March BookClub

people running on the beach

 

Hello world!

After two very successful bookclub sessions with lovely readers joining me from every corner of the world, and even the author of the book (!!!!) joining us with a vino Nicole Triliva , we are now ready for the new book of this month.

Since I’ve recently started running again after 10 years and I’m loving it, this month and thanks to the Twitter pool last week, we are going to read Born To Run by Christopher McDougall (click the link to buy your copy).   This is a book that has been on my list for months (maybe even years) and that I can’t wait to start.

Born To RunHave you read it? What do you think? Do you run? Did it inspire you to run?

We are e-meeting again at the end of the month on google hangout for a chat, a laugh and a vino/coffee. See you soon!

PS: Do you love a book and think the world should know about it? Leave the title below and we will consider it for April!

Happy reading,

xxx
Yours truly,
Bookworm

 

January Book Club: Big Magic

what is creativity

I’m an old-fashioned bookworm, the kind that smells books before buying them, the type that touches the pages as they were some precious, ancient manuscripts. I love physical books, but one “habit” and guilty pleasure (and probably the hardest), I had to give up for my year of wanderlust and travels, was to stop buying them. I struggled -lots, failed – twice, but I also didn’t want to carry kilos of stories in my backpack. The solution was to bring my trustworthy, old kindle with me and fill it with all my favourite classics and all the new releases I could get my hands on. I have to admit that I can’t read only one book at the time, but isn’t that also part of the fun? 🙂
So, in January I was reading a blogging manual, The Corrections by Jonathan Frenzen, 30 days in Sydney by Peter Carey and of course, 
Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert.

The world-acclaimed author of “Eat, Love and Pray” is back again with something different this time. A manual to creativity generated as a written form of her famous TED Talk, she also called a self-help book written with the voice and the tone of a friend who has been there, done it all.

I guess that if you are reading this, you’ve probably read it too or are going to.
If you haven’t read it yet, maybe you should stop here and come back when you’ve done so to avoid spoilers; if you have finished and put it down already then we are finally ready to kick off the first edition of this digital, long-distance book club (please subscribe now on the event on my Facebook page and send me a message with your email address so I can add you to the hangout).

WELCOME!

A couple of Side Notes

  1. As you know, this is my first time that I not only attend a book club, but also the first time I run one (yeah, I’m crazy I know!), so bear with me while I learn the tricks and forgive me if it isn’t perfect…Any tips & tricks, help and suggestions are always welcome 🙂
  2. During our Google hangout session, we will be focusing on the following topics & questions, the virtual seats are limited to ten and you can check here and if you confirm your attendance you will need to send me your email address so that I can add you to the event. If you miss out the event, don’t fret, you can obviously read through and leave your views below. I’m really curious to read your take on the book.

Creativity

Gilbert describes creativity as something external that comes in the artists’  and writers’ world almost by accident. She believes that an idea is something that has it own life and floats around until it finds someone suitable and ready to pick it up and bring it to life. I was quite put off by this idea, to be honest and I wasn’t sure I was going to go through with this book at the beginning.

I’m a bit skeptical about her philosophy, but some of the examples she described are quite amazing . I’ve always believed that talent and creativity were “embedded” in certain people from the moment of their birth. And you? What do you think?

  • Are you creative?
  • Were you one of those talented kids?
  • What do you create and what’s your creative process?

Courage VS Fear

You might have already read what I wrote about fear and how she was in fact the one who got me out of my comfort zone and easy life in the UK. I was scared to be missing out, that I would never be truly happy despite all my successes and accomplishments on the corporate ladder, frightened I would postpone my own dream to travel to prioritise the common rat race to a shining CV and spotless career. But then death met with my fear, they shook hands and lift me up to where I am now.

So yes, I agree with Gilbert distinction between good and bad fears, or more carefully the ones that kick your ass and the one that make you dig your head (and your ass) underneath the duvet when you could be out creating. You want the firsts, you want to kill the seconds.

Have I killed all my fears?

No way!  I’m still a little terrified person. I’m worried that my new lifestyle will just drain my savings and I will be forced to go back to the real world. I’m truly shitting my pants at the thought that I will never find anybody to hire me again if I had to go back to the real world. I’m freaking out sometimes that I have no talent at all and this is just a happy illusion. And possibly, I am even more terrified that all of this might actually work and I might actually make it.

