My Minimalist Escape – How Minimalism helped my life

 
We were never meant to live life accumulating stuff.
We were meant to live simply, enjoying the experience of life, the people of life and the journey of life – not the things of life

This is what Joshua Becker wrote in his bestseller “Simplify” and as a newly minimalism disciple I couldn’t agree more. Whether you are an avid follower of  @MarieKondo or never heard of her obsession with tidiness, you must have heard of the new “less is more” thinking trend which I already mentioned here and here.

Back in 2013 when I started looking critically at all the stuff in my wardrobe, I was still in my full-time corporate job in London. Appearance back then was crucial and I really struggled to make the first steps into a less-cluttered life. However, with the purpose to have a bigger budget to travel with, I started selling my designers’ shoes, bags and clothes on eBay, putting everything I got from the sales into my “To Travel Is To Live” Saving Account. Things got much harder when I started decluttering my sentimental and personal boxes filled with letters, books, pictures, postcards and other notes. It was much easier for me to get rid of my material stuff without a blink of the eye, but throwing away drawings of my nephew and old letters felt distasteful and rude. So…I didn’t.

I decided that there is a limit to the things I feel good without and there are less-expensive but more valuable things that I will never throw in a bin. I had to accept my personal limits. You have to find and accept yours.

Hotel Hotel

Two year ago, I stored all my remaining belongings at a friends house, (Thanks, Duncan!) and left with a 12kg backpack on my shoulders and a 5kg camera bag as a carry-on. Fast forward to a few months later and I had collected shells, books, clothes, souvenirs from all over India and Australia, which weighed me down enormously. So, once again I was faced with the tough process of letting go. But of what?

One day back in my hostel in Darwin, I pulled out all my belongings which I guess were well above 30kg by then and distributed them all over the floor. I started a rough Project333 with all the clothes I owned, realising soon that some things I bought in India were not suitable for the rest of my journey in Australia; several books (which I already read) were taking most of my bag’s space; and two pairs of shoes were so destroyed and disgusting after hundreds of miles that it was a huge relief to see them in the rubbish. I made a bag of clothes to leave in the free for all basket of the hostel, left most of my books on the exchange shelf and picked only one promising myself -once again!!!- to switch to my Kindle permanently. Since that episode, I decided to keep the number of things I own and travel with down to the same number. If I acquire a new item, I will force myself to get rid of something that’s already in my bag. This is my new rule and has been working for the past four months.

But there are many things I would do differently if I could start this trip all over again, that’s why I’m sharing the following tips to start your transition into a minimalist life b e f o r e setting off for a long trip or a relocation abroad.

DON’T PACK. JUST GO. 

I am not a pro at this minimalism game, I still struggle to let go of things while I try to accumulate/buy less, but I’ve learnt that living and travelling with less is much easier and cheaper (just think of the price of extra luggage every time you catch a plane!). First and foremost, forget all the packing tips you find online, I would just recommend you to leave home with a fraction of what you think you will need, not half as some suggest, but a 10th. It will be too impossible to resist the temptation of buying new clothes and various souvenirs  especially if you are travelling to cheap countries, so be smart and leave plenty of room in your bag right from the start, and don’t fret you will reunite with your favourite t-shirt or jumper upon your return, I promise!

SELL IT OR GIVE IT TO A CHARITY 

It’s hard to get rid of things you paid and it’s even harder to get back the money you spent on it, but my philosophy is that it’s better to have $50 rather than a $100 jacket I never use. Start slowly with a winter clear out, go through all the things you own and make groups: old-but-I-love, never-used-once, too-small/too-big, emotional-value and start getting rid of all the things you know you don’t need. Put them on eBay or Gumtree or even get down to your local market or charity shop. I got so used of using the same 5/6 outfits I own, that I love having a restricted choice to make every morning a bit like Mark Zuckerberg’s grey t-shirt and jeans work uniform.

…But Keep What Makes You Happy

As I struggled to get rid of books and things of emotional value, I’ve decided that I don’t have to get rid of everything, I can and must keep the things that bring happy memories to me, photos and letters that belong to a distant past perhaps but that still make me happy today. Some minimalism fundamentalists would shout at me for writing this, but I don’t believe in owning a set amount of items is the key to happiness, I believe in owning only things that add value to your life and this is even truer while travelling.

