A step forward… decision made!

After few months of thorough searching, reading, thinking, discussing, exchanging info and opinions the decision that was causing me sleepless nights has been finally made… We are staying in England! Yayyy… And hopefully opt very soon for the so much loved English countryside! I am extremely happy of this decision, mainly because is what my heart longed for… and I have started to finally sleep properly again!

It has been a tough few months, putting on paper all the pro and cons of both countries, and trying to visualize what our lives would be in these two different environments considering everything, including also the various possibilities available.

Like I said in a previous post Italy is such a beautiful country, probably one of the most beautiful country in the world, for its history, art, food, etc. And on top of everything it is my home country, where all my family and friends are. But although its infinite beauty and my emotional connections to it, Italy is not enough… Beauty is not just its strong point, as it is also very well known for its corruption and political disasters, and the present situation is very unsettling and not very promising for the brighter future I was hoping for. Probably it will never be! Sometimes I wish I wasn’t Italian, so that I could be able to appreciate Italy with the eyes of a foreigner, focusing only on the bright side. But unfortunately I am also very familiar with its true dark side…

In my opinion, England is far more ‘civilized’, at least on the appearance; but the main thing that pushed our decision into staying, is that here you have POSSIBILITIES. Possibility to work, to study, to become a better person, to open your own business, without being exploited by a corrupted government. You have the possibility of confronting yourself with other cultures and to grow together, where the diversity is celebrated. You have freedom of expression, possibilities to become who you want to be, develop your skills and your experiences and finding a job that you like, where you feel rewarded and appreciated.

In Italy does not exist meritocracy, does not exist the concept of community and living in harmony together, supporting each other. Does not exist honesty, equality and tolerance, especially in present days! It’s a culture based on aesthetical appearances, on superficiality and gossiping, on following the crowd just because the media say so. And unfortunately those minority of people who truly are hardworking and have idealistic dreams, those who want to live a quite life in simplicity and honesty, are forced to either live in a truly unfair place and adapt to the injustice that surround them, or to go and find their luck in another country.

I was one of those who, 16 years ago, chose to go to find her luck somewhere else, and here, in my very little world, I can say that I have been lucky enough to find it, definitely with sacrifice, but that at least has been rewarded. England gave me so much more than my own country. I grew up here, and I feel such a strong connection with this place. I must say, London is a truly unique and very special city, so much energy surrounds it! And probably in the countryside it will be very difficult to match the same energy and experiences that this amazing city has to offer. London has been my home for the most important years of my life, and I am truly grateful for that. I have learnt and  grown so much, and I have definitely become a true Londoner in heart, a North London Girl. 🙂

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England, London – View from Walkie Talkie, March 2018 (picture taken from hubby)

But as my 40s are approaching, I strongly feel that my metropolitan experience is coming to an end, and I almost feel obliged to give my place to someone else. There is this need to live in a smaller place, a community country town, and the English countryside is just perfect for that. I hope that its beautiful and magical fairy tale scenery will create new experiences for us, hopefully as enriching as it has been here in London. And I just hope that with the Brexit things are not going to get harder for non-english people… it would be such a shame, especially for those of us who really care about living here!

At the moment there is a strong climate of uncertainty all over the world, things are definitely shifting, somehow… And I feel that our shift is definitely to go to a much greener place, where you become an active part of the local community, living a quieter and simpler life in happiness. Another main point for me is that it needs to be a place where there will be an active Artist’s community. After 16 years in London, I do not think I will be able to survive without the Art’s energy!

So, the next step will be deciding where to move. Obviously there are many factors to keep in consideration: work is one of the most important. We are trying to understand if it is better to remain in a commutable route to London, where initially we will be able to keep our jobs, and once settled in the new town, eventually look for something more local. We looked at places around the Hertfordshire area; the countryside is nice, and some villages are very pretty. Hertford, Letchworth, Hitchin, etc. are all on the list.

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England, Letchworth, Norton Common, June 2018

If instead we will feel a bit braver we are also considering the Gloucestershire area, specifically around Stroud. I love that town! And The Cotswolds’ countryside is just stunning, so many pretty villages. We just have to see jobwise if there are any possibilities that are suitable for us. But everything looks exciting and promising at the moment… so many possibilities!

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England, The Cotswolds, Stroud surrounding, Slad country walk, July 2018

Please feel free to leave comments and suggestions if you have a place in mind that could potentially be ideal for our needs: country town, very green, arty and friendly, with a strong sense of community, where it is easy enough to find a job locally, where properties are not ridiculously priced, and most importantly where you can live a happy life! I know it is quite a lot to ask, but hopefully it is doable… 🙂 I would be very interested to read experiences of people that have done the same thing, leaving London for a quieter life in the country. Feel free to share!

