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My lockdown saga: not today PJ’s!

Today is day 2 of my lockdown saga, which started last Friday. I do not really count the past weekend as forced quarantine, given that usually we are so tired from hustling all week, that we don’t do much on weekends anyways. Better: we do nothing. We stay home, do laundry, watch tv, cook, sleep, maybe dance a bit, and drink wine.

So far, I have to say that this awful coronavirus has not changed our lives that much. If you have read my previous post, you know that I am a huge fan of the couch. Plus, we are lucky enough to have a little garden. So, when there is too much pressure, quarantine or not I can close the kids outside and only open the door to interact with them the moment I hear crying and smell blood. Which actually happened, just a couple of hours ago.

Back to my story

Yesterday, I decided some prep was necessary in order to keep the kids busy throughout this lockdown saga. And turns out, it’s working! They love the fact that we have a planning to follow with things to do (and mostly, things not to do, like disturbing mommy while she is at her laptop). But I realized I also needed a planning for myself too. And first thing I have put on there for this morning was dress up.

Dress for yourself

I have already written about dressing for yourself and not for others. I have always been a fan of choosing my clothes based on what makes me feel good. I truly believe that feeling comfortable in your looks gives you the confidence you need, to go out and kick asses. And now I realize that I need that same confidence for staying home and kick asses.

Therefore, this morning I decided I would dress up as if I needed to go out and attend a meeting. Shoes are not required here of course, but I am satisfied with feeling good from head to ankles. I definitely do not want to spend the next 45 days (because this is what we are looking at) in my PJ’s! I haven’t put any make up on today, maybe tomorrow. I still have 45 days to figure how I want to handle that. But I think I owe a minimum of décor to myself and my self-esteem.

An act of self-care

I feel like my lockdown saga could be way worst if I were not taking care of myself. In the end, prepping up and taking the time to wear those trousers that flatter you can only help you feel better. Unwrapping that new beautiful purple pull-over you offered yourself for your birthday but were waiting for a nice occasion to wear… Well, deciding that today was that day, really made me feel good about myself.

We all need little wins like this, to cheer ourselves up and feel better. In these challenging times, more than ever. I hope this will help you somehow. I don’t know, maybe tomorrow you will put this and other self-care stuff on your lockdown planning too. And if it will make you feel confident enough to forget what we are going through, even if just for a second, that would make me really happy.

On an additional note… Hubby will be at home with us too, starting tomorrow. Something tells me the next thing I will be writing about is relationship goals during lockdown. Stay tuned!

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!

A farewell to gluten

How you can stop eating what you love most in 5 (not easy) steps.

Step 1: accept the change

The first and most important thing to do in order to stop eating what you love most is to accept change. When change knocks at your door, most of the time it is unwanted and unexpected. Your animal instinct will immediately tell you to fight what is happening. And if you think of it, that’s the most logical reaction.

This is exactly what happened to me a couple of months ago, when the doctor told me I had to stop eating what I love most: gluten. Basically, anything that I love (pasta, pizza, pastries of any kind, bread, cakes, biscuits…). I am not sure you can understand how painful this revelation is for someone like me. I am Italian, for God’s sake! All my daily meals have featured white flour for 34 beautiful and unforgettable years.

Come on, is it even physically possible to live without gluten? And if so, is a gluten-free life worth living? I wanted to die at first. It took me a whole 2 weeks of gluten overdose during holidays in Italy, to realize that maybe my body knew more than I do. And that, maybe, a journey into the gluten-free world could not do me wrong in the end.

So here is what I’ve been learning: when change gets at you, the best thing you can do is just roll with it. Fighting the change will bring you nowhere, plus you will need all the energy you can spare to stay strong through the process. So suck it up babe! You got this.

Step 2: keep your eyes on the prize

Changing a life-long habit is never easy. It can help to think that when these things need to happen it is usually for something even better to happen next. Therefore, if you want to stop eating what you love most, you need to stay focused!

The key is to remind yourself that it is worth it. Think about the positive effects that this change will have on your body and your mind. Set reminders on your phone. Schedule some time during the day to circle back to your “why’s”. Think back at what awaits at the end of the journey. For me, it’s the promise of feeling better, less tired and galvanized.

At the beginning, I thought I could also aspire to lose some weight but you will find out this ain’t going to happen due to step 4. Of course, an intimidating, kick-ass doctor who keeps regular track of your diet can help too.

Step 3: celebrate the little wins

The road to change will be so very long. You have to praise yourself every single day for having controlled your basic instincts and for resisting to temptation!

Believe me: when you have lived and loved all sorts of bread since birth, you realize that even spending just one day away from a baguette is a huge accomplishment. Which, in my case, needs celebrating with a big nice glass of red wine. Again, you will see in step 4 how I am not going to lose any weight here.

I have tried so many different diets in my life. I’ve always found it easier to stick to the change after a small time of exaggeration. Like I said before, if you know you have to stop eating white flour, I suggest you start after a full week of cakes and pastries of any kind. That will make you so sick you will almost be even happy to start your new diet!

(Note to self: look at you, thinking you can trick your mind so easily. Good for you!).

Step 4: find an enjoyable alternative

There is always an alternative. Even if not the most suitable (like the big glass of red wine I just spoke about). But that doesn’t matter at this stage. When you are asked to remove something you love from your diet, the only way through is to find something that is somehow equally enjoyable.

Therefore, when you are told to stop eating white flour like me, sadly, you need to find something that will replace your afternoon cookies. I stuff myself with chocolate for instance. After all, no one said this new diet was supposed to make me lose weight.

This is your safe anchor, the one little thing that you will hang on to during difficult times, and the little treat that will keep you from falling into depression, so it has to be something that is enjoyable enough to keep you away from trouble and temptations.

Step 5: listen to your body

This is probably the most serious and eye-opening tip you can grab from this list. Believe me, your body knows better than you do. It does know what is good for you and if you take the time to listen to it, it will even tell you what is bad and has to be stopped.

When my body started not to function as expected anymore, I went to see a specialist. She told me that those little pains here and there were signals my body was throwing at me, to tell me that something was wrong and had to be changed.

Again, for someone who loves any kind of pizza (and when I say “any kind” that also includes “cheesy crust” from Pizza Hut, which normally sounds like an insult to most Italians) it takes a lot to digest an information like this. Your body does not tolerate the things you love the most. I almost fainted in front of the doctor.

At first, I thought my body did not love me at all, given it was basically sending me directly through a living hell. With time, and after spending a couple of weeks into step 1, I started to realize that actually my body did love me. And that is exactly the reason why it was telling me to stop gluten.

Now if you’ll excuse me: it’s breakfast time and I have a warm double chocolate croissant waiting in front of me (hey, nobody is perfect, and maybe I am still struggling with acceptance here…)


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.


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