You can’t change the people around you, but you can change the people around you.
Joshua Fields Millburn, Everything That Remains

DO YOU REALLY NEED IT?

Before buying anything new ask yourself: do I really need it? This is something I ask myself every time I’m in a shop and I’m tempted to spend a few bucks on something. Most of the time, the answer is “Nope, I don’t” and leave the shop empty-handed but proud of myself. Something that I started practising back in London, it’s now a useful habit I cling to while browsing stores in Port Douglas, Perth, Sydney and Melbourne. Here, the things I need are very few and often are just things I need to replace because they finish (toiletries, food…) or they have worn out. So, once you learn to make a distinction between what you want and what you need, you will soon realise that your life is already pretty complete and you will start saving heaps of money on useless stuff. If on your travel you see presents and things you love for your family and friends, my top tip is to pack it and mail it immediately. Don’t make the mistake to drag it with you across a country as I did, the gift will get ruined and your money will be wasted.

Clutter is a manifestation of a) holding onto the past and b) fear of what might happen in the future.
Leo Babauta, Clutterfree

BUY EXPERIENCES, NOT STUFF 

More importantly, I am a big advocate of experiences VS things. In a world where we are all submerged in stuff, unique experiences can really stand out. I remember the face of my parents when I bought them a cruise ticket for their 40th anniversary. They expected the usual material thing, but once they came back they told me it was the best experience of their life. I also bought swimming courses, amusement park tickets and dance classes to my nephews and friends. These are things that you can keep in your house, but the memories you make are going to stay with you for a very long time. What’s more important those happy moments?

The best things in life aren’t things.
Joshua Becker

DIGITAL DECLUTTERING

But minimalism is not just about material things, it’s also about our busy digital lives. Since I’ve been away, I’ve unsubscribed from most of the newsletters I once found interesting but actually never read, I consciously cleaned my Facebook wall and Instagram feed by all the negative people, cat-lovers, depressive attitudes to have my rare moments of connectivity only filled with joy, happy moments and real friends instead. And having a limited or no internet connection I quickly developed a very harsh filtering system for what emails I want to read or reply to. Similarly, I found it surprisingly easy and calming to ignore a lot of social media updates and stuff, even though that’s the industry I work in, and I’ve been amazed by the positive effects this change has had on my creativity and how much time I now have to spend on my writing, photography or simply enjoying my occasional free time instead.  The idea is that your real life is more important of your social media persona, and you should rather spend time living life rather than sharing it online.

packing

Do something incredible. Don’t tweet about it.
Colin Wright

And while it’s easier to travel with a minimalist mindset, it’s also true that travelling helps you become a better minimalist. After all this time away, I’m dreading the moment I will have to go through all the stuff I left behind and I already know that I should have binned most of it before leaving. And travelling with less is less stressful. I’m no longer scared of losing things behind (well except my camera gear, laptop, hard drive and passport) but I learnt that all other things are simply replaceable.

 BECOME A BETTER MINIMALIST WITH THESE PROS: 

BOOKS: 

  • Everything that remains, The Minimalists
  • Simplify, Joshua Becker
  • The Joy of Less, A Minimalist Living Guide: How to Declutter, Organize, and Simplify Your Life, Francine Jay
  • The Power Of Less: The Fine Art of Limiting Yourself to the Essential, Leo Babauta
  • My Exile Lifestyle, Colin Wright

The moral of the story: we don’t really need that much stuff both at the home and especially while travelling. You may have been forced into thinking that you need that brand new car, that you need to upgrade your phone. The truth is that you don’t. I’ve learnt to spend the money that I would have otherwise spent on buying new clothes and stuff on experiencing life and seeing the world. I couldn’t recommend you enough to do the same.

Love people, use things. The opposite never works.
The Minimalists

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Thank you, Miss Fear

storyteller in India

FEAR is the answer you were waiting for.

To the ones who asked me W H Y I left my very good and well-paid job in London, to the dozens of emails I receive weekly asking how, and to the many messages and comments seeking advice on how to follow your desire to travel the world.

Yes, in November 2014 Miss Fear paid me a visit and pushed me out of my comfort zone and “easy” life in the UK.