As Gilbert said, “We have to be careful of how we handle our fear – because I’ve noticed that when people try to kill off their fear, they often end up inadvertently murdering their creativity in the process”. I tried to kill mine for over half of my life. I though I had murdered by creativity too, but in the exact moment I set off on this trip, she was back, right next to me, asking me to play with her. She and I are on the road together and we are like Thelma & Louise kinda thing. She tells me the route, I drive. Has fear ever affected your life? And your creativity?

  • Have you managed to kill a fear that was bothering you? How?
  • Was there any passion, dream, idea you had when you were younger that you put away because you were scared of the outcome?
  • Do you consider yourself a brave heart or a scared self?

As long as you live under the fear of failure or disappointment or any other thing that holds you back in “the realm of creative expression”, you may never discover the thing that gives you life

Enchantment: Inspiration & Ideas

As mentioned above,  I personally don’t believe in Gilbert’s mystical view of ideas floating through space and time patiently waiting to find their soulmate. Of course there are occasions when two people have the same idea and she even bring one exceptional personal example, but I’m still skeptical and I prefer to think that ideas are unique to the individual and they are born into people’s mind rather than animated things that fly around and are grabbed randomly by the first available person. Maybe I’m silly, but I work hard for ideas to come to me. Which doesn’t mean I sit outside waiting for them to appear in front of my eyes, but I read, I look, I study, I engage with people, I discover, I experiment, this is what pushes me to create and this how pieces of life take the shape of ideas in my mind. Do I need to be inspired? Yes. Do I set time aside to create? Yes, at the moment is almost 24/7. And you?

  • Do you believe ideas are there free for all to grab?
  • Can you work without inpiration?
  • Are you disciplined enough to actually get stuff done also on those gloomy not inspired days?
  • What do you feel when you are hit by an amazing idea?

Look back far enough and you will find people who were not sitting around passively waiting for stuff to happen to them. You will find people who spent their lives making things

Screen Shot 2016-02-03 at 23.12.50.png

Permission

I personally agree with the author and I don’t think you need an educational permission to be an artist. In fact, I will go even further than that: you don’t need education to be successful in anything. Take the majority of the truly amazingly successful people in the world and they did no go to school or finish their education. I’m taking about Richard Branson, Steve Jobs, Sean Connery, Abraham Lincoln, Bill Gates, Henry Ford and Allan Sugar.Of course, I am not suggesting that you shouldn’t study, I am saying that it is not a mandatory thing for a successful life. Sometimes drive and passion is all you need…but this is a whole new subject/post that I want to discuss in the future.

The same (and probably more relevant) is in the art world. I’ve witness so many people wasting dreams because they couldn’t afford a formal education in fine art, design or photography. On the other hand, I’ve met countless people who thought that because they did have an art degree, a design or photography certificate were entitled to create and were expecting to be successful.
Boy, let me tell you, it does not work that way. As Gilbert said, these courses can help you to feel more confident, but don’t expect the right to lead an artistic life because you studied art.

  • Do you have faith in your capabilities or are you waiting for someone to tell you are good enough?
  • Do you think a formal education is what you need to be an artist?
  • If you could go back would you attend the same university? If you didn’t attend one which course would you choose?

But never delude yourself into believing that you require someone else’s blessing (or even their comprehension) in order to make your own creative work. And always remember that people’s judgment about you are none of your business

Persistence

I stopped writing for months. Not that’s not true, actually, I never stop writing. Probably not one entire day in my life. But I did stop publishing on my old blog and I almost this the same on this one too. I had readers, engaged comments, consistent views, statistics where sky-rocketing and then, WHY?
Well, my blog wasn’t perfect. It isn’t perfect now either. In fact I hate the design of it (oh yeah, if you know a great designer who would help me for a service barter please, let me know 🙂 ), but I decided to just do it which is pretty much the same thing that Elizabeth Gilbert suggests. Forget about the fact that you can’t reach perfection, stop thinking you need an entire day for your painting, abandon the idea that you could only be a writer/musician/singer/actor when you will be able to dedicate yourself to it full time. This is just a sophisticated way of procrastination. Start today, start now, do something. Don’t let perfection or fear stop your creative process. Just embrace it.

I love reading about Elizabeth’s various waitressing jobs and it felt she was really talking to me as I spent 8 years going exactly the same. I no longer felt a loser afterall, I’m not feeling a loser now that I’m looking for a similar part-time job while my business kicks off. I no longer care about other people’s judgment because I’m finally doing what I love the most, and I stand taller than anybody who hasn’t done it yet.