The Fear of Change

During times of change and decisions making, it is absolutely normal to go through emotional turmoil and repeatedly asking yourself the same questions: ‘Am I doing the right thing? Is this what I really want?’… Being paranoid, having doubts, is all part of that package that makes us human, especially when we found ourselves in a position where we want to leave the present situation, for a future that is unknown; as you say, better the Devil you know (than the devil you don’t).

But if we get so attached to our life and routine, just because it makes us feel in control, we will eventually find ourselves living a life full of regrets. Now I am not saying that everyone should swap the city life for the country life in Nature (that’s my dream), but I am certainly saying that if you have a dream that is pulsating in your heart, making you smile and giving you a sense of freedom every time you think about it, you have to make it come true, in one way or another! You should find the courage to face change and uncertainty and take that risk… so that one day, even if things go wrong and not as you wished for, you can be satisfied that at least you tried.

The most difficult thing to do in these cases is to find the courage of letting go the things that makes us feel confortable and safe. We are creatures of habits, and get confortable in easy routines, and even if we get bored and frustrated by them, we’d rather complaining but not change the situation. How many time you hear people complaining about their job, but not doing much to find a new one.

Even more difficult is letting go things that make you happy in your present life, for a future life that is full of uncertainties and doubts. This is the problem I am facing in this period: I love my life in London, it’s a life that I have created with sacrifice, but at the same time I also know that I need a change, Nature and simple living are calling! And although you cannot ignore the call of Nature, the Change that goes with it means uncertainty, which means unknown, which means not having control. This is exciting but at he same time it is scary for our human mind, especially when you are nearly 40, and that recklessness that you had in your 20s is hardly there anymore. Finding a job in London is fairly easy, finding a source of income in the country is a bit more difficult, especially if you relocate in a place where you don’t know anyone, and you do have to start again, from scratch. But hopefully with my Meditation and Art skills, and my husband with his super DIY skills, we will be able to find something that will give us the possibility to support a simpler life in the country. We are definitely not looking for a fancy life style, we just want to enjoy life, in a simple way, in Nature.

So, a Buddhist and a eager Meditation practitioner and teacher, in periods of confusion I have the tendency to go through my introspective moments, thinking, analysing and questioning anything going through my heart, and through my mind. I have always been a great believer in the power of the connection with your surrounding, trusting that when your heart and mind are open in truthfulness towards one direction, the ambient around you starts to respond to that, giving you signals and guiding you towards the right path. We need to put effort into things in order to make them happen, but sometimes we also need to be able to let things be and follow an effortless path, almost like going with the flow and listening to your surrounding. When things are decided with your hearth, following the truth, the ambient is there to support you, to protect you. We are made of energy, and surrounded by energy. We just need to learn to listen to it.

So as I am facing a period of confusion, the ambient decided to remind me, as to wake me up, the beautiful concept of the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path. In some way Buddha really was the very first psychologist: he taught us how to empower our mental state, he taught us how to be more prepared to embrace the change and transformation that life throw at us, so that we are able to deal and ease the many emotional turmoil that sometimes come to visit us. We are so used to control our lives, to the point that we start to live a life following a routine that eventually will cause us depression and anxiety. We forget that in order to transform our lives, we need first to let go of our attachments, so that life can take its course, in a creative and innovative way.

Through the four Noble Truths we can really understand the importance of living in the present moment, where we will find the courage to start the journey into the unknown, and go with the flow of transformation. If you want to read more about the concept of letting go, and a very well written interpretation of the Four Noble Truths, I strongly recommend the book ‘Wise Mind, Open Mind’ by Ronald Alexander, always good to have in hand during difficult and confusing times.

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The first noble truth: In life, there is suffering, because of the impermanent nature of things.

Because we feel more secure when we have a sense of predictability, we develop a great capacity for denying a simple truth: that nothing stays the same. Then the unpredictability of life shows us that even if we do everything “right” and exercise every precaution, we can still face unexpected loss.

When this happens the shock can make it hard to regain your equanimity and exercise non-reactivity. Too often, rather than surrender to the inevitability of change and work creatively with it, people resort to the fear-based behavior of trying to take charge and force other people and situations to conform to their expectations. The first noble truth of Buddhism is a reminder not to slip into the avoidance behavior of denial. While it’s not wise to create gloomy thoughts about how matters might take a turn for the worse, consciously ignoring the reality that all situations transform sets you up for a great shock when that time comes.

The second noble truth: Suffering is due to attachments and expectations, to grasping and clinging.

