A tribute to the Phoenixes out there

I want to write a tribute to all the Phoenixes out there. I want to take some time to recognize all the human beings who are struggling with pain, any kind of pain, and surprisingly rising from their ashes. Time and time again.

Life is not fair. This is something I have been knowing for quite some time now. But it keeps surprising me how we always find the strength to get through the darkest times. There is a say about life giving you the challenges and obstacles that you are capable of surpassing. As if the universe knew how strong each of us is, and based on that, it decided to throw bad shit at us. It is not a game and it is not funny, but it is true that human beings are capable of great strength when it comes to handling death, loss and pain.

The power to feel alive again

Like a Phoenix, the legendary bird who regenerates cyclically, we have this incredible power to be born again, to rise from the most difficult moments of our life. It is never easy and it always hurts very much. But we do it. We get down and then we get back up, and we do what needs to be done in order to feel alive again.

I am not quite sure where this strenght comes from. Is it the animal instinct of survival? Maybe. It is fascinating and I feel extremely humbled by the pride and courage that people can show at their most difficult times.

This is my tribute to the Phoenixes out there. Keep on rising. Keep on unlocking your beautiful power. Do not lose the hope that better days can come again. Hang in there through difficult times. Do not forget that if the universe has thrown something difficult at you, it is because the universe believes in you. The universe has hope. Do not lose hope, because you can do it. And you are not alone. There are many amazing Phoenixes like you out there.

The importance of trying

Or, how a movie helped me realize the importance of trying.

Here is how I got to decide that I want to have an impact. And even if it turns out that I cannot have an impact (on anyone or anything), I should definitely at least try.

Yesterday, hubby and I watched “The Laundromat” on Netflix. First consideration: big praise and virtual high five for hubby, who offered me Netflix. Best Mother’s Day Gift EVER!

Second consideration: if I really wanted to be super accurate, I would say that yesterday we finished watching “The Laundromat”. We had started three days ago, but on day one hubby fell asleep 10 minutes into the movie. On day two, the kids decided they were not tired and wanted to play, so it took us 15 back and forth from their room before they finally fell asleep at 10pm (and so did we, which means no movie at all).

Important note: one of the back and forth was me running to the toilet after hearing the flush going for the 5th time in a row, only to find my 2 yo spilling water out of the toilet with his gun toy. No wonder you are exhausted and fall asleep in front of a movie after this!

Back to the film

Besides being a masterpiece with an incredible cast, the story is super sad and very real, which makes it even sadder. I am not going to spoiler anything so you can go and watch it for yourself. However, this movie kind of helped me understanding the importance of trying.

We clearly live in a world where the powerful and rich rule over the humble. Where the rich only care about getting richer. At any cost. As the movie illustrates, the humble are always screwed. The whole system is corrupted, given that even the laws are changed to suit the richest and to support the interests of the powerful ones. To help them become even richer and more powerful.

From deception to hope

At first, I felt so disarmed and useless and started wondering why bother, given that everything seems impossible when you are not part of that privileged crowd.

Then I realized that this was probably what that crowd would want me to feel. In order to not to fall in the trap, I had to focus on hope and the thought that things can be different.

If you think about it, hope is the only thing that keeps us strong in a world that seems to constantly drag us down. And that’s when I understood the importance of trying. If I want to keep the head out of the water and survive in a world of sharks, trying is the most important thing to do. In the end, if you want to change something the first thing to do is try, right?

Therefore, I have decided I want to make a difference. I want to have an impact, on someone’s life maybe, or by working on something that can help someone live better. Or at least, I want to try. Because in the end, if you know you have tried and you have done everything in your power to be the best you can possibly be, then you won’t have any regrets and you will definitely feel accomplished. Even if you do not get to the results you had planned or wished. It doesn’t matter. The most important is to try.

This is definitely what I want my kids to learn. Once you understand the importance of trying you become fearless and self-confident, which is the key to a healthy life. But first, I totally need to teach them how not to play with gun toys in the toilet.

Five reasons NOT to be perfect and live perfectly happy

Let’s start by saying that perfection does not exist.

Yes, you read that right. Perfection does not exist. What? Wait. That can’t be true! Well, luckily enough for all of us, it is true. Perfection is nothing but another very weird concept invented by human beings to feel like shit and make others feel like shit. It does not exist in nature, nature is not perfect, so why should we be?

I know this sounds super easy but actually what we are doing here is turning years of occidental education upside down (and most probably your mom and dad will not agree with me). I have only just found this out myself at the age of 34 and it took me at least a couple of months to start accepting that perfection is not a real thing (and I am still struggling with it).

Like you, I grew up with a huge social pressure on my shoulders: be the perfect daughter, then be the perfect friend, then the perfect girlfriend, the perfect wife, the perfect mum… it is all a big lie guys! The moment you acknowledge that perfection does not exist, you will immediately feel relieved and less stressed.