But do it without expectations. Don’t ask your art/idea/creativity to support you, do it just because you love it, and act as a parent who loves his child without expecting anything in return. Flourish and nourish this relationship every day and take the process of making something as your biggest reward.

Babu Huts

  • Do you expect or wish that you art will support you financially or are you just doing it for you self?
  • Are you able to create or are you waiting for the right moment?

I would never ask writing to take care of me financially, but that I would always take care of it

Trust: Success VS Failures

I would be an hypocrite if I said I’m doing what I’m doing just because I love it. Well, no one really is. I left my job in London to travel, photograph and write stories. That is the main goal, but of course I’m hoping that these three passions of mine will one day combine into a Magic Formula that will also allow me to have a decent life. Of course I’m hoping to meet Success on my path this year and go on a date with him and possibly marry him and never think again about my corporate life. Yes, I’ll admit, I dream of a life doing what I’m doing now and I’m not ashamed of admitting it.
But I am also very realistic about the possibilities, risks, competitions and I wouldn’t take a no as a failure, I won’t take a refusal as a reason to give up or a closed door as the end of my journey.

  • Do you let failure affect your creativity?
  • Do you do it for fame, money, success or what?
  • How do you deal with failures?

And one of the questions  I loved the most from the book:

  • What do you love doing so much that the word failure and success essentially become irrelevant?

Whatever you do, try not to dwell too long on your failures. You don’t need to conduct autopsies on your disasters. You don’t need to know what anything means

Screen Shot 2016-02-03 at 23.34.39.pngSo, what is your final vote of Big Magic? How did you feel after finishing?

Personally, my creativity flow and my soul were refreshed and energised. I loved the stories she shared, but I especially loved the fact that she put her life and heart out there among the lines. I felt as she was in the room with me and she was laughing about her failures and sharing with a light hearted voice her incredible success. Her tone makes me want to hug her and wish for a friend like her to drink a glass of wine together and somebody who never takes her/himself too seriously, somebody who can laugh at himself and at the same time talk about success without bragging about it.

Big Magic inspired me to create more, to believe in myself and my current projects more. As a result, once I finished reading it, I shot several pitching emails that were sitting on my draft folder for weeks, I’ve wrote a whole three new chapters of what might take the shape of a book, I’ve pushed my photographic limits with new techniques and style I hadn’t tried before (coming up soon…), I basically took whatever was in the air and I created.

And I never felt this good.
Thank you, big magic.

“Do whatever brings you to life, then. Follow your own fascinations, obsessions, and compulsions. Trust them. Create whatever causes a revolution in your heart. The rest will take care of itself.”

 

We will be back next month with our February book. Perfect for my current nomad lifestyle and I believe ideal also for many of you with the same passion for travel.

Girls Who Travel by Nicole Trilivas

Same date as before, see you here vino in hand, notes in the other and let’s chat about us, girls who travel 

Happy reading and happy travelling, my lovely tribe!

Meaningful Time

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Since I got rid of my television almost three years ago, I realised how much time I was wasting in front of it. I no longer needed one and I watch movies or series I’m interested in on my mac. It’s a liberating experience.
When I tell people I don’t have a TV, they look at me with a worried or horrified look, and I always have to explain that I made the conscious decision no to have one. That I do no need nor want one.

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My days are more meaningful: my daily or social schedule never depends on TV shows or series, I’m not bombarded by TV adverts all day long, I can read a book or a magazine with my breakfast, and I love falling a sleep with my book in my hands like I used to do when I was little.

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My time is so important and so little that I make sure it’s spent in the best way possible. Always. It’s again all about #livemoredomorebemore, but this time is mainly about #livebetter. It’s about the quality again. It’s about making choices that will impact your life positively. Doing things you like instead of what’s easier. Sometimes, in fact, it’s about making an effort.
Before switching the telly on tonight, ask yourself: when was last time I asked my wife/husband/partner how was their days? Or your children: when was the last time you played with them? What if for once you played cards instead of sitting on the sofa to watch telly with them? What about if you just chatted with them with no phones. No tablets no TV to divide you?

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Sometimes we need to make an effort to be happier.