Your inability to avoid change may make you angry, sad, and frustrated. It can be hard to let go of the false belief that the only way to achieve happiness again is to regain what’s been lost. Even when you know you can’t reverse the situation, you may agonize over this reality.

Clinging to what once was, avoiding the process of grief and acceptance, causes paralysis. Grasping for a future set of circumstances identical to the past holds you back from discovering what better roads lie ahead, outside of your sight. The desire to backtrack or reconstruct will likely result in your walking around in circles, lost in the dark woods, instead of peering around corners to find new paths.

The third noble truth: It’s possible to end suffering by giving up attachments (clinging) and expectations (grasping).

The shift in perspective that comes when we recognize that there’s no such thing as a permanent sense of happiness begins our healing from suffering. The next step is to accept that we must broaden our definition of what we need in order to be happy, giving up the habits of clinging and grasping, as well as the need to control external circumstances.

After emerging from the shock of a great loss, we’re even more despairing about the possibility of being joyful again. However, the third noble truth offers us the promise of a new way of living that’s as satisfying, if not more fulfilling, than the old. It beckons us to begin the process of transformation.

The fourth noble truth: The way to end suffering due to clinging and grasping is through balance and living in the present.

It’s important to balance a thirst for something better with an acceptance of what is, right now. Balance allows you to live in the present moment and trust that your acceptance will clear the mist of confusion and distractions, and show you the way to move forward into happiness again. Here’s the paradox of change: until you can accept what is, you cannot move into what might be.

When we cling to the past or what no longer serves us, we contract ourselves to the point where we’re unable to be nourished and invigorated by the present moment. We have to accept that what’s past has truly passed in order to open up to what the present moment offers us. In this opening we become nourished, refreshed and revitalized.”

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Like many philosophers have already stated, Change is the only certainty in life. Our approach and state of mind towards Change can definitely make a difference in how we welcome a new chapter in our lives.

“The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.” – Alan Watts 

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Morning Glory…

This morning I got up very early… now that Summer is almost here, as soon as the birds start to sing their favourite songs, my dog Woody also starts to bark his favourite song: LET’S GO OUT, WAKE UP! So, with one eye still closed and the other barely opened you are there trying to find a good excuse to get up so early. This morning I had the good excuse. The sky was blue, the Sun was shining over Enfield, and as soon as I opened the window I felt that fresh enjoyable breeze and thought: Ok, Woody, you win, lets go out! 🙂

So, there we were at 7am, walking along and enjoying the fresh summer breeze, surrounded by ‘the green’. The park looked so vast… it was all for ourselves. To my surprise hardly anyone was there, and the very few people you met along the way, were ‘happy people’, welcoming your presence with a smile and a cheerful ‘Good Morning!’… while our dogs did exactly the same thing with their wagging tails.

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The smell of grass, still wet from the night time frost, the gentle fresh air caressing your skin while whispering into your ear to enjoy the present moment, the white patches of the Moon still visible ‘nel blue, dipinto di blue’. Everything was just perfect. Our senses really are an incredible tool to appreciate the moment to moment experience. And then you turn and take a look at your dog, and he is so happy to be there with you. Smelling, trotting, enjoying every single moment of it… Dogs truly are the best Meditation Teachers I have ever met. They are constantly present in the moment, with no thoughts, completely relying on their senses to get on with their lives and to get on with us human. This is probably why I love Dogs so much: they are incredible beings, teaching you to enjoy the Now, in happiness, with them.

I have never been a morning person… more of a night owl really… but this morning was magical and I really appreciated being there, with my best friend. And while we were heading back home, suddenly echoed into mind the Italian proverb that my husband constantly repeat to me when I complain about the too early morning routine: “Il mattino ha l’oro in bocca!”, which in english will probably be equal to say “The early bird catches the worm”. 🙂 But this morning I smiled and I was happy to hear it.

So, better to get used to this early morning routine, and get on with it… especially while we are aspiring to the country life style. I must admit though, there is nothing better than waking up and start your day surrounded by Nature, while enjoying your morning walk and appreciating to be part of this incredible world.

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The Power of Nature

Nature: such a simple word, but with such an immense meaning!

When we pronounce this word our imagination is invaded by photos that we keep in our emotional memory, photos of beautiful sceneries, forests, woodland, beaches… places where we have been and experienced a powerful emotional connection, or simply places where we would like to go to keep enriching our souls.

I grew up in a central region of Italy, and from a very young age I have always been very much in contact with Nature. I have very beautiful memories of my early childhood: I can almost see my self as a little girl, on my father’s shoulders, walking through the woods and keeping busy while establishing that first connection with the land. I used to spend hours digging the soil and being fascinated by all the insects and creatures living underground. One of my favourite hobby was to pick up worms from the soil with my little hands, and give them names as we were becoming friends, so that my dad could get on with his love for bird watching and fishing.