I had always been a golden child, pushed by competition and a hunger for achievement. I had to win. Always. Very often people looking at my life would tell me “You’ve nailed it”. At the age of 26, I had nailed it. Totally. And more so by 28, 29. Achieving and smashing goals was my favourite sport in my twenties. I was so focused on it that I completely forgot to stop and think if I was playing a game I was interested in, or not.

The truth is that at 30 I no longer wanted to play that game I was so good at.

And then fear came to visit me. 

Fear to miss out, fear I would never be truly happy despite all my professional success and accomplishments on the corporate ladder, fear I would postpone my own dream to travel to prioritise the common goal of a shining CV and spotless career.
The fear I would never see the world with my own eyes, photograph it or writing about it.
Fear my travel around Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and Samoa would stay in the dream drawer forever.
Fear that I might die before I could see all the things I wanted to see, do, experience or be.
The fear I would never touch the Taj Mahal, speak a few words of Hindi and fear I couldn’t ever surf in Australia, fear I would never ride a camel. The fear I couldn’t see a kangaroo or hug a koala or watch the stars in the middle of the desert.
The fear I would never become a digital nomad or discover the secrets of Myanmar.
The fear I would miss my one chance to be happy. This might sound all a bit dramatic, because it is, in fact. When somebody close to you dies, that fear you have dominated, forgotten or avoided for so long, comes out of nowhere and starts eating you alive. This is what happened in 2015 and this is what got me on the road a few months later.

– Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear. 
James Neil Hollingsworth.

Get out
Eat the world
Love unconditionally
Learn a new language
Dance with strangers
Close your map
Get lost
Breath
Inspire and be inspired
Switch your phone off
Laugh
Cry
Explore
Be alive

F E E L 

Fear is not the problem. 
What you do with it is. 

 

Happiness is doing what you love.

Now… There are some days that start in a special way and then, end even better.

Today was one of them.

I woke up to the amazing surprise of having gained my 1000th IG follower overnight.. Considering that’s my main window for photos right now, it was a big achievement for me.

A few hours later, on the same platform, an old photo of mine was featured by a global account.

And this evening I spent 2 and half hours learning from, and chatting to a major British photographer.

Now, these are the days that make me truly HAPPY and grateful. And proud. Proud to take it as it is. To let my passion finally sink into my veins and travel into my blood every day. Proud to feel a stupid dreamer.
Proud to don’t care about what others think. Proud to dream.
Whatever happens next…

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And then..

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And then there is me.

Me.

Myself.

And I.

It’s just over a week, since my ex left this house, this town, this country and me to start a “new life”, back home.

I spent the first few days, unable to drag myself out of bed, crying at every single memory of us within these walls, sobbing like a child in our sheets which still smelt of us, getting angry at life and the world while walking in the streets of this town which once I loved,  keeping my phone off for days to avoid distraction from my own desperation.

But now?

Now, I AM BACK.

I read aloud to myself all my notes of the last 18 months and I found out something so important and enlightening that gave me the strength to get hold of my life once again.

I wasn’t happy.
I was lonely.
I was alone when I most needed you, when my career was falling apart.
You destroyed my trust with revelatory emails. Once. No, at least twice.
“Two more minutes” with me on new year’s eve didn’t matter to you.
You didn’t even bother to wish me happy birthday after I took you to a royal suite in Marrakesh to celebrate.
You broke the promises you made about this house, which YOU choose and wanted so badly.

I decided that this is not what I want for myself.

I want and DESERVE so much more than YOU.

And I am finally

free

and I’m feeling

so good.

12 Ultimate Ways To Improve Your Lifestyle – Just WFH

All right reserved
© All right reserved – The Confused Storyteller

Seven weeks ago I started my new job. As you probably know from my previous post, I wasn’t so excited or thrilled by it. The company is amazing, one of the best in the world possibly, but the job itself wasn’t (isn’t) the right one for me.
But, I’ve promised myself to always look at the bright side, so also in this situation, I decided to take the positive thing and smile. In this case, the best part is WFH.
Working From Home is the way forward. Read below why.

1 – I sleep A LOT more

Usually I set the alarm at 8.15am, it used to be two hours earlier before, around 6.30/7am. I’m a late-night person – I can’t fall asleep before midnight or 1am and I have had troubles sleeping for a long time now. You obviously understand how these 2 extra hours I get every morning have improved my life. And my mood.