Sometimes, it’s just about closing all the noise outside and finding the silence within us.
Sometimes is:

 

to wander from the proper path, to deviate from the direct course, to be lost, to become wild, to be without a mother or father, to be without a home, to move about aimlessly in search of something, to diverge or digress. – Cheryl Strayed~Wild 

Do you own a television? How do you spend your quality time?

Have a remarkable day.

Be happy

#LiveMoreDoMoreBeMore

 

F**K It!

fuck it

When I first saw the book “F**k It Therapy: The Profane Way to Profound Happiness” at my local bookshop I thought it was the usual “help-yourself-useless-s**t-type-of-book, but then after a few months, a friend who read it said it was great and hilarious and I also decided to give it a go.

The book is written by John C. Parkin who had a “top job in London” before saying “F**t it!” and moving to Italy with Gaia Pollini, his wife, who also participated in the book with her “magic”. They now run the “F**k it Retreats” in some amazing location like the volcano of Stromboli and the beautiful Tuscan landscapes in Italy.

With the help of this book, you will learn to SEE your prison first: understanding that we are prisoners is the most important thing if we really want to set ourselves free. The prisons we all are can be of different shapes and sizes, but most of us have some barriers to escape from.
Work, family, relationships, responsibilities, duties, debts, ambitions, dreams: these are some of the prisons we inherited or created for ourselves. In order to find the key to open the damn door, we need to see that we are prisoners. Stop and start thinking what makes you feel suffocated sometimes; is that the last credit card bill? Or a comfort relationship you dragged on for years? Or is the mortgage that forces you to stay in a job you hate?  Your marriage perhaps?

When you find out what it is that makes you want to scream then you are half why through. No. Only joking. You are not, but now you can act. You can (re)act and say:

F**k it!

Once you have mapped out the walls of your prison (your anxieties, lack of imagination, fear, self-doubt and all those things that keep you Inside/Stuck you can then “break through the walls”. There are several walls that you need to smash before you can stare the blue sky of freedom again. You need to walk yourself through every and each of the reasons that put you inside and kept you there for so long.

You must be asking: “Yeah, it sounds nice, but how?!?” This is what I was asking too, go to Part 5 to find out “How”.

Once you have forced those walls to fall and you believe you are actually free, then you can start mastering some enhancing tools and exercises to reach the

F** It State of Mind

At the end of the book, John and Gaia give you some interesting tips to stay and live in the Fuck it State in the real life (aka when you finish the book and wonder how to actually change your life).

I found John Parkin’s style extremely amusing, the book is filled with funny cartoons and jokes. He also shares some feedback of people who either read the book or spent time in one of their retreats. It’s an interesting little book that combines practical exercises with some Asian philosophy and basic of relaxation.

This is not a book that tells you to give up your job or divorce your wife/husband. This is a book that will help you to go through life with a better, positive and relaxed attitude. You will be in the f**k it state and therefore life will be easier and more pleasant. You will see things from a different perspective and under a different light.  Possibly you will feel lighter and maybe even happier.
At the end of the day, it’s not necessarily about changing your life, but it’s all about changing your attitude.

 

Change what you can change and let go of what you can’t change.

 

 JUST F**K IT. 

 

Disclaimer: I am not related in any way to the author, if you do buy the book via the link above, I will get a small commission from Amazon which will help me to maintain this blog. Thanks & Share the Love. 

The French Encounter

When I was a kid I did lots of sports. Actually I was addicted to it. I was training a lot and applying to every single school’s teams, no matter the discipline: volleyball, athletic, basketball, long / high jumps… I just had lots of energy and loved to run around and see what my body could achieve with training.  Pushing my limits. Destroying them. It’s because of this obsession that I was quite good of gymnastic rhythmic, and thank to 8 years of splits, front and back walkovers, split leaps etc.. that now I’m one of the most flexible yogy at my class in Primrose Hill.  I also played with the  boys’ basketball team, careless that it wasn’t really a girly, classy sport or that my mates were quite smelly and very interested in my growing chest. Later, I wanted to try volleyball,  but I was so short that the rest of the team never let me stay in the first line, therefore I was running like a mad on the back of the field to catch impossible balls… I never had a chance to put in practice all the lessons learnt from Mila on Attacker You! (Mila & Shiro for my Italian friends)!
And then aerobic, athletic, badminton, horse riding, running, and whatever else you can think of… I tried most of them.

