.

I find Gretchen Rubin a great writer but above all I think she is a wonderful woman.

Below you can find some of her quotes I feel to share with you:

HAPPINESS

Happiness is a critical factor for work, and work is a critical factor for happiness. In one of those life-isn’t-fair results, it turns out that the happy outperform the less happy.

One major challenge within happiness is loneliness. The more I’ve learned about happiness, the more I’ve come to believe that loneliness is a terrible, common, and important obstacle to consider.

Although we often assume that feelings inspire actions, in fact, actions also inspire feelings. By pushing myself to act happier, I make myself feel happier.

HABITS

Better than before - Gretchen Rubin
Better than before – Gretchen Rubin

“People are powerfully moved by imagination, belief, and knowledge. They can consider the past and future. They can make changes in their behavior out of reason in a way that animals can’t do”.

“Habit allows us to go from ‘before’ to ‘after,’ to make life easier and better. Habit is notorious – and rightly so – for its ability to direct our actions, even against our will; but by mindfully shaping our habits, we can harness the power of mindlessness as a sweeping force for serenity, energy, and growth”.

“We can use decision-making to choose the habits we want to form, use willpower to get the habit started, then – and this is the best part – we can allow the extraordinary power of habit to take over. At that point, we’re free from the need to decide and the need to use willpower”.

“Give warm greetings and farewells. I was surprised by how much this resolution changed the atmosphere of my home”.

GENERAL ADVICES

“If you’re impatient while waiting for the bus, tell yourself you’re doing ‘Bus waiting meditation.’ If you’re standing in a slow line at the drugstore, you’re doing ‘Waiting in line meditation.’ Just saying these words makes me feel very spiritual and high-minded and wise”.

“Turn off your email; turn off your phone; disconnect from the Internet; figure out a way to set limits so you can concentrate when you need to, and disengage when you need to. Technology is a good servant but a bad master”.

“The days are long, but the years are short”.

Don’t be afraid to say “Not with me!”

What I learned in 2015 is not being afraid to dissociate myself from something I was not agreeing with. It could seem simple written like that, but in reality it’s not.

It has a lot to do with the image you have of what you are doing and of what you are part of. In some way it has also to do with your own dreams and goals. If you can not identify yourself with your current situation in a certain area of your life and you can not imagine to continue living like that in the near future, you have to change something. But taking the decision to change radically an aspect of your life requires courage and determination.

This year I had the courage to take such a decision. I said “Not with me” and it was so simple. I felt better after that: I was smiling again. I’m still facing the consequences of it and I had days where I wasn’t sure that I took the right decision, but in the end I know it was the right thing to do: there was not another way out.

I’m doing much better now, I’m happy with what I have and I feel grateful that I found the courage to stand up and leave when the rules of the game I was playing didn’t match with my own principles.

Don’t be afraid to say that you don’t agree with something and overall don’t be afraid to quit it. Be open to what comes next and trust your instinct: everything will be good. Stay focused and work on yourself, the sun rises every morning.

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