Trying to achieve something that does not exist is stupid.

Didn’t we just say that perfection does not exist? So stop trying to achieve it, you are losing your time running after the impossible, and how frustrating is that? Let’s focus on being as good as we can instead, without comparing ourselves to others at every step of the journey.

Life is not a competition and what you see on Instagram is not real (but I hope you knew this already at least. I mean, in a real world if Ariana Grande was really wearing white Crocs sandals with white socks the world would end and she would immediately lose the 6 millions of followers she has, right? That can’t be true come on!).

We should all aspire at being the best version of ourselves and that’s it.

Imperfections are your friend (and your strength).

We all have imperfections given that, as we just said, perfection does not exist. So stop feeling guilty about your imperfections! In a world where everyone ends up looking alike while trying to be perfect (with high boobs and a flat stomach and perfectly done nails and Kardashian’s contouring on your face – especially after you’ve had kids, and the gravity is not a friend of yours anymore), imperfections are what makes you different! Instead of trying to hide them, you should leverage them and use them to become stronger. 

Nobody is perfect! And if you do not want to believe me, at least you should believe Celine Dion and her new song “Imperfections”. So if we would all stop hiding our imperfections instead of faking it hard and showcasing a perfect life that we do not have, we’d all be friends!

Failure is part of the journey

Easier to say than to apply, I agree. But when failure comes, the only way to get through it is to embrace it; and while perfection does not exist, failure is very real but it is not as negative as we’ve been taught. It is simply the way we learn things.

Being a mom has taught me a lot of things. Surprisingly, most of them have been taught to me by my kids. Looking them learning something new every day, accepting and embracing failure every time, has amazed me. And the funny thing is, for them it does not just hurt emotionally, but physically too! Think about when they learn to walk

It is all in your hands.

This is not just a way of saying. A nice mantra that you read on those motivational cards on Instagram. I have tried this on my skin and can confirm that happiness is a state of mind. I am more and more convinced that you can chose if you want to be happy by the way you decide to look at yourself and at others. It’s basically the good old grandma’s “half full or half empty glass”. And most of the times, the answer to our questions is already there, inside us. Only, we are either looking for it in the wrong place.

Self-consciousness is the key. Our body already knows it all, the only thing we have to start doing is to listen to it. My therapist recommended this very funny and revealing series of YouTube video pills on emotions. I absolutely invite you to check it out as it’s amazingly inspiring and a great eye opener! You will learn that emotions are the language of the brain. This is the way your brain communicates with you, so it is super important to listen to them. Check-in on yourself daily and take action as required. I guarantee you will start to feel better immediately. Been there, done that!

Accept who you are: the art of not letting go

I am sick and tired of people telling me to “just let go”. When you accept who you are, acknowledging that we are not all the same, you can perfectly live without letting go.

How many times have you had someone say that to you?

“Just let go!”. As if it was the easiest thing. Oh, you are hurting because you had a rough phone conversation with your boss? Just let go! Oh, your to do list is growing instead of getting shorter and that gives you anxiety because you are afraid you won’t be able to achieve all of that at your best? Come on, don’t worry, just let go, it will be fine!

Well well. What if we were not all the same? Why can we not accept who we are and live with the fact that there are people (like me) who simply cannot let go?

I wish I was a robot

Sometimes, I wish I was a robot and could simply switch the “care button” off and just turn the page and move on. I remember that episode of “The Big Bang Theory” where Penny tries to teach Sheldon to let go. She tells him to think of his problem as if it was a pen, then simply take the pen and drop it on the table, letting go of that pen. And he just can’t, because even if his problem turned into a pen, he would still care about that pen (he’s been having that pen for so long and he cannot simply drop it on the table!). I love that episode.

There just are people (like me – and Sheldon) who are way more sensitive than average. The problem is that our society constantly criticizes and tells people like me off. We are either too kind or we care too much. Why can’t we just accept who we are? Embracing our differences and accepting how we are not, too. And how difficult it is for us to move away from certain situations.

Screw you, Elsa!

The truth is, the more you are connected and invested, the harder it will be to let something (or someone) go. If you care about others, if you show some compassion and humanity, super hard. When you lead your life by listening to your heart instead of your mind, you are basically screwed. Unfortunately, we live in a world where being sensitive is perceived as a weakness. Being kind is turned into being naive, or stupid.

So screw you, Elsa! Stop telling me I have to let it go. Maybe it is so easy for you given you are a beautiful queen living in the mountains with no bills to pay. Have I watched Frozen too many times? Yeah, I think mommy definitely needs some adult time.