I feel extremely lucky to have had these type of experiences, and I really appreciate them right now, more than ever, as wonderful memories. Unfortunately due to the highs and lows of life, that don’t always go as you wish, the relationship with my father took his course to an end, but all of these ‘Wild Experiences’ shared with him, are something that I will always cherish and keep within my heart, because it truly made me appreciate that special connection that everyone should have with our Mother Nature. My father may have not understood many things in his life, but he surely understood how to make you feel free.

Nature has the power to make you regain that Spiritual Freedom that we tend to lose constantly in our contemporary life styles, as we tend to focus our attention too much on stressful, boring and meaningless events, completely forgetting about the beauty of the simple things, like a walk in the woods, or a stroll on the beach.

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United States – California, Muir Woods, October 2015

As a Meditation Teacher and Stress Management facilitator I always strongly recommend to spend time in Nature to people, especially if you live within the rhythm of a stressful busy city like London. Through Nature we can rebalance our internal energy, awaken our senses, and reconnect to our precious inner self. It is such a great place to stimulate our soul, our creative being, our inner child. In fact in Japanese medicine, for example, the ‘Forest Bathing’, better known as Shinrin-yoku, has become such an important part in preventative health care. It has been scientifically proven to have so many benefit to our health and immune system: reducing stress, improving moods, sleep, etc. (Here is the link of a very interesting webpage, if you want to know a bit more about Shinrin-yoku: http://www.shinrin-yoku.org/shinrin-yoku.html )

As I was introduced to the power of Nature quite early in life, by now I can surely consider my self a true ‘Nature addict’… I wouldn’t know how to live without trees and green spaces around me, they truly are a priority above everything! And the older I get, the more Nature I need. So, in total honesty, the decision to go and live in the country, surely came from my deeply engraved ‘Nature addiction’ :). The desire to be able to breathe in fresh air, as you are surrounded by the sound of the trees and their for ever changing dancing leaves, caressed by the wind… and as you look at the sky, there you are bewitched by the radiant stars… ❤

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United States – California, Muir Woods, October 2015

Spring Haiku Poem

Finally the Sun,

glorious golden rays of light,

shining upon Us.

 

Energising light,

nurturing our lost souls,

kissing the pale skins.

 

The grey cold Winter

is gone, with frosted mornings

and shy naked trees.

 

Inspiration comes

from the mystical Green World,

Nature’s connection.

 

Magical Nature,

Mother of spiritual souls,

Be always present.

 

You are Now calling,

warming hearts and wishful dreams,

through  your sacred Love.

 

Flowers in full bloom,

with lush green grass freshly cut,

arouse the senses.

 

For ever changing

Seasons, blest Cycle of Life,

We belong to You.

 

The Sun is shining,

blue cloudless sky, Spring time breeze,

energising day.

Cristiana Can, London, 18th of April 2018

 

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England – London, Enfield, April 2018

The Importance of Being Truthful to Ourselves

When taking an important decision in life, we go through a journey of self discovery and introspection, as we continuously question ourselves with what’s the best option for us.

The questioning could be conscious, but also hidden within our actions, our thoughts, our worries, our fears… If it is something that will completely change and revolutionise the course of our lives,  it is absolutely natural to go through a roller coaster of emotions… especially when you are thinking of abandoning  the ‘comfortable’ city  life, for a life style that you have just been imagining, for a life style that has always been nothing more than a dream :).

In this cases the most important thing is to be honest and open as much as we can with ourselves. The importance of being open and truthful, of being present without judgement, within ourselves and within the present moment, goes beyond what we could even imagine. We need to be brave to practice self compassion, to have a better relationship with our own and unique Essence, our deepest Self. We need to be courageous to admit when we are scared and confused, to become better beings and  therefore achieve personal growth.

We need to be able to recuperate that authentic and real Essence within us, going beyond egos, qualifications, social status and all the different masks that we have created throughout our lives, because when we truly ARE, all of these things won’t really matter anymore.

We need to be truthful to ourselves and be able to satisfy our inner space with simplicity, without forcing our surrounding, but just being and going with the flow, in honesty, with open heart. And in that precise moment we are able to BE, with no effort.

We can only enjoy the NOW and every little moment to its fullest, if we are willing to abandon that luggage of experience achieved in the past, while being open for the new one… because the experience of the present moment will be different, because WE will be different.

“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.” – Heraclitus Of Ephesus

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England – London, Enfield, March 2018