2 – I ALWAYS have breakfast

For the same reason above, I now have time to make myself a cup of tea or a coffee accompanied by a freshly toasted slice of bread with butter and jam. It’s delicious and it’s a sweet way to start the day.

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© All right reserved – The Confused Storyteller

3 – I’m an informed person

Now I get to read the news EVERYDAY. While sipping my cuppa, I scan the web and international newspapers for about 15 minutes. I check Facebook and my personal emails too and I feel under control. And informed.

4 – I’m always at the “office” on time.

Despite the fact I wake up at 8.15, I’m logged in and ready to start at 8.30am sharp. I’m never late. I never get stuck on the tube or the bus. It can be raining cats and dogs and I will still be on time.  Magic.

5 – I EAT better

I  plan my days in a way that allows me to have long, relaxed lunches. There is no way I stay in front of my computer eating crap or book myself into meetings at that time of the day (as I was used to do in my previous job). By 12.30/1pm I log off, go to the kitchen and try new recipes or cook some healthy food I’ve bought. Otherwise, if the weather is nice, I go for a walk in the neighbourhood and grab something from the local market. It’s surely something better than the crap food of the cantine in my office or any take-away chains.

6 – I have time to do my daily chores and more

Most of the time, when I take a break, I do my laundry or pass the vacuum cleaner. I ACTUALLY take a break from my laptop and phone and switch off my brain for a bit, which feels A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. Sometimes, I just make myself another espresso and walk outside in the courtyard to enjoy a bit of fresh breeze on my skin. Sometimes, I just have a sneaky look at Facebook updates or play a Ruzzle match or text a friend.

7 – NO bitching or office politics

I’ve been in my new job for 5 weeks now (yeah, it already feels 5 months), and I’ve met very few people in person, lots via phone or email and these two means of communication don’t allow bitching or talking behind the back. At least for now. It’s SO refreshing.

8 – Money: SAVING – LOTS – OF – MONEY

If I was to go to the office every day I would spend £170 per month in train ticket. Add to that, lunches and snacks I would need when I didn’t had time to cook  and pack something.

9 – I can always be around for deliveries or the post man

I remember the old days when I had to take half day off when the plumber, painter or my mattress had to arrive. Now, I don’t have to worry. For example now, I’m happily waiting for my DcMarten’s to fall on my laps.

10 – I don’t feel stressed

It could be that this job is bread & butter for me, so it’s just because I got it easy, or it could be that the environment (my home) makes me feel much more comfortable AND focused. I get the stuff done without wasting time in useless conversation or how-are-you-btw-I-don’t-care chats in the office kitchen. Whatever is the reason, so far, I’m not feeling under pressure. I’m not feeling behind the task or struggling. Loving an easy life.

11 – NO WASTE of TIME

Can you imagine a life where you don’t commute? In my case it would be a total of 3 hrs per day, round-trip. THREE vital hours spent in a crowded tube, then in a crowded train and  to finish off a long walk. This is one of the best part of my new lifestyle, I can’t stop saying how relieved I feel of gaining all this time EVERY DAY. It makes a huge difference. I wake up feeling relaxed, never in a rush, never worried to be late. I can make plans for the evening without feeling exhausted by the journey or afraid to be late. I get to go to my French lessons without worrying a bit about my train being late.
My work didn’t get disrupted by the strike. I wasn’t affected by it at all. It’s life-changing, I’m telling you.

12 – I feel comfortable at all times

© All right reserved – The Confused Storyteller

Forget make-up and high heels. I used to dress up to go to work before, I used to work in a very formal place where I had to use  grown-up, fashionable, expensive clothes all week long. My wardrobe is still full of that stuff.

I’ve book a charity collection.

That’s my old self. My new self now runs all interviews via phone and nobody can actually SEE me. Most of the time, I wear a track suit and my face feels fresh and clean all day, free from make-up. My hair is often messy, but who cares?
It’s what I say that matter, not what I look like.

And it should always be like that.

Emotional Rollercoaster

 

As you might have already noticed, this 2014 has started despite my strong desire to stay put in 2013, which was kind of a nice year for me, with its ups and downs, of course. But time goes by and despite what we want, it goes on and on.

And on.