Embracing failure

Today’s wake-up call is about embracing failure. In a world where everyone is running up to success (which nowadays seems to be measured in money, power and Instagram likes), people are starting to appreciate failure. It looks like making mistakes and accepting failure is becoming cool. And I truly believe this kind of acceptance is the best thing that could ever happen to us.

I just found out that the bakery at the corner of my street has closed. In a heartfelt note posted on the shop window, the baker explains that after 20 years of loyal service, she has decided to move on to a new challenge. A new chapter of her life.

I am super sad. I can still smell the perfume of her freshly baked pain au chocolat. Mmmh. This bakery was literally steps away from my door. On weekends, I was only steps away from those delicious freshly baked pastries and her orgasmic tartelettes aux citron. It will take me MONTHS to get used to this change. But this is not why I am telling you this story.

A big revelation

Let’s focus on the baker. She has decided to move on, to stop and change after 20 long years. she has accepted that something needed to change. She has taken the time to look at herself embracing failure. Bold. So very bold of her!

Just to give you an idea, I am soon to celebrate 10 years in my work career and that scares me, as I start to feel the need to move, to stop and change as the baker did. The only problem with that is that I still do not know what I would like to do next. No f***ing clue.

Back to the wake-up call now. If we can embrace failure and decide that failing is not only ok, but it is actually something to be proud of, we can also decide to be happy. We can decide that something that a minute ago was freaking us out is now inspiring us. It is all happening in our minds. What a responsibility!

This is huge guys. If making mistakes and accepting failure becomes cool it means that, in the end, we are finally recognizing that WE are the only real person responsible for our own happiness. We are the ones to decide if we are happy or not.

Think about it.

When you wake up in the morning and you had a good night sleep, you know it is going to be a good day. Right? When you are running late for work and you manage to catch the bus seconds before it hits the road again, you know the stars are with you and it is going to be a good day.

When your 3-year-old is sleeping in her bed for longer than 2 consecutive hours, and your 1-year-old has not asked for his milk after midnight, you know you will be sleeping at least for 6 consecutive hours and you also know that tomorrow is going to be a very good day. I know, baby steps, but better than the previous night’s 3 hours, right?

I think that we are just so formatted to always want more that we have somehow forgotten how to be happy just with what we have. And in the long run this is not doing us any good. What would happen if we’d try to concentrate more on what we already have? On our accomplishments, our achievements, instead of only focusing on our objectives? Let’s take some time to celebrate ourselves (for the good and the bad too). Even when at first sight we feel like there is nothing to celebrate, we surely have at least learned something. We should not be spending all our energies on thinking that we are not enough. We should on the contrary focus our time on training our self-esteem.

It’s all about acceptance.

I am not against successful people. I don’t think it’s a bad thing to pursue a better future. What I am saying is, we should also sometimes look at what we do have, instead of always only focusing on what we don’t have. and that also includes the mistakes we have made. It includes embracing failure and accepting who we are and where we are in the journey.

Let’s accept that it is ok not to always be perfectly groomed and excelling at all we do. We are allowed to feel crappy, lost and tired! Be indulgent with yourself. It’s ok not to have a plan, if you embrace it. You will never be good enough for people anyways. The sooner you accept this, the better.

Finding balance

Or – how you thought you had everything perfectly under control, but instead, you do not even know where your balance is and how you can find balance for a better life.

I have never really understood why people are so insensitive at work. It’s as if every morning, as soon as we walk into the office, something comes over us and makes us forget who we really are, that we’re here on earth for a blink of an eye and – instead of cherishing each other and making an effort to make this journey pleasant for all – we do our utmost to be jerks.

Does it really have to be like that?

Is that what’s needed to have a career and be successful? Could it not be different and should it not be different? Why are we being like this?

I can’t help but think that it’s a question of balance and most importantly finding balance for a better life. That famous “work-life” balance that’s filling up glossy magazines and empty HR promises. Is it really working? For whom? And how can we find our own?

Last Friday hubby and I were having dinner, alone, just the two of us. As it used to be. Before the kids, I mean. It’s crazy how difficult it is to get some space once you become parents! So we decided we would invest some money in a babysitter at least once a month to make time for those little “just the two of us” moments.

Anyways, when dessert arrived, he asked me what I wanted to do. Not after dinner; really, in my life, in the near future or in the long run…

I did not know. Scariest thing ever. How can I be almost 34 and not know what I want to do with my life?! I’m supposed to be the adult here – I’m supposed to have a plan. I should have found my balance already.

Where the hell is my balance?

Turns out, I really don’t know. Finding balance for a better life is not that easy.

It was not just because the dessert was so delicious that my mind was completely blown away (I had tarte Tatin with vanilla ice cream – orgasmic). I truly, really honestly, did not have an answer, and that was hard to admit, hard to live with. So I started thinking about it.

How come I do not know?

