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

The 12-times rule to start with sport

With our friends in summer we organize once a year a big garden party open to the public. During these parties one of my favorite thing, together with being a bartender for an evening, is the conversations that happen by the light of the fire after the sunset. With such an atmosphere, people tend to open themselves to discuss all kind of topics with a calm attitude.

Three years ago a friend and I were involved in such a conversation with Matthias, who at that time began working also as a personal trainer. We were talking about sport and he told us something that I found very interesting and I never thought about. He said: “You only have to start doing sports for 12-times but being constant. For example, if you decide to work out every day, you have to do it for 12 days. After 12-times you will not only notice that you are enjoying it but also that your body needs it. The same principle can be applied if you decide to work out once a week, do it for 12 weeks and you will see”.

I always need some time even to apply such wise tips but now, three years later, I can confirm his thesis.

My online sport classes look like this

Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, I started working out regularly from my living room and since June I have being exercising every day before I start to work.

I practice Yoga, Pilates and Functional Training: I subscribed to the Online Studio of Moveorespiro, the studio where I used to go every week in the past. After stopping playing volleyball when I moved to Germany, I’m enjoying doing sport again thanks to these disciplines.

I started motivated for 12-times and now while having breakfast my body is really craving for movement.

I can only advise you the same that Matthias told me: it’s never too late to start with sport, if you think you should begin exercising more, commit with yourself and do it for 12-times consequently. You will be proud of yourself and see improvements!

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.
Gretchen_Rubin_Moment_of_Happiness