There is no way to stop it, no pause button. No rewind either. This set of brand new, shining 365 days has kicked off and here we are, once again, to (hopefully) make something big out of it. Resolutions, to-do lists, wishes, dreams and desires, twelve (long) months to make it happen, one whole year to tick all those boxes and accomplish all those goals. However,  my 2014’s wish list is going to be a short one, it only includes one large, main, hard goal:

simplify

Yes, simplify my life. I actually only hope to be able to have a simpler life where I can get rid of all the things (and people) that purposeless complicate my existence and most of all hurt me or don’t bring anything to the table. Yeah, I know… I setting myself up for a complicated mission, but hey man! I’ve got a whole year to make it happen, right? I’ve started with the simplest stuff: clothes, shoes, random piece of s**t I’ve collected in the last few decades and then I’ve moved to the people business. Yeah, cos you can get rid of lots of things around you, but if you stick to unhealthy relationships, you will only keep feeling the same old s**t. That’s why, I’ve decided to move on from superficial and unbalanced friendships to focus on a few good old and new friends and of course my family. I have to admit, these first 39 days have been an emotional roller-coaster for me: up and down, right and left, stay and leave, love and hate. I was struggling to stay afloat. I was struggling to keep up with my new (old?) life: back in the office, back to a normal life. I struggled so hard to concentrate. It was hard to believe, to let go or to stay put. I was constantly fighting between my wishes and my duties.

And it is true that you only realise what you have, once you’ve lost it. I had all the time of the world a few weeks ago, I had everything at my doorstep, but I was too lazy to make it worth. I was too scared to make the most of it. I idled about for weeks, staring at the watch ticking (and playing candy crush). Now, I am back, back to my normal self. That self that I don’t know any more and I have to try and squeeze dreams in my spare time once again.

But 2014 has made a roaring entrance in my life. New job, new company, new people, new friends, new feelings. Now that both my relationship and my “American Dream” have completely fallen apart, it is time for me to stand still and plan my new year as well as my life again, from here, from London, from myself.

For myself.

Happy New Year.

Make a Good Story

I watched this video today and it was just the kind of reminder I needed to hear the clock ticking again. It was like a slap on my face which forced me to think that I should do something about my life. Something better and more meaningful.

Who’s not scared of dying without accomplishing his/her dreams? Who can face the idea of living this world without leaving behind some sort of legacy? Or better, who isn’t scared of death?

I am and I guess most of you are too. But how are we meant to write a good story, to use Stephen Cave‘s words, if we are constantly trying to cope with work, family, children, pressure and money? How are we meant to find the time to fill those pages in the book that is our life? How can we make this book a “best-seller” (again using his metaphor). I still have to find out. Someone told me that the solution isn’t trying to do something big, but to find happiness  in the little things of everyday’s life. I have tried, but it’s not for me. I need pace, I need excitment, I need stress too, probably. But most of all I need to feel my blood running through my veins first of all, in order to feel. To feel anything.

I have decided that my 2014 first resolution is that every single day, I will find time to do something that I REALLY like doing. It might be something little, like reading or something more demanding like writing. Or it could just be a swim or a ride.

But now I know that every day I should find a way to say:

“Thank you for another good day”.

This is the plan, let’s see if I can stick to it! 🙂

TIME TO SAY “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-bulls**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**K 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 locations like the volcano of Stromboli and in the middle of the beautiful Tuscan landscapes in Italy.

LEARN TO SEE FIRST

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,  you are halfway 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.

fuck it

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

 JUST F**K IT. 

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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. 

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When I Grow Up

One of my last posts has created quite a pleasant debate started by Sunday, which then moved on Pattylafiacca‘s blog. They offered great advice around my indecision to stay or to go, or better, about what shall I do when I go. Patty then had the great idea to throw me a challenge: to jump on the first time-machine stopping at the platform I’m standing on and go back to meet again my young, little self: when everything was possible, when there were no limits nor rules and life was a game. Patty wanted me to go back and rescue that little girl who dreamed with open eyes at all times and see if there was a little bit that I could bring back to today. She asked me to think and put down all the things I wanted to do and I dreamed of as a kid.

She gave me two weeks initially, but I was having fun and everyday on the time machine I could see myself dreaming about something different. It has been a hard task too and sad, somehow: it is incredible to see how many broken dreams you can collect in a lifetime. The list I’ve compiled is long but I’m also  sure I’ve missed some of my dreams, probably lost in life’s unexpected turns and ups and downs. I want to thank pattylafiacca here, because her “funny little game” forced me to think about the missed, forgotten, dusted dreams I once had. Thank you for making me feel again that Anything is possible. Just like when we were kids.