However, at the age of 17 I thought I had enough of sport in general as all my friends weren’t into it at all. They thought sport wasn’t cool. It was the time when everybody had a motorbike and we were spending Sunday afternoons in kids’ clubs getting drunk and competing with my girlfriends on the number of guys we managed to snog in a few hours. We even had a diary with an endless list of boys of which I don’t even remember faces, names or traits. So.. during my tentative to become “cool” and like the others (i.e. teenager peer pressure), I gave up all my sporty habits and got a new one, “really cool” at the time:

smoking.

In the last 10 years, two things have constantly increased: the number of cigarettes per day and the number on my scale in the morning. At the beginning of this year I actually managed to quit smoking and after 10 years of addiction, I felt like a prisoner released after he was wrongly condemned to death penalty. Surprisingly, my weight didn’t increased at all.

But then, in May, during my solo-exploring to Indonesia, I met a quite frank vagabond who in all honesty told me I was slightly overweight. We were sipping a cocktail in front of the stunning Asian ocean on one of the beautiful Gili beaches just off Lombok. I then turned my view down to my belly, my thighs and my arms. I thought: who’s this body? whom does it belong to? This isn’t mine. All of a sudden, after 10 years, I came to the shocking truth that myself was living under a blanket of fat I had accumulated with too many spritz, beers and sigarettes. So while we were there, with the stunning view, the waves and the blue sky I linked to amazon with my iPhone to order a new book.
Few days later, back in London in the office, still in a deep holiday-blues, he has arrived. He was there. In the Amazon carton box.

Monsieur Dukan

This skinny, little French man has definitely changed my life. Well…maybe that’s too much. But he has changed my weight for sure. Since the start of my meat-based diet I’ve lost 7kg (over a stone) and, most of all, I’m feeling good! Really good!

I’ve been eating tasteless galettes in the morning for weeks now, tons of tuna, salmon, prawns, chicken breasts, chicken wings, turkey, meatballs and I’m feeling good. I’ve been avoiding pasta, pizza, bread…all carbs in every form and I haven’t even been looking to cakes or croissants for months. But I’m feeling good. Isn’t that incredible? I mean, I remind you here for a second that I’m Italian and Italians BASE their diet on carbs. They CAN’T live one day without carbs. I think Monsieur Dukan should be in the list for beatification. I think he’s a genius.

Obviously for every good thing, there are also some negative effects. Let’s point out here a short list.

 

  • my friends hate me. Most of all when we go out for dinner and spend half an hour checking in the menu outside if the cuisine offers stuff allowed by my diet guru
  • my friends also hate me because it takes me hours to pick something from the menus
  • most of all they hate me because I’m not drinking any more and I’ve become a boring, healthy person 🙂
  • when you only eat proteins, your energy level is extraordinary, it’s like to be on some sort of heavy drug. this can be a good thing because suddenly your days becomes longer and you can fill them with all the stuff you want to do, but on the other hand, you might have too much energy. Some time ago I had a row with somebody in the office. I almost ate the person alive. My boss told me I should start eat normally.
  • if you are only eating animal-related food, you are always thirsty. Your mouth will just keep drying up constantly and as a consequence, you will keep drinking thinking that at some point you’ll feel satisfied. You won’t. Your friends will also hate you and tease you because you will need the loo every two steps. Yes, exactly like your grandma.
  • you will start thinking that Diet Coke is delicious and a life-saver. It isn’t. At all.
  • after all, I’m pretty happy and lighter. I have to say that this was the first ever diet  my body faced and actually it wasn’t that hard… well excluding my friends’ insults!

Now I feel better, in my new body, I’m not longer carrying  my blanket of fat around. I feel new and refreshed. I also feel sexy and attractive, well let me say it: I’m HOT now.  I feel like I felt 10 years ago. I finally feel confident to wear that skirt or that sexy top. I also feel  good in that tight black dress I bought and never wore.
People have re-started to stare at me, to give the look, to ask me out. People are interested in me. I’m interested in people again. I feel good and I am happy. Maybe they never stopped looking at me? Maybe they were still interested in me also under the blanket? In fact, to be completely honest, I never lacked lovers or boyfriends in these years, not for more than a few weeks, anyway. But the truth is that now I like myself. Actually I love myself.

I love myself very much.

So I really have to say it….Merci beaucoup Monsieur Dukan!

Oh.. by the way, 7 kg later I am smoker again. I’ve quit carbs, I went back to tobacco. I’m not a superhero.

Not just yet.