I have always been so sure about myself and I never thought moments like this one could happen – especially not as a thirty-something, working mom, married to a great guy who takes me out for tarte Tatin.

Wasn’t this supposed to happen in our senior year, when we had to choose which uni to pick? Or when you were dating both the good guy and the jackass and you didn’t know which one to drop?

Well, my friends. Apparently this can also happen when you think that your fate is traced, that all is decided that all you can do is just keep going. That “this is as good as it gets”, like Jack Nicholson says in the movie.

No, not for me. It may have been the dessert, it may have been the extra glass of wine, it may have been my husband looking at me with a question that had nothing to do with diapers or groceries, but I had an epiphany.

I need more me time.

No, scratch that. I want more me time. I want time to do the things that really make me happy, to focus on finding that balance for a better life. Like writing this blog, for instance. I am doing this for myself, simply because it helps me put order in my thoughts. And that’s what will reset the balance.

This space is like a secret journal for me really, except that I feel like I’m probably not the only one going down this route in this very moment, and I would love to hear from others that are on my same boat.

And you? How are you keeping your balance? Tell us your story and we will publish it on here! getintouch@thereallifeblog.com

Epiphanies and resolutions

The beauty of having epiphanies is all in the making resolutions afterwards. But it is never easy, because most of the time, resolutions translate into change and God knows how much human beings do not like change!

Epiphanies are funny, because they hit you all of a sudden and when you least expect them. It’s like when you have to make a decision. Should I go right or left? Should I eat this cookie or not? And then you turn, or eat the damn cookie, and all of a sudden BAM! The correct answer is crystal clear and right in front of you. Yes, you turned the right corner or, no, you shouldn’t have had that cookie.

A moment of bliss

What triggers that “click” in our minds that allows us to see things we hadn’t been able to see before? Why is it that obvious answers are sometimes so difficult to get to?

Well, I think that we’ve probably been looking for the answers to those obvious questions in the wrong places. Sometimes, we might have been asking the wrong questions all along, or maybe, we hadn’t even started questioning ourselves at all. But what’s good with epiphanies is that they come with resolutions. You cannot just have a revelation and then sit on it as if it never happened. Or probably you can, but then I am not sure you’d be happy. When having epiphanies you also have to make resolutions and this is for sure the hardest part.

A no-brainer

My latest epiphany consisted in realizing that the only one to blame for putting so much pressure on myself (as a woman, a mum, a wife, a friend and a worker) is actually me. A no-brainer, as a matter of fact, but somehow I always thought that I was doing a bunch of stuff “because it had to be done”. So what kind of resolutions could I make, in order to move on from this epiphany?

I’ve decided to stop running all the time, especially when it’s not even clear where I’m running to (or from). As my mum used to say, you shouldn’t jump off a bridge just because someone told you to – let alone if that someone is you and you’re not even sure why you should jump in the first place.

I decided that it was time to stop listening to that little voice in my head pushing me to always do more, reach higher, run faster. Mostly because my voice can’t answer two simple questions: why? And what for?

Refocus on the really important things in life

Not long ago, I was working really hard towards getting a promotion which, to my big surprise, I was refused. After the initial disappointment, though, I realized that what I regretted the most was focusing so many hours each day on what a thought was a priority (a step up in my career), to the detriment of my other aspects of my life, that I wasn’t looking at as important. Until then, I had felt that my family-related tasks were taking away focus from my “precious” work time, when in reality it should have been the other way around. And when that epiphany hit me, I took my refused promotion for what it really was: a great opportunity to re-prioritize. 

I have been blessed many times in my life already. I have two beautiful kids and I have found the love of my life. There is a roof over my head and a family to return back to. And friends, a lot of friends who care about me. But somehow, it’s like I had to go for what I did not have. Or perhaps worse – wanting it so badly made me overlook and underestimate what I should have cherished.

Looking back now, am not even sure I really wanted that job. I think I was just going with the flow. I was just doing what everyone else around me thought was the right thing to do, because aren’t we all pushed to want more and aim higher? Enough, right?

What if we were just happy with what we already have?

What if, instead on focusing on what we do not have, we started to focus on what we do have, and be more grateful? Or better: why not try to aim higher, but only as long as the focus of the quest is the right one – as an individual, a mom, a dad, a brother, a sister, a friend – or even to make it simpler – a human being?

Back to my epiphanies and resolutions now. I have decided to turn things around work-wise: they are not ready to promote me now? Fine, I will ask my employer to work 4 days a week and take it from there. I want more “me time”, but I don’t want this need to take away from other things that really matter. Like my kids, my husband and my friends.

So I’ve decided: my career will take a small step back for my life to jump forward.

And you? What is your epiphany? Tell us your story and we will publish it on here! getintouch@thereallifeblog.com