Here is what I came up with, I hope you will find it as amusing as I did when i recollected all my childhood’s dreams. I also pushed myself forward to try to remember why I didn’t follow with those dreams and why I forgot about them. So you will find the “jobs” and the reasons why I’ve moved on from them.
  • Ballet dancer: I loved those tiny, delicate, sinuous bodies creating dreamy romance on stage. But my mum thought the dance school was too expensive so instead she sent me to the local authority’s gymnastic school. She told me it was the same. It wasn’t and thanks mum, because of you I know have more muscles than a football player!
  • Pianist: Piano lessons were also too expensive for my parents. I never learnt to play, but a few years ago I had the opportunity to touch the keyboard of one and unexpectedly, I felt like crying. I know it’s cheesy, but I recalled in that moment of my dream to create wonderful music with my fingers. I’ve promised myself that one day I will learn, I won’t become the next Einaudi probably, but I’ll be happy to touch that keyboard again and listen to the tune I’ll play
  • Actress: As a child I was in love with Barbara De Rossi, and I wanted to become like her. I think I was maybe 12/13 and I started buying CIAK, a monthly movie magazine in Italy that had a section for auditions and acting academies, I was planning to leave my village and go to Rome to attend the Acting Academy (Accademia Nazionale d’Arte Drammatica). At school, as part of the “Arts Course” we had a once-famous actress turned director, teaching us to play on stage. One day she stopped me at the end of the lesson to tell me one of the best things anyone told me in my life. She said: “You have a natural talent, you are born to be million different persons, you are born to act.” That evening at dinner,  I told my parents what happened and about my decision to go to Rome and join an acting school, and they started laughing. They said to concentrate on my studies and forget about movies and television. It hurt. So much. Probably I should have expected that reaction and go to that audition where my application had actually already been accepted. But I didn’t, I did what they told me to do: I forgot about movies and becoming an actress. I stopped buying my favourite magazine. I stopped playing with the school troupe. I even stopped watching movies because it was painful.
  • Detective: when I was still dreaming about becoming an actress, as I said, I was watching million movies and one of my favourite actresses was Jodie Foster, mainly for her supreme performance in the The Silence of the Lambs  (a movie I’ve seen more than 30 times!). That movie pushed me to dream about something else: I wanted to investigate on crimes and murders, following mad killers, putting my life at risk and then find out who was to blame.But I had to drop this idea off pretty quickly: I can’t handle blood or horrific scenes. Once I fainted when I procured myself a micro-cut!! End of the brave detective dream.
  • Barrister: this was one of the most long-lasting (and probably more realistic) dreams I had which I still dream of now. But like for piano and dance school, money got in the way and I knew I couldn’t afford to pay for my studies and live at my parents house for 5 (or even 6, 7, 8…10?) years before qualifying as a layer. There, my practical decision to attend a 3 years degree in Economics, which I nicknamed my Ticket to Freedom. I might actually study law one day, never say never, isn’t it
  • Judge: ditto,  the journey was going to be even longer than the above and I had to “get out as quickly as possible”
  • Psychologist: same as above
  • Psychiatric: ditto
  • Open a Stationary shop – I always loved stationary, I’m still obsessed with all those small, colourful, useless pens, pads, pencils, notebook, notepad, memo pad, scratch pad… and when I stop in one of those amazing shops here in London,  I always end up spending at least a good couple of hours and probably over £30 in stuff I don’t really need but I LOVE. I can resist less to those than, let’s say, a pair of shoes or a bag. I know, I’m mad, but it’s an addiction!
  • Police woman: in between the same reason why I gave up detective and partially because I thought there wasn’t enough crime in my small, residential village and I was going to get bored.
  • Journalist/War correspondent: inspired by Oriana Fallaci‘s books, which I started reading very young, I wanted to follow her path and experience as well as report the truth about wars around the world, but also in poor countries. Writing was (is) my biggest passion. It has aways been. But I was scared, I was affected by the typical Italian fear of struggling to find a job. As I said above, for the pragmatism’s sake, I choose the safest (and hardest) option: Economics, the must-have degree in Italy to be taken seriously by ANY company.
  • Doctor, Architect, Nurse, Interior Designer : as above, either because there was too much blood involved or it took too long to become one
  • Prime minister: yeah, I know, I know..
  • Reader (yes, you read it right. I wanted to be someone who read books out aloud for other people all day long). My family and friends used to laugh at me, telling me that “that wasn’t a job”. I then found out that actually reading (and editing and choosing) books all day WAS actually a job I could aim for
  • Librarian: this is now my when-I-retire-dream. When I was a child and later, a teenager I used to spend hours and days at the local library, reading of course, but also admiring books on the shelves, critising the order or suggesting new potential sub-sections to the people working there. They used to hate me of course, but I used to love spending time there, making notes of new releases, authors or best sellers. Oh, as per my own personal library, I still use the same scrappy notepad which contains ALL the books I read since January 2000! The list is quite impressively long.
  • Photographer. Still dreaming about it. Constantly. Daily. Passionately.
  • Writer. Still dreaming about it. Constantly. Daily. Passionately.

And so, we are at the end of this interesting exercise which took my mind off things for a few weeks.

I’ve jumped back into painful, faded and funny memories, thanks to Patty & Sunday. Now, I know what I’ve lost but I also know what I don’t want to lose again: the ability to dream again, without worrying if I’ll make it or not. Maybe I even managed to rescue some of the courage I had, the one that all children have: to imagine them as invincible creatures.

But, most importantly, putting EVERYTHING on the table made me realise that there is ONE or TWO little dreams that have never really faded or grew pale, not for a second of any day in my last 28 years (or since I can remember).

It is like now I can really see what I want.

It’s like now.. I know.

Yes, now I know.

Disconnected

Last night I started reading I come alone a book by Michelle J Coote, an Australian who after a touching travel experience in the Middle East, decided to move to Thailand and then India. I’m still at the beginning of her journey, but I’m already sure I’ll be intrigued by her adventures, also because the two countries are part of the around-the-world trip I’m about to start. I’ve been following Antonia’s blog for a few weeks now and I’m curious to see how their lives have taken them to or away from Brisbane (Antonia has chosen the Australian town as her temporary home, Michelle decides to leave her “beautiful, tidy, clean and organised” Brisbane to travel and then settle in Southern Asia).

However, while I add myself to those who are craving for the Asian and the Australian dream, I’ve disconnected the plug. I’m on auto-pilot now. I’ve always been part of that category of weird people who jumped out of bed in the morning in excitement thinking about what was on the plate for the day. I was the type of person who was getting a bit depressed on a Friday afternoon, thinking about the boring weekend ahead and how do to fill all that spare time. I’ve often been the one who got some extra work to get done at home between parties and dinners out. But I never left any my time available, too scared to be spending time with myself, horrified to listen to my thoughts or talk to myself. Busy, always busy was the routine, no a free minute for myself. Get stuff done.

I’m now part of that army of individuals (at the opposite side of the spectrum), who wakes up on Monday morning thinking that Friday will never arrive soon enough. I spend my days and hours counting down minutes to The End. I am bored and disconnected. I used to be in the office at 8am and now I drag myself through the door after 9am, under the suspicious stare of my boss.
But I don’t care anymore. Love is over and I can’t get it back. I don’t see the utility of my job and I feel like all my efforts have been wasted. I also feel betrayed and I can’t fix that.

Now I spend my days listening to the screaming voice in my head that is shouting to GET OUT OF HERE and considering options for my future.
The problem is that, despite I’ve read tons of blogs and books about downshifting, moving-on, leaving the corporate world, location-free jobs, online millionaires and entrepreneurs, I haven’t found my way. All of the them are incredibly inspirational, don’t get me wrong, but the reality is that I don’t know how to change my life. I have no idea what I could / should do next and this ambiguity, as well as the various options, are making me more and more confused.

What shall I do? Shall I do that master in HR capitalising on my 6-year recruitment experience to pursue a career in HR or shall I just forget about it and move on to a brand new chapter in my life i.e. online marketing, obviously assuming a massive risk by learning something completely new to me?

Would you take the easy option or the less-travelled path?
Let me know your thoughts and if you have practical suggestions on how to learn and find a location-independent, sustainable job, I will be forever grateful.Image